Hemingway's novel reissued with alternate opening


Contestants on Jeopardy! this week were asked to identify the book that opens with this line: "Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton." The answer (or rather the question) was: What is The Sun Also Rises?

Yet, as a new edition of this 1926 classic by Ernest Hemingway shows, up until the final galleys, Cohn's college feats were not even included in the opening chapter. Originally, Hemingway began his tale of the Lost Generation by introducing its beautiful and heartsick embodiment, Brett Ashley: "This is a novel about a lady."

This discarded first chapter, along with other deletions, earlier drafts and alternate titles, is included in a new edition of the novel that Scribner is releasing later this month. The glimpse into Hemingway's creative process is not new. As the author's grandson Seán Hemingway explained in an interview, "While the material has been discussed at great length by scholars, it hasn't been brought together in this way before, and it hasn't been accessible to the general public." Seán Hemingway, a curator of Greek and Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also wrote a new introduction for this edition.

Sun, Hemingway's debut novel, has its roots in his experiences in the summer of 1925, at the annual running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain, with his first wife, Hadley Richardson Hemingway, and a group of friends. This year's dashes start on Monday. With its organised coach tours and official list of prohibitions (including running while drunk or wearing inappropriate footwear), the current incarnation would have been inconceivable to Hemingway, even though he, perhaps more than anyone, is responsible for its international fame.

The new edition, the second installment in a series of Hemingway books that Scribner is publishing in cooperation with the author's estate, contains Hemingway's own account of the San Fermín festival in Pamplona. That 1923 essay appeared in The Toronto Star Weekly and detailed his first visit to the bullfights. "As far as I know, we were the only English-speaking people in Pamplona," Hemingway wrote.

Among the photographs included in the new edition is one that shows a typewritten draft of another alternate first chapter that focuses on the bullfighter Pedro Romero and uses third-person narration instead of the first-person that Hemingway ultimately chose.

Another photo features the typescript title page, where Hemingway added in pencil, as an epigraph, Gertrude Stein's quotation "You are all a lost generation."

"Nobody would have heard of the Lost Generation," if Hemingway hadn't immortalised it, said Patrick Hemingway, the author's only surviving son. "They wouldn't have gotten it from Gertrude Stein."

Patrick Hemingway, who lives in Montana and just celebrated his 86th birthday, said this edition's added material "makes for more pleasurable reading and perhaps understanding." It's also much better than the 1957 film version, he added. He mentioned that he had recently rewatched the movie, which starred Ava Gardner as Brett, Mel Ferrer as Cohn, and Tyrone Power as Jake Barnes. "That really is bad," he said.

© 2014 The New York Times

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First Published: Jul 12 2014 | 0:08 AM IST

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