LITERATURE

Ernest Hemingway’s 1955 letter to Marlene Dietrich up for auction

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 10:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 11:15pm
GDN

Share

A surreal, graphic letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, in which the author addresses the film star as "Dearest Kraut" and imagines her "drunk and naked", is up for auction.

The pair met on the New York-bound liner Ile de France in 1934 and went on to enjoy a lifelong friendship.

Although their letters were full of feeling, they were not lovers, with Hemingway once calling them "victims of un-synchronised passion".

"Those times when I was out of love, the Kraut was deep in some romantic tribulation, and those occasions when Dietrich was on the surface and swimming about with those marvellously seeking eyes, I was submerged," he said.

In his 1955 letter to Dietrich, signed Papa, the Nobel prize-winning writer responds to her complaints about her Las Vegas show, saying, if he were to stage it, "it would probably have something novel like having you shot onto the stage, drunk, from a self-propelled minenwerfer".

"As you landed on the stage drunk and naked I would advance from the rear, or your rear, wearing evening clothes ... and announce that we were sorry that we did not know the lady was loaded," Hemingway wrote.

The letter will be included in an online auction next Monday, and is expected to fetch up to US$50,000. It was written six years before Hemingway's suicide, during the filming of The Old Man and the Sea.

Although the bulk of Hemingway's papers - including 30 letters to Dietrich - are housed at the John F Kennedy library in Boston, a few letters were kept by Dietrich's grandchildren, who are auctioning hundreds of her possessions online this month.

The August 28, 1955, "Dearest Kraut" letter, said auctioneer Auction My Stuff, was the first Hemingway letter to Dietrich to come to auction since 1997.