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Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage Hardcover – June 1, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A major scholarly accomplishment -- authoritative, thoroughly researched, pioneering, and ably written…. a must for Hemingway scholars, teachers, and aficionados." --Anne Marie Candido in Arkansas Historical Quarterly


"Anyone interested in Hemingway's life between 1927 and 1940 should consult this book." --The Hemingway Review, Fall 2012


"[A] significant contribution to setting the record straight" --Publishers Weekly, April 2012


"Because Pauline was a private person and the only one of Hemingway's four wives to precede him in death, Ernest's self-serving account of their relationship and of the Pfeiffer family's influence on him has unfortunately been the primary source for Hemingway scholars. Hawkins's book is a welcome corrective." --Norman E. Stafford in Arkansas Review, 2012


"A riveting portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating biography of Pauline Pfeiffer, the most intriguing--and most misunderstood--of the Hemingway wives. This compelling story about the Hemingway/Pfeiffer relationship significantly enriches our understanding of this complicated man, and, along the way, introduces us to a new heroine in the Hemingway saga." --Mary Dearborn, author of Mailer: A Biography

From the Inside Flap

It was the glittering intellectual world of 1920s Paris expatriates in which Pauline Pfeiffer, a writer for Vogue, met Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley among a circle of friends that included Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Dorothy Parker. Pauline grew close to Hadley but eventually forged a stronger bond with Hemingway himself; with her stylish looks and dedication to Hemingway's writing, Pauline became the source of "unbelievable happiness" for Hemingway and, by 1927, his second wife. Pauline was her husband's best editor and critic, and her wealthy family provided moral and financial support, including the conversion of an old barn to a dedicated writing studio at the family home in Piggott, Arkansas. The marriage lasted thirteen years, some of Hemingway's most productive, and the couple had two children. But the "unbelievable happiness" met with "final sorrow," as Hemingway wrote, and Pauline would be the second of Hemingway's four wives. "Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow" paints a full picture of Pauline and the role she played in Ernest Hemingway's becoming one of our greatest literary figures.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 333 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557289743
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557289742
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book rates a two-and-a-half stars.

Hopefully anyone who reads this book already has a good handle on Hemingway, his life and what he was like. You would know that he was a creative genius and also self-absorbed and self-centered to the extreme but also that he was incredibly focused whether he was fishing for marlin or hunting for lions and tigers and bears or shooting quail or attending a bullfight. He was most focussed when he was writing.

I had hoped for fresh insight into Pauline Pfeiffer, into the attraction then affair then marriage then divorce of Pauline and Ernest Hemingway and into the specific ways that she was Hemingway's "best editor." Instead, there was a lot of research from other already published books on Hemingway with some anecdotes being lifted directly from those books. There was virtually no evidence and no new research on the ways that Pauline was his "best editor." And, the author asserts that Pauline was actually innocent and naïve about men, that she was completely seduced by Hemingway (versus the other way around, which is how Hemingway would have us believe it in A Moveable Feast), who was himself seduced by her money. The latter is an "old" claim, however. Apparently Ernest had more than simply a passing interest in Pauline's sister Virginia, but the author only hints at this, raising more questions than she answers.

However, this book did answer some questions I had on Pauline's "Uncle Gus,"-- his generous and important financial and emotional support of Hemingway, so this small amount of fresh insight prevented me from giving this book only one star. The Pfeiffer family in general was quite interesting, and the brothers--Pauline's father, Uncle Gus, etc.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The second Mrs. Hemingway deserved this well-researched and highly readable book. I was fascinated by the twists and turns of her relationship with Hemingway and moved by the kind and generous members of her family. The Pfeiffers played an enormous role in Hemingway's success, and this book brings their contributions to vivid life. A must-read for those interested in Hemingway and his complex relationships with wives, friends, relatives and the world.
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If you have read every Hemingway biography. As I have, this is still a great read for you. I have not been sympathetic to Pauline in the past, thinking she got what she deserved for "stealing" Papa from the virtuous Hadley. But this book puts the matter in a whole different light. Ernest bears the bulk of the responsibility for his three divorces (and he would have left Mary too, if he hadn't been too old and infirm to do so). The truth is he benefited greatly from Pauline's family money, her editorial skills, and her emotional support over the years. He did some of his best writing when he was with her; built a quiet haven for him in Key West, let him fish and come and go as he pleased. Ernest was hateful in his treatment of friends and women alike. Such a great talent, but not a kind or happy man. A great and useful read, highly recommend.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Hemingway was a great writer this fact is indisputable , that he was also a selfish,neurotic,self pitying bully becomes clear in this book.He seemed to view people as having value only as it pertained to their ability to serve him either emotionally or sexually. He was jealous of other people's successes and could be driven to downright cruelty by envy and jealously.He slept with ,married,and later cast off a succession of unfortunate women who had foolishly worshipped at the altar of his"genius". In poor Pauline case she subjugated her own considerable talent to become his " slave" only to be cast aside by Earnest after he no longer needed her family's money. Pauline used her" friendship" with Hemingways first wife Hadley to seduce Hemingway into her bed,prompting some people to say she got what she deserved( be careful what you wish for ) They were both TERRIBLE parents ( she , an unnatural mother whose children came in a distant third to her emotionally devouring husband )But all and all,I think the punishment of being Hemingway's's wife far outweighed the crime of being a "conscience-less home-wrecker ( which she most certainly was) . In the end he died like he lived ,a self pitying selfish "sh-t"
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book very much. I didn't know a lot of detail about Hemingway or his wives, but after reading this, will be reading other Hemingway biographies.
I think the author did a great job researching the family of his second wife. Very interesting and well done.
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it is a very interesting and informative book on Hemingway's life in Key West with his second wife. For someone who had already read a biography of his first wife,Hadley, this book provides good additional information and point of view. It portrays his second woman as completely devoted to him, someone who gave up everything to support her famous husband. The only negative thing that I can say is that it seems somewhat biased towards the Pffeifer family - they are all wonderful angels and Hemingway did not show enough gratitude, etc. which is a bit sickening.
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