Hemingway’s life and legacy inspire new JFK Museum display

BOSTON – A new Ernest Hemingway exhibition brings a fresh twist to give to the author of the colorful life and legacy through the display of his own books and stuff next to the pop-culture items from his time.

“Ernest Hemingway: A Life Inspired” opened Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which has become the leading research centre for Hemingway studies.

Visitors to the expanded show will see manuscripts for “A Farewell to Arms”, “The Sun also Rises’, ‘For Whom the bell tolls” and other Hemingway works — but they will also glimpse popular paperback books from the first half of the 20th century, as well as magazines, photographs and other memorabilia are pulled straight from his world.

It is a comprehensive attempt to portray “Daddy” in its proper context.

“Now it is our pleasure to provide a permanent Ernest Hemingway exhibit that tells the writer’s story by weaving together his literary masterpieces with his worldly inspiration,” said James Roth, JFK Library deputy director.

“The exhibition places the viewer in Hemingway’s shoes, seeing the people and places that inspired his greatest work,” he said.

It contains many of the documents, pictures, fishing rods, mounted animal trophies, and other quirky personal belongings that Hemingway’s widow, Mary, retrieved of the author’s former estate in Cuba with the help of JFK after her husband died in 1961. Later offered a wealth of items to Jacqueline Kennedy for safekeeping and display at the public library of Boston, which was opened in 1979.

It has since become the world’s Number 1 archive of Hemingway lore.

Hemingway and Kennedy never met, but the late president was an admirer. He wrote Hemingway for permission to use his oft-quoted phrase, “grace under pressure” in the opening of the JFK’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning ” Profiles in Courage.”

The new permanent exhibition builds and expands on a 2016 temporarily, but ambitious exhibition, “Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars.” Compiled by Hilary Justice, the presidential library’s Hemingway expert, the last presentation that attracts virtually every aspect of JFK’s large Hemingway collection.

His first editions of Hemingway’s most important work; personal photographs from his private collection and pictures of the women who inspired him. (Spoiler alert: Hemingway had a reputation of a “man’s man” and a misogynist, but strong women helped shape his art.)

There are also pages from the early versions of some of Hemingway’s most beloved books.

“The Old Man and the Sea”, his last major work of fiction, is prominent. A Live magazine edition of the novel is on display, along with 32 covers of translations all over the world.


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