by Matthew Tomlin. Daily Vidette Reporter
Illinois Wesleyan professor of English and Department Chair James Plath wrote text and captions for the new book “Historic Photos of Ernest Hemingway,” a photographic journey through the life of a literary giant.
“For me it was a learning experience,” he said. “It was the first time I really took a look at the different Hemingway biographies, looking to scrutinize certain facts and periods.”
Released by Turner Publishing in March, the book contains 200 black and white photos of the adventurous author. Plath deviated from Turner’s traditional format for writing captions and text, instead giving a more complete and thorough background to the pictures.
“I designed them in a way that first kind of took them aback,” he said. “They’re used to stand alone captions, mine were jam packed full and flowed from one to the next. So, if you look at the captions from cover to cover, you get a pretty good mini-biography of Ernest Hemingway.”
As co-author of the book “Remembering Ernest Hemingway,” Plath was well suited for the part. For 10 years he served as director of the Hemingway Days’ Writers Workshop and Conference in Hemingway’s former town of Key West, Fla.
In addition, many of his essays on Hemingway have been published in critical anthologies.
“Hemingway liked to play games, even with his friends. You never knew when he was putting you on or telling you something factual,” Plath said.
“One of the things the book really brings across is a kind of consistency of personality. You get to see the real person here, because as I say in the book, it’s hard to lie to a camera.”
Forrest “Duke” MacMullen, long-time friend and hunting and fishing partner of Hemingway, said the book provides an accurate portrayal of the iconic American author.
“[Hemingway] was all friend,” MacMullen said. “There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for you and he always had a smile on his face.”
They accused him of drinking a lot, but I never saw him drunk. I saw him giggly, but never drunk.”
MacMullen appears in a hunting photo with Hemingway, holding a live owl Hemingway had deliberately winged so he could have it stuffed.
Another photo is taken by MacMullen at the Hemingway house on Christmas, in 1958. In it, Hemingway is raising his glass, toasting MacMullen as he takes the picture.
“[Hemingway] was an actor. He played like Shakespeare said, that the world was his stage,” he said.
“Historic Photos of Ernest Hemingway” is available at Barnes and Noble bookstores and the bookstore at Illinois Wesleyan.