The publication of Ernest Hemingway’s complete correspondence is shaping up to be an astonishing scholarly achievement

Phillip Lopate in the Times Literary Supplement:

ScreenHunter_2577 Feb. 08 00.43We are already on the third of a projected seventeen volumes, minimum, which will include in their entirety every surviving letter, postcard and telegram sent by Hemingway. Meticulously edited, with shrewd introductory summaries and footnotes tracking down every reference, the series brings into sharp focus this contradictory, alternately smart and stupid, blustering, fragile man who was also a giant of modern literature.

The third volume, ably edited by Rena Sanderson, Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon, takes us through a particularly eventful and productive patch of Hemingway’s life, from 1926 to 1929. At the beginning he is just tackling the rewrites of The Sun Also Rises (1926) and seeing through publication his satiric novel The Torrents of Spring (1926) – his first, chronologically speaking, though it is seldom credited as such. He will switch publishers to land with the prestigious editor Maxwell Perkins at Scribner’s, will write some of his greatest short stories for the collection Men Without Women (1927), and go on to compose his second proper novel, the hugely successful A Farewell to Arms (1929). Having entered the four-year period aged twenty-seven as a promising if uncommercial newcomer backed by obscure experimental presses, he will exit it at thirty transformed into a literary lion and international celebrity. In the process he will leave his first wife Hadley, on whose slender trust fund he has been subsisting, for his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer, a much more wealthy heiress; he will abandon bohemian Paris and return to the United States, indulging a newfound passion for big game fishing; his father will have committed suicide and he himself will assume the role of paterfamilias and the responsibility of extended family provider.

Throughout these years, Hemingway will dash off letters to some ninety-nine recipients, varying the tone with each: to Maxwell Perkins, for instance, he is respectful, keeping up the salutation “Dear Mr. Perkins” until well into their collaboration; to F. Scott Fitzgerald he is jokey but also longing for the other man’s companionship; to his mother Grace, he is painfully reserved and hostile.

More here.