Ernest Hemingway's True at First Light
When Ernest Hemingway died in 1961, he left unfinished a body of works that have been posthumously edited and published. To date, these include three novels, a memoir, essays, stories, poetry, letters (which he did not want published), and interviews. Appearing at the centennial of the writer's birth, True at First Light seems to be the last of these. Hemingway's son took on the demanding task of turning approximately 800 pages of first-draft manuscript into a condensed work he terms a "fictional memoir." The author had begun writing this vivid depiction of the last days of colonial-era blood sport after a 1953 safari in Kenya and had abandoned it some years later.
Patrick Hemingway, who accompanied his father and stepmother during the 1953 sojourn and later lived in Africa for twenty-five years, described his work on True at First Light in a recent on-line interview. His editorial criterion "was essentially to keep as strong a story line as the original manuscript would allow. I had identified what I felt were the principal story lines. ... I wanted to make them as strong as possible and as integrated as possible. My tool was cutting, not making up material or inventing transitional passages." The result provides invaluable insights into a writer who changed the face of American fiction.
The title comes from Hemingway's line, "In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon. …