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To Have and Have Not (Scribner Classics) Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, July 6, 1999

3.8 out of 5 stars 207 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First things first: readers coming to To Have and Have Not after seeing the Bogart/Bacall film should be forewarned that about the only thing the two have in common is the title. The movie concerns a brave fishing-boat captain in World War II-era Martinique who aids the French Resistance, battles the Nazis, and gets the girl in the end. The novel concerns a broke fishing-boat captain who agrees to carry contraband between Cuba and Florida in order to feed his wife and daughters. Of the two, the novel is by far the darker, more complex work.

The first time we meet Harry Morgan, he is sitting in a Havana bar watching a gun battle raging out in the street. After seeing a Cuban get his head blown off with a Luger, Morgan reacts with typical Hemingway understatement: "I took a quick one out of the first bottle I saw open and I couldn't tell you yet what it was. The whole thing made me feel pretty bad." Still feeling bad, Harry heads out in his boat on a charter fishing expedition for which he is later stiffed by the client. With not even enough money to fill his gas tanks, he is forced to agree to smuggle some illegal Chinese for the mysterious Mr. Sing. From there it's just a small step to carrying liquor--a disastrous run that ends when Harry loses an arm and his boat. Once Harry gets mixed up in the brewing Cuban revolution, however, even those losses seem small compared to what's at stake now: his very life.

Hemingway tells most of this story in the third person, but, significantly, he brackets the whole with a section at the beginning told from Harry's perspective and a short, heart-wrenching chapter at the end narrated by his wife, Marie. In between there is adventure, danger, betrayal, and death, but this novel begins and ends with the tough and tender portrait of a man who plays the cards that are dealt him with courage and dignity, long after hope is gone. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"Absorbing and moving. It opens with a fusillade of bullets, reaches its climax with another, and sustains a high pitch of excitement throughout" Times Literary Supplement "Its tragic scenes are rendered with an economy of words and a power that might well be the despair of a lesser writer" Scotsman "This active, passionate life on the verge of the tropics is perfect material for the Hemingway style, and the reader carries away from the book a sense of freshness and exhilaration; trade winds, southern cities and warm seas all admirably described by the instrument of precision with which he writes" New Statesman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Scribner Classics
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Classic edition (July 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684859238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684859231
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always been a fan of Hemingway's The Sun also Rises and a Farewell to Arms. I wanted to read another of his books, and since I loved the Bogart and Bacall movie I purchased this despite the typical literary review that calls To Have and Have Not his worst novel. This book is great!! It's gritty, realistic, and the characters are consistent in their characterizations and actions throughout. The bar dialogue, Harry's actions as he delves into crime, they're all dead on. The plot-line really comes together with the juxtaposition of the rich and the poor (I dare you to not be disgusted by the "vital" concerns of the wealthy in the last few chapters). Hemingway's depiction of Harry's suffering wife is perhaps the *ONLY* completely believable female representation I have *EVER* read. This book is macho, poignantly sad, exciting, and full of heart wrenching loneliness throughout.
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Format: Paperback
To Have And Have Not is too fragmentary to be Hemingway's best novel. It's divided into three episodes, which I think were written at completely different times, so Hemingway's objectives might have changed halfway through. The first episode was meant to stand on its own merits as a short story, but Hemingway liked it so much he came back to it later and added two more. That said, it's certainly a fine novel - gripping, moving and very well-written at every step of the way. It revolves around Harry Morgan, an honest man turned into a smuggler by necessity. In the context of the whole novel, the first episode serves mainly to establish his person and show what sort of man he is - his reluctance to get into illegal activities, his strength, his survival instinct and the cruelty that it sometimes results in, and his human qualities. This reads like a self-contained short story with no real point other than an action-filled scenario. The second and shortest episode is the weakest part of the novel - it's a cross-section of a day in Morgan's life after he already takes up smuggling. It certainly shows the risks he has to take, but doesn't serve to do much other than explain a certain point in the third episode.
The third episode, where the real meat of the story is, is the best. It shows the further developments and the conclusion of Morgan's criminal career. It is also where the book's title comes in - here we see the contrast between those who have and those who have not. This comparison makes it easier to understand by contrast just how inevitably Morgan was driven to the life he now leads.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rough. Hard. Dirty. Physical. Tough. And also lyrical, simple, emotional, indelible. All characteristics of Hemingway's writing, all present in this book. A simple story of Harry Morgan, sometime fisherman forced into smuggling and illegal immigration just to feed his family, a man who spirals down the slippery road of 'the end justifying the means' till there is nothing left but survive at any cost.

The story is told as three separate time-segments in Harry's life, which forces a certain disjointedness to the tale. But it also allows Hemingway to illuminate Harry's story with different segments of the Cuban and Key West societies at different times with changing social conditions. There are many character vignettes, people captured sometimes in only a few paragraphs, people who are desperate, silly, egotistical, idealistic, cynical, worn-out, greedy, dissolute, resigned, driven, and just coping. Albert, a man doing relief work for less than subsistence wages, is one of the clearest and most poignant images, hiring on as mate to Henry even though he knows the voyage is supremely dangerous. Within this short portrait of this man, we see not only the extremes that desperation will drive a man to, but also Hemingway's commentary on social/political organizations and economic structures that give rise to such desperation. This was quite typical of Hemingway, as he never beat his reader's over the head with his political philosophy, but showed the underpinnings of his reasoning through the circumstances of his characters.

Throughout this work, there is the sense that there is more here than what the words on the page delineate, a theme of people from all walks of life and all economic circumstances who are caught in the implacability of fate.
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Format: Paperback
Masterworks like For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises overshadow To Have And Have Not, but you should not overlook it. The novel is mainly about Harry Morgan, a depression-era fishing boat captain who has run out of luck. The book also has several of the trademark Hemingway stories within the story. Rather than a novel, I like to think of this as a bunch of short stories held together by one greater theme. When your reading, you feel as though Hemingway has let you in on a secret, and he is showing you his private world of Key West and Havana in the 1930's. I also believe that this book is the link between his early success from The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell To Arms to his later triumphs of For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Old Man And The Sea. Because of its high action and the constant sense of adventure, I would recommend this quick read to the first time Hemingway reader. This book is the perfect primer for For Whom The Bell Tolls. The only reason I gave this 4 stars is because of Hemingways other great works. Had another author written this, it would be a better known book for sure. Excellant book and a must read!
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