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Hemingway Adventure


Milan, Italy 
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Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureWell, of course it didn’t happen quite like that, but it is true that from the moment I started out on what became three long television journeys I realised that the pleasure I was getting from often uncomfortable and frustrating adventures was not a million miles from the buzz I had felt on those days on the beach when I first encountered Hemingway’s world.

More recently, when it came to writing my novel, who should come muscling his way into it but Ernest Hemingway, and where was it set - in a small town on the Suffolk coast. It was clear that we were on a collision course. For my research I began to read more about him. His letters, his journalism, more short stories, biographies and memoirs and the less fashionable novels. And in everything I read, good, bad and indifferent, the same quality that attracted me thirty-five years before attracted me all over again - the unforced, unsensational, uncomplicated and magical ability to bring the world to life.

And this is how the Hemingway Adventure was born. His centenary supplied the spur, the BBC and PBS supplied the interest and I finally had the chance to experience those places that had fermented in my imagination for so long.

At the end of it, well, Hemingway’s world remains his. Great writing survives because it cannot be replaced, and because the process that created it can never be unpicked and replicated. And anyway, nothing stays the same, not even a mountainside or a pine forest. But I feel I’ve come closer to him. I have met people he met and travelled the way he travelled. There have been high times: in Venice, and chasing marlin on the Gulf Stream off Havana, and low times: finding the remains of his crashed plane in a small, fly-ridden town in deepest Uganda, or walking through the house at Ketchum where he ended his life; but there was not a day on the road when I didn’t think of him, this irascible, egotistical, obdurate figure whose writing had such ability to inspire
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Introduction
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 11

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