Monday, July 4, 2011

Feds Killed Hemingway

The New York Times has an editorial piece by a close friend of the Ernest Hemingway.  Hemmingway of course is a famous writer.  But if you look at how many famous writers there were from his time period, and see how many of them are famous now, you could say that he is famous squared.  If he is famous a few centuries from new, I guess he will be famous cubed.


Hemingway killed himself with a double barrel shotgun.  Legend has it that both barrels went off; he fired the second shot from heaven.  There had always been a lot of speculation as to why he killed himself, but his friends new that he had been suffering from paranio, and depression for some time.

A.E. Hotchner saw a lot of Hemingway before his death.  Hemingway was a mess.

A.E. Hotchner, New York Times, 1 July 2011 via cubadirect


In November I went out West for our annual pheasant shoot and realized how  wrong I was. When Ernest and our friend Duke MacMullen met my train at  Shoshone, Idaho, for the drive to Ketchum, we did not stop at the bar  opposite the station as we usually did because Ernest was anxious to get on the road. I asked why the hurry.

"The feds."

"What?"

"They tailed us all the way. Ask Duke."

"Well ... there was a car back of us out of Hailey."

"Why are F.B.I. agents pursuing you?" I asked.

"It's the worst hell. The goddamnedest hell. They've bugged everything.  That's why we're using Duke's car. Mine's bugged. Everything's bugged. Can't  use the phone. Mail intercepted."

We rode for miles in silence. As we turned into Ketchum, Ernest said  quietly: "Duke, pull over. Cut your lights." He peered across the street at  a bank. Two men were working inside. "What is it?" I asked.

"Auditors. The F.B.I.'s got them going over my account."

"But how do you know?"

"Why would two auditors be working in the middle of the night? Of course it’s my account."

All his friends were worried: he had changed; he was depressed; he wouldn't hunt; he looked bad.

Hemingway would check himself into a psychiatric hospital under an assumed name.  Obviously, he was suffering from some sort of paranoid delusions.  Right?


Decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the F.B.I. released its Hemingway file. It revealed that beginning in the 1940s J. Edgar Hoover had placed Ernest under surveillance because he was suspicious of Ernest's activities in Cuba. Over the following years, agents filed reports on him and tapped his phones. The surveillance continued all through his confinement at St. Mary's Hospital. It is likely that the phone outside his room was tapped after all.

In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest's fear of the F.B.I., which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the F.B.I. file. I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.



In my opinion, while the Feds did not pull the trigger, they are culpable of murder.  It would not be the   last case where the FBI has ruined people’s lives through harassment.

2 comments:

Craig Cavanaugh said...

Yep, but we're all looney for pointing out government transgressions. It seems that if the rose colored glasses are removed, that unicorn prancing through a field of daisies becomes something a bit more sinister...

russell1200 said...

That is putting it mildly.

But the banalty of it is stunning.

I guess they wanted to come up with some dirt on him so they could shut him up or otherwise get him blacklisted.