University of Virginia Library

A Lost Passage from Hemingway's 'Macomber'
Leger Brosnahan

A comparison of the first printing of Ernest Hemingway's 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber' in Cosmopolitan (September 1936) with the second, and since standard, printing of the story in The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories (New York: Scribner's, 1938) shows that the greatest single difference between these two clearly independent forms of the story is the suppression in the Scribner's 1938 and later printings of a passage of about 100 words near the climax of the lion hunt (Cosmopolitan 168, FCFFS 116, later printings 17). The ribbon typescript used as setting copy for the Cosmopolitan printing is now in the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University and was described by John M. Howell and Charles A. Lawler in 'From Abercrombie and Fitch to the First Forty-Nine Stories: The Text of Ernest Hemingway's 'Francis Macomber' (Proof 2 [1972]: 212-281). They predicted that the carbon copy, then inaccessible to them but listed among the Hemingway papers and used as setting copy for the Scribner's printing, would be found to be the carbon of the Cosmopolitan ribbon copy, that it would make few substantive changes in the text, and that it would probably prove


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that the deleted passage of about 100 words should be restored to the text (233). The carbon is now accessible in the Hemingway collection at the Kennedy Library and confirms all of these predictions.

Howell and Lawler argued correctly that the carbon copy was from the ribbon copy because the thirty-ninth page of the ribbon copy was misnumbered 33, whereas the account of the carbon by Phillip Young and Charles W. Mann, in The Hemingway Manuscripts: An Inventory (1969), described it (7i) as paginated (1) 2-33 but repaginated 634-672 for the 1938 Scribner's collection, indicating a thirty-nine-page typescript. The carbon copy is clearly the carbon of the ribbon copy and shows that the page number of page 39 was typed 3 39, with the first 3 two spaces left of the left page margin. The 3 39 was then miscorrected on the ribbon copy by the erasure of the 9 instead of the first 3.

Comparison of the ribbon copy with the carbon copy also shows that Hemingway corrected the ribbon copy for Cosmopolitan very carefully and in great detail but corrected the carbon copy for the collection independently and much less carefully and left standing in the carbon copy errors that he had corrected in the ribbon copy, e.g. 'Won't shoot unless it's close enough so you can make sure' (167, 11, 12) and 'Macomber had not thought how the lion felt as he got out of the car' (168, 114, 15). Substantive changes of the text in the carbon copy were limited to changing 'A good fifty inches, too' (172) to 'A good fifty inches or better. Better' (135, 36) and deleting the 100-word passage.

Comparison of the ribbon and carbon copies with their respective printings shows that the editors at Cosmopolitan took a number of small, relatively unimportant liberties with the corrected ribbon copy, but that the Scribner's copy editor was, with one great exception, even excessively respectful of the corrected carbon copy, the exception being the large deleted passage. Comparison of the ribbon and carbon copies shows clearly what happened.

When Hemingway finished typing the passage in question, on the lower half of page 16 of the typescripts, he rolled the copies down to type the interlined addition 'that ran away behind the river bank trees' near the middle of the page. In rolling the copies down, or in removing them from the machine, he wrinkled the carbon, which smudged and made a number of carbon marks that resemble pencil marks over the passage immediately below the typed interlined addition. He separated the copies before correcting the ribbon copy for Cosmopolitan, but while the carbon was still above the carbon copy, he apparently accidentally rolled a wooden pencil with a metal eraser-holder over the carbon and carbon copy under a heavy book, probably a dictionary. This added six wavy parallel lines from margin to margin across the already smudged and carbon-marked passage. These combined accidental carbon markings convinced the Scribner's copy editor that Hemingway intended to cancel the passage. The editor then made the cancellation perfectly clear with a ruled red pencil line through the line below the typed interlined addition and three vertical red pencil arrows descending from it to the end of the passage.


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But examination of this cancelled passage shows clearly that Hemingway corrected it, less extensively than in the ribbon copy but virtually from end to end, marking gun bearers for closure in the first line of the cancelled passage and correcting an over-typed o-u in poch with a handwritten pouch in the last. More important still, he inserted in his distinctive and easily recognized hand a full, never printed sentence, 'There's the dark and the light blood (x)' just after 'You gut-shot him and you hit him forward.' Without arguing the larger question of which of the independent forms of the story and of this passage have the better claim to be definitive, it is clear that the 100-word passage, with its never printed additional sentence, should be restored to the form of the Scribner's, and since standard, printing of the story.