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"Restoring" A Moveable Feast

movableScribner caused a stir earlier this year by announcing it would publish a “restored” edition of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Why? Because the original edition was edited after the author’s death by Hemingway’s fourth wife and literary executor, Mary, who reordered parts of Hemingway’s unfinished manuscript and included parts he had wished to exclude–including a chapter that that portrays his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, in a negative light. Scribner claims the new edition is what Heminway actually intended:

Since Hemingway’s personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined and debated the changes made to the text before publication. Now, this new special restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author intended it to be published.

But is it more accurate, or revisionist? The new edition is edited by Pfeiffer and Hemingway’s grandson, Sean Hemingway. From the NY Times:

Among the changes he has made is removing part of that final chapter from the main body of the book and placing it in an appendix, adding back passages from Hemingway’s manuscript that Seán believes paint his grandmother in a more sympathetic light.“I think this edition is right to set the record straight,” said Seán Hemingway, 42, who said Mary cut out Hemingway’s “remorse and some of the happiness he felt and his very conflicted views he had about the end of his marriage.”

Now that the “restored edition” is out, Hemingway biographer and longtime friend A. E. Hotchner (also in the NY Times) calls it “bowlderized” and questions the influence descendants might have over published books:

As an author, I am concerned by Scribner’s involvement in this “restored edition.” With this reworking as a precedent, what will Scribner do, for instance, if a descendant of F. Scott Fitzgerald demands the removal of the chapter in “A Moveable Feast” about the size of Fitzgerald’s penis, or if Ford Madox Ford’s grandson wants to delete references to his ancestor’s body odor.

What do other writers think? Was Scribner right to allow Sean Hemingway to “restore” the text of A Moveable Feast? How should a publisher handle the editing of posthumous, unfinished works?

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