Watching the Ken Burns’ Hemingway biography on PBS this week reminded me of a wonderful short dramatic piece I saw many years ago called The Hemingway Play.
The Hemingway Play was an original play by screenwriter/journalist/author Fredrick Hunter. It was broadcast only once—on a PBS anthology show in 1976—and never shown again.
First is the young wounded soldier with dreams of being a writer. He is in love with life and a girl who will betray him.
Next is the confident, jaded, and ambitious Parisian expatriate who plans on conquering the world with his writing.
Then comes the successful and beloved middle-aged writer who is beginning to focus on his own myth of machismo rather than his writing skill.
Finally is the dying lion, an aging hulk of the great writer—now weak, confused, and suicidal because he can no longer write anything.
Each of the four men, while recognizing within the others something of himself, believes he is the true version of the man they all want to be.
This one-hour exploration of Hemingway’s life is at times more forceful and revealing than the six hours of the Burns documentary (which is great).
The play has never been repeated, and no recording of it exists, as far as I know.
Happily, a written copy of The Hemingway Play is available on Amazon.
If you are a Hemingway admirer as I am (whether of the myth, the man, or the writer), I think you will enjoy it.
My own essential Hemingway library–reflecting the whole of his life–contains these volumes:
And my favorite Hemingway biography: