"IT IS VERY BEAUTIFUL TO HAVE A BOOK LIKE THIS LAST ONE COME OUT BECAUSE THEN YOU CAN SEE WHO REALLY LIKES WHAT YOU WRITE AND KNOWS WHAT IT IS ABOUT—AND WHO MERELY ACTED AS THOUGH THEY LIKED IT TO BE IN FASHION": FASCINATING UNFINISHED HEMINGWAY AUTOGRAPH LETTER FROM THE 1930S IN WHICH HE WRITES ABOUT HIS LEGENDARY STOLEN SUITCASE OF MANUSCRIPTS AND DISCUSSES "AN ENTIRELY NEW SCHOOL OF CRITICISM (WITH NEW REASONS FOR DISLIKING THE SAME THINGS)"
HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Unfinished, unsigned autograph draft of a letter. Piggott, Arkansas: December 25, [1930, 1932, or 1934]. One leaf of gray wove paper, 6-1/4 by 8-1/4 inches, penned on both sides for two pages. $12,500.
Unfinished, unpublished autograph two-page draft of an unsent and unsigned letter from Hemingway to Fanny Butcher, in which he references the famous lost manuscripts that his first wife Hadley had left in a suitcase stolen after boarding a train to visit him in the early 1920s and discusses writing, criticism and critics: "Now that they have replaced religion with economics as the opium of the people there is an entirely new school of criticism (with new reasons for disliking the same things) but if you can write and will write they can prove you are no good by any system of criticism they invent and it will not hurt your stuff if it is worth anything."
The letter reads, in full: "Dear Miss Butcher: You were very good to write me about the book and it made me happy that you liked it. About Buddy Wegg and a novel about Oak Park—don't let him be surprised. I wrote a long one that was lost in mss [manuscript] when all my mss was stolen in a suitcase my wife was bringing down to Lausanne when I was covering the conference in 1922 or 1923 (can't remember dates). Eventually will write about the middle west and my family again but would rather have a couple of people die first—if I thought that time would be short for me to work in would write it now and maybe I'll have to anyway.
"It is very beautiful to have a book like this last one come out because then you can see who really likes what you write and knows what it is about—and who merely acted as though they liked it to be in fashion.
"Now that they have replaced religion with economics as the opium of the people there is an entirely new school of criticism (with new reasons for disliking the same things) but if you can write and will write they can prove you are no good by any system of criticism they invent and it will not hurt your stuff if it is worth anything—nor can they help it if it isn't.
"But criticism, when it shows confidence in you by the person writing it, is the…" Unfortunately, the letter ends there, without finishing the sentence. The intended recipient, Fanny Butcher, was a writer and critic for the Chicago Tribune for 40 years, who first met Hemingway in 1929 in Paris. Unpublished correspondence between Hemingway and Butcher—in the Butcher papers at the Newberry Library—testifies to Hemingway's attention to Butcher and to readers whom he felt shared her literary sensibilities. At the same time, in published correspondence with family and other writers, Hemingway often referred to Butcher disparagingly (as in his letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1927—before he met her—in which he referred to her as "Fanny Butcher the woman with the Veal Brains"; Baker, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 261). So perhaps a wish to set the record straight, when it came to critics and criticism, coupled with a desire to not offend or alienate, caused the letter to remain unfinished. (While the year is not given, Hemingway celebrated Christmas with his second wife Pauline in her hometown of Piggott, Arkansas in the years of 1930, 1932, and 1934.).
Faint horizontal fold line. Fine condition. An intriguing draft of a letter that Hemingway never sent.