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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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What kind of man was he?


I liked him. He had no reason then to be disagreeable. We had been very successful with his books, and it was just a friendly visit. After that I would meet him once in a while.

Our interest in Hemingway was really sharpened last year when Hotchner wrote Papa Hemingway. I think in the last years of his life, Hemingway was a rather ridiculous figure. This “papa Hemingway” stuff was pretty childish. Some of the friends that he had were very third-rate. That story in the New Yorker by Lillian Ross I think showed him up for what he had become. Of course his end was tragic. He was gradually losing his mind obviously. But when Hotchner came in to tell us that he was going to do this book about him, it was intended to be just a trip that he took with Hemingway from the Italian Riviera to Spain. It seemed legitimate to us to have him do this--I heard some of the stories that he told--since Hemingway had done the same thing to Scott Fitzgerald in his book A Moveable Feast.

Since he had been very cruel to Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein and friends of his, I thought that it was legitimate to do a similar book about him. But then, the book expanded; and, when Hotchner brought it in, it was a full-length book instead of a small book and rather sensational. I'm not sure it was in the best of taste, but it was a pretty fascinating book and it was taken by the Book- of-the-Month Club and became a huge success.

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