Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Extraordinary Life of Martha Gellhorn

I have never been a big Hemingway fan but I found this article about Martha Gellhorn to be interesting and tragic. Women are still struggling to have it all, and many end up with nothing. From Town and Country:
“Cuba makes me understand that I am old,” Gellhorn told Fuentes before she left Havana for the last time, over slugs of rum at his brightly painted house in Cojimar. She understood that in the movie of Hemingway’s life she was “the villain, the bad girl.” I would argue that she chose the role of villain over dissembling, forced to choose by the cruel dilemma she found herself in. “Are you a war correspondent or wife in my bed?” he had cabled. And here she had been thinking she could have it all.

“Be advised, love passes,” she once wrote. “Work alone remains.” After Hemingway, she would swing from relationship to relationship, mostly with married men, tiring of love again and again, or tiring of herself in it. She strode, mostly alone, through 53 countries and described herself as feeling “permanently dislocated—un voyageur sur la terre.”

She worked until she couldn’t, went to war until her body couldn’t take the strain, wrote until blindness encroached. Like Hemingway, she chose suicide when things grew too dire. She was 89 and had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. Only recently had she stopped swimming and snorkeling. Right up to the end she was thinking about traveling—a trip to Egypt, perhaps, to get a long look at the pyramids.

“I want a life with people that is almost explosive in its excitement,” she wrote,“fierce and hard and laughing and loud and gay as all hell let loose.” It seems to me she had that life—and that it’s one worth looking at. Even searching for. (Read more.)

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