Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tracing Hemingway On the Edge of the Ngorongoro Crater

On May 22, 2015, during one of our phone conversations, Patrick Hemingway, the only remaining child of Ernest Hemingway, told me that a new edition of Ernest Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa, prepared by Sean Hemingway, was about to be published. He said it contains his mother Pauline Pfeiffer's diary, which she wrote while on safari with Hemingway in Tanganyika in 1933-34.

I knew for years about this diary which is kept at Stanford University, and I had wanted to go there to read it. Imagine my excitement upon hearing that it was being published.

In due course, I discovered the new edition of Green Hills of Africa on Amazon and ordered it. It is a rich resource, including a foreword by Patrick, an introduction by Sean Hemingway, photos, sample drafts of Hemingway's writing, and of course, Pauline's diary.

Just like Green Hills of Africa, Pauline's diary presents memorable descriptions of places I have visited while traveling with students on my Hemingway in East Africa course about which I first wrote on this blog. The photo above, taken in 2007, shows me with a student on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, which Pauline described as follows:

Here I am sitting all alone on top of Ngorongoro Crater in the rain. Mr. Percival is worried about the trucks getting up the grades and perhaps everyone has gone to see about them. The crater is very beautiful, about twelve miles across and blue, gray and green, all flat from this height, but you can see grass and trees and thousands of wildebeest. Ernest could see zebra but I couldn't. It is a game reserve, and in the hands of the Maasai. We are spending Christmas Eve here, and it will be very cold at night--maybe before with this rain and wind. We climbed all morning, a native driving at great speed up the one-car road. About two-thirds up the jungle started, the first we had seen, and very beautiful and tangled with roots and overhanging branches--pretty awful to get lost in. (p. 207)

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