I mean, call me crazy, but I really prefer Dorothy’s own poem about suicide, which, if you aren’t already familiar with it (you probably are) runs:
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
The most remarkable part of this whole episode is that Dorothy never knew about it. Everyone – this exceedingly articulate, gossipy group at the MacLeish party – agreed that they would never mention it to her. This seems like a tasteful move. Or was it? On one hand, you could say that running around telling Dorothy about this incident is the equivalent of a snarky schoolchildren running up to a peer and saying “I know someone who doesn’t like you!” but it did leave Dorothy with an impression of Hemingway very different from the one she might otherwise have had (had she known about this incident, I have full confidence she could have vivisected him in print).
As a result, until the end of her life, Dorothy continued to refer to Hemingway as an innovative writer and a person with many estimable qualities. 12 years after that unfortunate party at the MacLeish’s she was assigned to review Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” for PM and she wrote:
There are many authors who have written about love, all about the gamut from embarrassment to enchantment. There are many who have written about sex and have got rich and fat and pale at the job. But nobody can write as Ernest Hemingway can of a man and a woman together, their completion and their fulfillment. And nobody can make melodrama as Ernest Hemingway can, nobody else can get such excitement upon a printed page. I do not feel that the creation of excitement is a minor achievement. ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ is nothing to warrant a display of adjectives. Adjectives are dug from soil too long worked, and they make sickly praise and stumbled reading. I think that what you do about this book of Ernest Hemingway’s is to point to it and say, ‘Here is a book.’ As you would stand below Everest and say, ‘Here is a mountain.’
I mean, that’s a really nice review, considering Hemingway was a dickbag.