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Authors' moral rights: Don’t Touch ‘A Moveable Feast’

July 21, 2009

"BOOKSTORES are getting shipments of a significantly changed edition of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece, “A Moveable Feast,” first published posthumously by Scribner in 1964," writes A.E. Hotchner in an Op Ed piece, (Don't Touch 'A Moveable Feast'), for The New York Times. "This new edition, also published by Scribner, has been extensively reworked by a grandson who doesn’t like what the original said about his grandmother, Hemingway’s second wife."



"The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light."



The grandson's case:
"...that Mary Hemingway, Ernest’s fourth wife, cobbled the manuscript together from shards of an unfinished work and that she created the final chapter, 'There Is Never Any End to Paris.



Hotchner's case:
He describes how the manuscript came to be written, how very much Hemingway was involved in the book's development, how the manuscript was ready for publication while Hemingway was alive. Hotchner writes, "When I visited him in the Mayo Clinic a few months before his dementia led to his suicide, he was very concerned about his Paris book, and worried that it needed a final sentence, which it did not."



I suspect most authors will agree with Hotchner's argument against the grandson's and Scribner's behavior in publishing this "revised" edition:



"Scribner’s involvement with this bowdlerized version should be examined as it relates to the book’s actual genesis, and to the ethics of publishing."



"All publishers, Scribner included, are guardians of the books that authors entrust to them. Someone who inherits an author’s copyright is not entitled to amend his work. There is always the possibility that the inheritor could write his own book offering his own corrections."



Check out both Hotchner's Op Ed piece and the Times story ‘Moveable Feast’ Is Recast by Hemingway Grandson

Comments

  1. August 21, 2009 7:48 PM EDT
    I thought this was a bad foretaste of things to come. It's probably a good thing Jane Austen has no heirs! There were supposedly two sides to the story, and I blogged about them here: Literary Vandalism? Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” (New Scribner Edition). Thanks for all the great links: I really enjoyed "You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss."
    - Janice Campbell, www.NAIWE.com