Big Papa in Italy: Photos of Hemingway Shown at Library

June 2, 2011

Guests at the May 23 opening of Hemingway's Veneto, a photography exhibition at the Brooklyn College Library, could be forgiven for thinking that they had, at least momentarily, been transported to Italy, what with the Italian general consul, Francesco Maria Talò, walking about the room and an appetizing spread of fine Italian wine and Piave cheese. On the library walls, scene upon scene of Ernest Hemingway enjoying life in Venice and among the surrounding hillsides captivated viewers.

As the exhibit attests, Hemingway found much to enjoy in the Veneto region. The sepia-tone photographs — some of which he took himself, but most part of a private collection that had never been seen publicly — show him enjoying life 10 years before his suicide: jumping out of a gondola, in a marsh hunting ducks, sitting at a bar enjoying champagne.

Many of the most interesting photographs show him with Fernanda Pivani, who translated his work, particularly the novel A Farewell to Arms and the short story collection Over the River and Through the Woods, into Italian.

Hemingway's Veneto, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his death, was curated by Italian professors Gianni Moriani and Rosella Mamoli Zorzi and debuted in Italy before coming to Brooklyn.

"Hemingway loved the Veneto region's fishing, hunting and grand villas," Moriani said during his talk at the opening, with the help of translator, Valerio Ferrari.

Italians reciprocated Hemingway's affection. Professor of English Robert Viscusi, head of the Wolfe Institute for the Humanities, spoke of the dominant floridness of Italian writing, particularly apparent in political writing. But writers such as Hemingway, who write in a more simple style, are held in singular esteem. "There is a culture of simplicity in prose and in poetry among writers in Italy."

Associate Professor Miriam Deutch, who coordinated the exhibit for the library, spoke of what she considered the most intriguing aspects of the photographs. "Hemingway is a seminal American author who most…have either read or heard about," she said. The photographs open the viewer to a deeper understanding of "the author's experiences and how they relate to his books."

Hemingway's Veneto: A Photographic Exhibition will be on view in the library until August 1 for you to enjoy the life Hemingway led in this wonderful region of Italy.


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