On Monday about 3,000 letters, notes, and other papers of Ernest Hemingway will be released online by the Finca Vincia Foundation, which operates the writer’s former home in Cuba. No lost novels or short stories are in the cache; the biggest find, according to a London Times story, are coded memos of his work tracking German U-boats during World War II.
The story doesn’t note that the news marks the end of a long struggle to get the papers salvaged from the crumbling home. Efforts by researchers to help save the work have been stymied by the Bush administration; in 2004 representatives of the Finca Vincia Foundation (then the Hemingway Preservation Foundation) were denied visas in to Cuba, because, according to a State Department spokesperson, “We are interested in helping people preserve the informational material that was produced by Ernest Hemingway, but the house is a tourist attraction, and because permitting Americans to engage in a transaction that would preserve that house would have the effect of supporting the Cuban regime’s tourist infrastructure, it is not consistent with our policy to permit that to happen.”
A 2007 St. Petersburg Times story notes that conservationists were allowed in 2005 for the next two years, which wasn’t enough time for them to finish their work. No word about what finally allowed the work to wrap up, or what’s freed the papers to come to the United States next month. In February, the collection moves to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Perhaps at some point the papers will make a visit to the worthy, if somewhat bedraggled, Ernest Hemingway Museum in Oak Park, Ill., which is right next to his childhood home. Hemingway famously wrote off the Chicago suburb by calling it a town of “broad lawns and narrow minds,” but it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area, and the home is apparently still doing some literary support work. Novelist Bill Hazelgrove has been writing in the attic of the Hemingway home for the past decade. Here’s a video tour of his nook: