This month the 33rd Annual Hemingway Festival ‘Hemingway Days’ was held in Key West, Florida Keys, including such celebratory events as a ‘Papa’ look-alike contest (see below), readings and book signings, and an awards ceremony for the literary competition, directed by Hemingway’s granddaughter Lorian Hemingway. The festival went from the 16th to the 21st of July, ending on Hemingway’s birthday (this year his 114th). Arguably, Hemingway is one of the two most famous American authors, besides Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), having influenced a great number of aspiring authors with his famous minimalist prose.
Yet Mark Twain, America’s first humorist and author of the ‘great American novel’ Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), was America’s first great celebrity author. Of Twain, Hemingway stated: ‘All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.’ This phrase was endearingly parodied in Woody Allen’s classic Midnight in Paris (2011). Indeed, Mark Twain’s idiosyncratic prose, a Southern sounding dialogue that was meant to mirror authentic America, as well as his comedic touch, is apparent in much of the author’s work, including, in part, his final work which was in the form of a disordered autobiography. Although Twain purportedly thought it would be an amusing gesture to go off on whims and ramblings, disrupting the flow of the work, several archivists and editors have attempted to omit these from the work. In November 2010, a complete text of the first volume was published by the University of California Press, as part of the Mark Twain Project, with a total of 743 pages. This edition coincided with the 100th anniversary year of Twain’s death, and became an instant bestseller. The second volume is scheduled to be published in October of this year, with a total of 736 pages.