- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

An announcement by the Rockefeller Foundation that it is donating $75,000 toward preserving a large holding of novelist Ernest Hemingway's papers at his home in Cuba has revealed that American scholars have been given access to the valuable trove for the first time.
Mr. Hemingway spent the last 21 years of his life at Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm"), his unpretentious estate near Havana, and wrote some of his most admired works there, including "The Old Man and the Sea," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and his final memoir, "A Moveable Feast."
He was driven from Cuba in 1960 by Fidel Castro's communist revolution.
After the writer committed suicide in 1961 at his new home in Idaho, the Castro government allowed his widow, Mary, to remove just a fraction of his papers from Finca Vigia, which tourists were later allowed to visit but not enter. Most of the files and trunks that contained the papers have been kept in the damp, earthen-floored basement.
The Rockefeller Foundation came forward with its grant this week after a group of interested Hemingway scholars headed by Jenny Phillips, a granddaughter of Hemingway's editor, Maxwell Perkins, and helped by a Massachusetts congressman persuaded Cuban officials to give them access to the papers for the purpose of preserving and microfilming them.
Details of their plans are expected to be announced formally next month.
Sources at the Rockefeller Foundation told United Press International that Cuba will not allow the papers to be removed to the United States but has agreed to microfilming an electronic library of them for deposit at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston.
The library already has a modest Hemingway archive donated by Mrs. Hemingway.
Scholars and preservation experts are expected to begin work on the papers in Cuba in the near future.
Stephen Plotkin, a former curator at the Kennedy Library, has described the deterioration of the papers and damage by insects and rodents as "an archival emergency" despite the efforts of Cuban curators to preserve them with the minimal resources available.
A major figure in negotiating with the Cuban government has been Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who was approached by Miss Phillips to broach the subject of the papers' future in Cuba because of his advocacy of normalizing political relations with the Castro government.
It took the congressman a year to negotiate a deal whereby the papers would remain in Cuba but the microfilms could go to the United States. An initial agreement was signed last January, and in March, Miss Phillips visited the house with A. Scott Berg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who wrote a biography of her grandfather and is an expert on Mr. Hemingway.
Mr. Berg reported that he saw such material as fragments of never-finished stories, early drafts and annotated galleys of published works, letters from such personalities as poet Ezra Pound and Countess Adriana Ivancich, the model for his heroine in "Over the River and Into the Trees," memos to Mary Hemingway voicing concerns about their marriage, notes to servants, and recipes for his favorite dishes.
A screenplay for "The Old Man and the Sea" bears Mr. Hemingway's written suggestions for revisions.
"I think I've read all the biographies of Hemingway, and I've never had a complete sense of him until I smelled this house and saw some of these things," Mr. Berg said in an interview at the time. "This is what has been missing on Hemingway. This is the stuff that makes him come alive."
He estimated Finca Vigia contains 3,000 letters and documents; 3,000 photographs, including some taken by Mr. Hemingway's friend Frank Capa during the Spanish Civil War; and 9,000 books, many with Mr. Hemingway's comments written in the margins.

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