Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandra Spanier

Sandra Spanier is general editor of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Vol 1 1907-1922.

From her Q & A with Melissanne Scheld at the Cambridge University Press blog:

CUP: Fifty years later, why is Hemingway still such an important figure in American literature?

SS: Hemingway revolutionized English prose style, and for that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He used the American vernacular language and wrote prose so lean and beautiful that at times it approaches poetry. He also was a sensitive and astute observer of his times, so that his published work—and his letters—are a narrative of the 20th century.

Hemingway is unique among literary figures in the magnitude of his popularity–even celebrity–outside academe, and this new book is sure to be of great interest as well to the legions of Hemingway readers and enthusiasts worldwide. His appeal transcends politics and national borders.

CUP: You’ve spent the better part of the last decade collecting Hemingway’s correspondence which will be available for the general public for the first time this fall. What can we learn about Hemingway from these letters that we haven’t seen before?

SS: In contrast to the painstaking craftsmanship of his fiction, Hemingway’s letters are unguarded, spontaneous, informal, and very garrulous at times (in contrast to his lean, stripped-down published prose). He once wrote to an editor, “The spelling and construction of my letters is careless rather than ignorant.” He did not consider letters to be a serious form of writing and he said that if he took as much care with this letters as he did with his “real” writing, too much of his energy would go into the letters rather than into the writing that mattered.

He took a different tone with each of his correspondents, and his correspondence with each person has a unique flavor that reflects his unique relationship with that person.

What the letters show is that Hemingway was a far more complex, sensitive, and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue