Hemingway Manuscript Declared Forgery

Hemingway scholars seem almost universally convinced that the discovery of the unpublished manuscript The Sun Also Sets is a hoax. The manuscript,

Action Comics 263 Bizarro World

Action Comics 263 Bizarro World

supposedly found in a strong box in Finca Vigia , Cuba, on 1 April 2014, came to light via Hemingway’s grandson, Sean, the issue of Hemingway’s youngest son Gregory, who “suffered” throughout his life from gender dysphoria and also went by the name Gloria.

Also found in the strong box was a well-preserved copy of DC Action Comics #263 (April 1960) entitled “The World of Bizzaros.”[1]

Hemingway left Cuba for the final time in July of 1960, so the issue date of the comic is not anachronistic.

Although the manuscript itself was created on a 1955 Smith Corona Standard Typewriter (Model 88), modern optical brighteners were detected in the manuscript’s paper, which means the manuscript had to be created after 1975. Sean Hemingway, however, contends that the manuscript could have been retyped later to for preservation’s sake.

However, this scenario seems unlikely given that one, not two, manuscripts were found, and certainly whoever supposedly retyped the manuscript would have preserved the original typed by the Master himself.

The story itself is a self-parody of Hemingway’s first novel The Sun Also Rises set in Paris and Pamplona in the early Twenties. Taking its cue from the Bizarro World concept, the names of the characters in the parody have been reversed as have been the roles of the characters. For example, the first person narrator of the parody is Barney Jakes, a conscientious objector from the Great War who is gay and possesses super-sized reproductive organs, as opposed to the original, Jake Barnes, a stoic hero who Fisher King like has suffered permanent impotence from a war wound. Other prominent characters include Lady Ashley Brett, Count Maddox Ford Maddox, and Francis Scott, who is obviously a caricature of Scott Fitzgerald and has taken the place of Robert Cohn.

Perhaps the most “bizzaro” aspect of the parody itself is that its prose seems much more Jamesian – as in Henry – than it does Hemingwayesque. In other words, Hemingway’s clipped declarative sentences have been replaced by syntactically difficult rhetorical structures that tax the reader’s patience.

For example, compare the first three sentences of the original with the first sentence of the parody:

Robert Cohn was once the middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do  not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn. He cared nothing for boxing. In fact, he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton.

Francis Scott, a young man of five-and-twenty, of not more than middle height and slightly more than middle weight, had at his alma mater, the University of Alabama, received accolades in his prowess in forensics as he had captained the Crimson Tide’s nationally acclaimed debate team.

Perhaps, it need not be stated here that the parody – whoever may have written it – is an abysmal failure. All of the innovative aspects that render the original interesting – the crisp imagery, the unadorned dialogue, the lost generational angst-ridden hedonism – have been replaced with turgid descriptions, wooden dialogue, and homoerotic repression.

The question arises – who would waste his or her time concocting such an ill-thought out confection? No doubt some talentless wretch desperate for attention.

Some latter-day James Macpherson perhaps.

[1] Via Wikipedia: In the Bizarro world of “Htrae” (“Earth” spelled backwards), society is ruled by the Bizarro Code which states “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!” In one episode, for example, a salesman is doing a brisk trade selling Bizarro bonds: “Guaranteed to lose money for you”. Later, the mayor appoints Bizarro No. 1 to investigate a crime, “Because you are stupider than the entire Bizarro police force put together”. This is intended and taken as a great compliment. In popular culture, largely influenced by the Seinfeld television program, “Bizarro World” has come to mean a situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations.

Gregory "Gloria" Hemingway

Gregory “Gloria” Hemingway

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