Hemingway’s new life and his Catholicism

[A weekend of guests led to a 4 a.m. wakeup to get them to the airport by 5 a.m., which we did. I then talked to Papa for a little bit, but never found the time and energy to transcribe and print, until this morning. I will transcribe and print this morning’s take after a bit.]

Monday, October 19, 2015
F: 6 a.m. All right, Papa, don’t know if I’m up to this after my early morning run to the airport and a very brief nap, but let’s see.
EH: Let’s begin with my new external life. I was now living with a stylish woman accustomed to having money – which means, accustomed to having what she wanted. She was assertive, in bed and out, in every way a different experience from Hadley. In fact, that’s part of the original overwhelming desire – she was so different. As I say, I was wanting to tear up my old life, or, no, that isn’t the way to say it. I was wanting to expand my old life. I didn’t want to trade in one model for another, but to add whole new territories to what I had already made mine.
You might say that for a while she reinforced the “respectability” end of my internal civil war. Of course if I had thought that through, I would have realized that it was only a matter of time until she began reminding me of the constricting influence of my mother. But I didn’t, probably in those days couldn’t have thought it through. Most of what was going on was behind my consciousness.
So when you see photographs of Pauline and me on an ocean liner, I am dressed up and she is dressed up – as always – and don’t we look like success. Our life in Paris was amid a very different set and in different quarters than my life had been with Hadley. And of course there was the loose but effective discipline of the Catholic Church in my life now.
F: “Loose but effective.” What do you mean by that?
EH: It’s hard to say clearly. I considered myself a Catholic and it fit me – but there are Catholics, and Catholics. Pauline was an American Catholic because her family happened to be Catholic. If the Pfeiffers had happened to be Lutherans or something, she would still have been Pauline and without much difference. Of course, she would have howled in outrage if I had suggested that, but really, her Catholicism was closer to ancestor reverence than to an innate draw by choice. She didn’t realize it, and I wasn’t fool enough to point it out.
But I, on the other hand, was drawn by the religion of the European peasants. That is how I experienced it, that is what I related to, that participation fed something in me.
Now, don’t make this into a political statement. I wasn’t siding with the poor against the rich, and all that. I was recognizing, participating in, being fed by, my instinctive sense of belonging that I had with them and [did] not necessarily [have] with the ricos. Not because I objected to people being rich – I became rich myself, and until the money gets to be too much money, it is a good thing, opening opportunities. But because money tends to insulate you from the world.
Now, I said this was going to be difficult to write. Not for emotional reasons, but because it’s just difficult to say clearly.
I say, loosely, “the peasants,” but although they often exemplify what I mean, they don’t always, and plenty of other people in other walks of life do. It isn’t exactly a class thing.
It is, primarily, a matter of perception. It is how you experience the world.
F: I may be too tired to do this.
EH: Any time will do. We’ll get it when we get it.
F: Okay, thanks and till next time.

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