La Repubblica, August 19, 2010

Gunshot kills Hemingway”. It was a Monday, July 3, 1961, when the newspapers divulged the news on the death of American novelist who had been ill for a long time, depressed and obsessed by the conspiracies that the CIA and FBI had orchestrated against him for his ties with Cuba and Fidel Castro. The first news stories talked about an accident while cleaning a shotgun. Then, the testimony of “Mr. Papa’s” fourth wife, Mary Welsh, accredited the version of suicide. No one had ever opened it up again for discussion, it was and still is part of history. Instead, about half a century later, exactly 49 years after his death, there are people who believe he was killed: and they believe it was Mary Welsh herself who had killed him. For what reason? Maybe upon “Hem’s” request: euthanasia. Or perhaps, she was in cahoots with the CIA agents to impede Hemingway from continuing to give public support to Fidel’s regime (in April, however, there was the disembarkation of the anticastros, then the annihilation at the Baia dei Porci, The Bay of Pigs). The presumed revelations have been entrusted to a film in production in Italy, “The World of Hemingway” and to a book, “Hemingway for Cuba” which at its time had a curious happening. The book was ready in 2009 but has still not been distributed. It is now being published by Shakespeare and Company and will be presented in September in Cuba. Giuseppe Recchia, author, journalist and editor sustained this thesis. He is also leading spirit of the legendary Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, founded by Sylvia Beach. As a matter of fact, it seems rather improbable. Firstly, the presumed truth is not recounted in a journalistic probe but rather in a novel; secondly the circumstances regarding Hemingway’s death, his illness and a previous attempt to take his own life, support the theory of suicide. But Recchia seems convinced of what he says. He explains it like this: <Margaux Hemingway, Hemingway’s favourite granddaughter, was the first, not to believe it was suicide. In the 1970’s, when I met Margaux in Paris, she told me the big secret herself. Curiousity made me follow that path and brought me half way around the world, from Havana to New York. More confirmations came from other people, above all from an ex-Soviet diplomat and Mary Welsh herself>. Recchia’s reconstruction was appreciated by an “Americanist”, the Turinese Claudio Gorlier, enough to persuade him to write the preface for the English edition of “Hemingway for Cuba”. Amongst other things, the scholar said that the physical state of the author of “The Old Man and the Sea”, in that summer of ’61, was such that it would not permit him to raise or hold a shotgun. Perhaps. The fact remains that the witnesses made reference to in the book are all deceased, Margaux as well. Moreover, there are neither recordings nor written documentation. Recchia never loses his composure: <I could not have recorded the man’s secrets from Moscow, nor those of Welsh’s! Even more so, I could not have photocopied KGB papers! In conclusion, for these and other reasons, I chose to write a novel based on true facts>. A reality novel, like the title recited in a famous column of Mino Milani in the Domenica del Corriere? Or just fiction? The thriller rests in both cases. – MASSIMO NOVELLI


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