Editor’s Note: Books and images from Hemingway’s life and works are shown in the PBS Exhibition. It’s done in conjunction with the new Burns’ documentary, “Hemingway.”
Corporate funding for HEMINGWAY was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by the Annenberg Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and by ‘The Better Angels Society,’ and its members John & Leslie McQuown, the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust, John & Catherine Debs, The Fullerton Family Charitable Trust, the Kissick Family Foundation, Gail M. Elden, Gilchrist & Amy Berg, Robert & Beverly Grappone, Mauree Jane & Mark Perry; and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick started working on their new docuseries about Ernest Hemingway almost seven years ago, when conversations about toxic masculinity and cancel culture were still at least a presidency away. But you’d be forgiven for thinking the series was a pandemic project, because Hemingway, and the conversations that take place within it, feel utterly of the moment.
From gender fluidity and mental illness to sexual misconduct and racism, today’s most charged topics are discussed at length in the series because they were part and parcel of the iconic, mercurial writer, whose own ex-wife Hadley Richardson once described as having so many sides to him that he defied geometry. Throughout the three-part, six-hour series, Hemingway is portrayed as both violent and tender, self-aware and self-aggrandizing, with an equal, outsize capacity for both joy and depthless depression.
It’s no wonder then why the writer Michael Katakis says at the start of the series that Hemingway the man is so much more interesting than the whiskey-doused, hypermasculine myth that obscures him. In separate interviews, Burns and Novick walked us through how making the film transformed the way they understand Hemingway—the man, the myth, and his literary legacy. Below, we’ve spliced together the two conversations, which have been edited and condensed for clarity.
By Steve Paul Special to The Star, April 04, 2021 05:00 AM, Updated April 04, 2021 08:44 AM
Three and a half decades ago, the earth moved beneath the foundation of the Ernest Hemingway industry. The old-school, tired image of the great American writer as a brawling, blustery simpleton took a self-inflicted punch in the gut.
Hemingway — master of the fishing rod, the shotgun, the declarative sentence — had killed himself in 1961. His literary stature was stuck in a long recession, but, as had happened three times earlier, an unfinished manuscript was plucked from his archives, tailored into a certain commercially agreeable shape, and, in 1986, landed before the reading public, this time with startling revelations.
A new PBS documentary offers a fresh look at a great and tragic writer who disappeared into a self-created macho stereotype
Early next month, timed to the sixtieth anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s death, PBS will air Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s long-awaited three-part, six-hour look at this most iconic of iconic American writers.
In a culture where screens have beat out paper and ink as the medium for gathering information and in so doing have turned us into scanners with atrophied attention spans, it’s something of an irony that it would take the visual experience of a documentary—full of stunning archival photos and deft commentary by the likes of Edna O’Brien and Tobias Wolff—to inspire a return to the page to experience the work of the writer who, as Mr. Wolff puts it, “changed all the furniture in the room.”
An unprecedented winter storm and unprepared electrical grid has left millions of Texans without reliable power and water and has killed at least 20 people since Monday. Rolling blackouts stretched into days, with more than 400,000 households still without power Feb. 18 as another storm looms Thursday.
The incoming storm is expected to have devastating effects, particularly in counties southwest of San Antonio where COVID-19 cases are already spreading significantly. About seven million people were told to boil water or stop using it entirely as pipes and water mains burst in the frigid temperatures.