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Auction: Auction 19.05.2000
was auctioned on: 19 May 2000
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HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Autograph manuscript signed of the story "The Light of the World." [Nordquist L-Bar-T Ranch, Cooke, Montana, August 1932]. 24 pages, 4to and folio, pages 1-20 on good quality wove tan paper, 4to, 278 x 216 mm. (11 x 8½ in.), pages ...

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Estimate: US$60,000 - US$80,000
Price realised:  US$127,000
Lot number 301, Views: 26

HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Autograph manuscript signed of the story "The Light of the World." [Nordquist L-Bar-T Ranch, Cooke, Montana, August 1932]. 24 pages, 4to and folio, pages 1-20 on good quality wove tan paper, 4to, 278 x 216 mm. (11 x 8½ in.), pages 21-24 on laid white paper, folio, 228 x 205 mm. (13 x 8 in.), all in dark pencil on rectos only, a working draft with extensive revisions by Hemingway, titled and signed ("Ernest Hemingway") by him in ink at beginning; most of top margin on first page irregularly torn away (presumably by Hemingway) and professionally renewed, first page and two others a little foxed, slight foxing to some other pages, each sheet in acid-free protective sleeve; the manuscript in very good condition. "IT'S A LOVELY STORY": THE RECENTLY DISCOVERED MANUSCRIPT OF ONE OF HEMINGWAY'S PERSONAL FAVORITES AMONG HIS STORIES Hemingway writes about finishing this story in a letter to Jane Mason of 27 August 1932 (sold in Christie's sale 10 December 1999, lot 182): "I have the manuscript, finally of 'The Light of the World' -- it's ready to send. Had to get it right and then copy it and the typewriter was busted [his wife Pauline prepared the typescript]. This is the original [presumably the very manuscript offered here]. Would enclose it now but reading it over it has so many words they do not print that you had better ask me for it. Then your blood is on your own head and I did not send you too rough a manuscript through the mail unsolicited. It has a lot or rather a few places that they won't print but it's a lovely story." Hemingway's "lovely story" is a hard-boiled but elusive tale about two teenage boys, Nick Adams (unnamed) and Tom encountering adult low life in a small town in northern Michigan. After a disagreeable experience in a saloon, where Tom responds "Up your ass" to the bartender (changed to "You know where" in the published text), the boys go to the train station: "We'd come in that town at one end and we were going out the other. It smelled of hides and tan bark and the big piles of sawdust. It was getting dark as we came in, and now that it was dark it was cold and the puddles of water in the road were freezing at the edges. Down at the station there were five whores [the manuscript also has 'four' and 'a bunch of' scored through] waiting for the train to come in, and six white men [first 'six' and then 'three' crossed out] and four Indians [later in the manuscript mistakenly changed to 'three' -- Hemingway getting confused with the enumerations]. It was crowded and hot from the stove and full of stale smoke. As we came in nobody was talking and the ticket window was shut down." As soon as they enter, they notice a man [the cook] whose "face was white and [whose] hands were white and thin." Another man asks Nick Adams: "'Ever buggar a cook?'...'No.' 'You can buggar this one,' he looked at the cook. 'He likes it.'" ("Buggar" in the manuscript becomes "interfere with" in the printed version.) The boys then listen to an involved, black-humored argument between two of the whores (both enormously fat, named "Alice" and "Peroxide") as to which one knew and loved the boxer Steve Ketchel the best [confusing him with the "Great White Hope" fighter Stanley Ketchel]. At the end Nick has become interested in Alice and his friend Tom eases him out of the station. "'Which way are you boys going?' asks the cook. 'The other way from you,' Tom tells him." Hemingway biographer Michael Reynolds expresses the essence of "The Light of the World": "Night visitors in a surreal world of words without action, threats unrealized, temptations unanswered: it was an enigmatic story whose center lay just beyond definition" ( Hemingway: The 1930s , p. 97). The manuscript has revisions (in the same dark pencil, and then again in a slightly lighter pencil) by Hemingway on all but five pages. All of the deleted or changed words, phrases, or lines are very readable under the pencil scorings, showing the great pains Hemingw

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Christie's
Title: Auction 19.05.2000
Date of the auction: 19 May 2000
Address: Christie's
New York, Rockefeller Center