Mamas and Papas

10.06.13

Ernest Hemingway’s Macho Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald

‘To me heaven would be a big bull ring,” the cocky, manly writer par excellence wrote to his good friend F. Scott Fitzgerald from Spain in 1925, and outlines his version of heaven would be—including a house where The New Republic would be used for toilet paper. Excerpted from the new The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 2.

To F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1 July [1925] 

Burguete, Navarra
July 1—

Dear Scott—

We are going in to Pamplona tomorrow. Been trout fishing here. How are you? And how is Zelda? 

I am feeling better than I’ve ever felt—havent drunk any thing but wine since I left Paris. God it has been wonderful country. But you hate country. All right omit description of country. I wonder what your idea of heaven would be—A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists, all powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death. And hell would probably [be] an ugly vacuum full of poor polygamists unable to obtain booze or with chronic stomach disorders that they called secret sorrows.

To me heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on 9 different floors and one house would be fitted up with special copies of the Dial printed on soft tissue and kept in the toilets on every floor and in the other house we would use the American Mercury and the New Republic.* Then there would be a fine church like in Pamplona where I could go and be confessed on the way from one house to the other and I would get on my horse and ride out with my son to my bull ranch named Hacienda Hadley and toss coins to all my illegitimate children that lined the road. I would write out at the Hacienda and send my son in to lock the chastity belts onto my mistresses because someone had just galloped up with the news that a notorious monogamist named Fitzgerald had been seen riding toward the town at the head of a company of strolling drinkers.

hemingway-letters-volume-2-book-cover
‘The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 2. 1923-1925’ edited by Sandra Spanier, Albert J. DeFazio III, Robert W. Trogdon. 515 pp. Cambridge University Press. $40. ()

Well anyway were going into town tomorrow early in the morning. Write me at the

Hotel Quintana
Pamplona
Spain

Or dont you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.

So Long and love to Zelda from us both—

Yours,
Ernest

*The source of Hemingway’s dislike for The New Republic remains unclear, but his scorn for The Dial and The American Mercury can be inferred from his notable dislike for editors Scofield Thayer and H.L. Mencken, respectively.

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway. © 2013 The Ernest Hemingway Foundation and Society and The Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust. Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press.