On this day in 1961, Ernest Hemingway committed suicide. Suicide runs in his family. One glance at his family history must be a textbook example of a genetic link to mental illness. Hemingway’s own father Clarence, his brother Leicester and sister Ursula, and his granddaughter Margaux all also committed suicide. While his death cannot be termed a suicide, Hemingway’s youngest son Gregory died a transsexual who called herself Gloria in a women’s jail cell in 2001 after having been arrested for indecent exposure. Gregory’s daughter Lorian Hemingway blamed his substance abuse problems for the revocation of his medical license. One can only imagine what Papa himself might have made of “Gloria.” You can read more about Gregory Hemingway at The Strange Saga of Gregory Hemingway.
My favorite Hemingway work is The Sun Also Rises. This is probably my favorite passage:
I lay awake thinking and my mind jumping around. Then I couldn’t keep away from it, and I started to think about Brett and all the rest of it went away. I was thinking about Brett and my mind stopped jumping around and started to go in sort of smooth waves. Then all of a sudden I started to cry. Then after a while it was better and I lay in bed and listened to the heavy trams go by and way down the street, and then I went to sleep.
Which is followed at the end of the same chapter by a related passage:
This was Brett, that I had felt like crying about. Then I thought of her walking up the street and stepping into the car, as I had last seen her, and of course in a little while I felt like hell again. It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.
Somehow, I felt like those two passages defined something about human nature, or at least my nature. I just thought those passages were so pretty.