In the Company of Writers

I recently received a copy today  of the book, In the Company of Writers: A Life in Publishing (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990, 193 pages) which chronicles the history of Scribner’s Sons that was of course Ernest Hemingway’s publisher with Max Perkins for the majority of his work. The book is based on the oral history by Joel Gardner and written by Charles Scribner, Jr. himself. Hemingway is mentioned throughout the book but my focus will be on the fourth chapter entitled My Life with Hemingway (pp 63-87).

11/25/11 – As expected this was indeed a great chapter to read. I was curious what Charles Scribner’s perspective would be on certin issues especially publishing Hemingway’s work posthumously.

“Hemingway left strict instructions that his letters not be published. But, with Mary’s approval, I published them – and I think I did the right thing. To begin with, he had kidded my father about publishing his letters, so he thought of such a thing. Second, I believe his letters show a side of him that nothing else in his work does, and it is a very nice side. I considered that I was justified.” (p. 85)

“Looking back, I am bound to say that working with Hemingway was rather like being strapped to an electric chair. All the electrodes were always in place, and it would need just the flicking of a switch to ruin me. I might do something quite innocently that would be taken amiss and I would be in outer darkness forever. It was hard. It required constant diplomacy to keep everything smooth. I don’t think it made me cowardly, but it made me nervous.” (p. 87)


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