Autumn in Venice by Andrea Di Robilant

Autumn in Venice by Andrea Di Robilant

Author:Andrea Di Robilant
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2018-06-04T16:00:00+00:00


Crouching Beast

The weather was gray and stormy during the crossing. There was nothing much to do on the Île de France but read and write letters, and occasionally head out of the cabin for a drink and a chat with the barman. Hemingway was cordial with Mary, but ached for Adriana like a teenager in love. It was sometimes so bad, he wrote Scribner, that he felt as if his heart were “ being fed into a meat grinder.” After five days at sea, the sight of New York reminded him how far away Adriana really was.

A small crowd of friends was at the dock on the Hudson River. Among them were Hotchner, now a young father without a job; Lillian Ross, whose profile of Hemingway was soon to come out in The New Yorker; Al Horwits, from Universal, who was keen to develop a script from Across the River and into the Trees; and, most pleasing of all, Colonel Charley Sweeny, the old soldier of fortune after whom Colonel Cantwell was also partially modeled.

During the next few days, the phone in the Hemingway suite at the Sherry-Netherland rang incessantly, and more friends came by. The buzz was all about the new book, which had started to appear in Cosmopolitan. Chink Dorman-Smith, Hemingway’s old Irish friend from his days in Milan during World War I, made a surprise visit. Colonel Cantwell even owed something to him! Retired from the British Army, Chink had inherited the family title and estate (he was now Dorman O’Gowan) and was in New York on behalf of the Irish government. He’d read the first two installments and thought them “ devilish good.” He was impressed by the way Hemingway had portrayed the feelings of a retired officer. “You understand sorrow,” he told his friend. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Hemingway was heartened to have old comrades like Sweeny and Chink around to salute Colonel Cantwell as he entered the world.

Marlene Dietrich, another veteran of sorts, was also full of praise for the chapters she’d read. During supper at the Sherry one evening, she pronounced Colonel Cantwell to be “ the finest man” she’d ever known; but she hated the girl, Renata. Hemingway asked her why. “Because you love her,” she said in her deep, husky voice, half teasing and half scolding him. More champagne went around. Death, she added in a somber tone, was “crouching like a great beast” throughout the book.

The things the Kraut came up with. Hemingway thought that single sentence a wonderful piece of literary criticism. But that’s the way it always was between them. Wherever they met, “ beat up and ruined,” the place always lit up “as though the sun had finally come out.”


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