Spanier’s Hemingway Letters Project Obtains Grant

We all know who Ernest Hemingway is. Chances are that you read A Farewell To Arms or one of his other famous novels in high school — well, read them on Sparknotes, but you get the idea. Thanks to his writing, Hemingway has earned a reputation as a brash, war-hardened, angry man. But that reputation is being changed, largely thanks to a the Hemingway Letters Project led by Penn State professor Sandra Spanier, wife of our dear former leader Graham Spanier.

A collection of Hemingway letters was published by Cambridge University and is currently being analyzed by Spanier & Co, revealing a much more sensitive man than his public image led most to believe.  A National Endowment for the Humanities grant is going to fund the next stage of the international project. Volume 1 of the project was published almost a year ago.

“Ernest Hemingway was a prolific letter writer, and this entire project will span 16 volumes encompassing more than 6,000 letters from 250 sources,” Spanier said in a press release. “In contrast to the painstaking craftsmanship of his fiction, Hemingway’s letters are spontaneous, informal and very garrulous at times. The letters give an eyewitness report of literary history. His appeal transcends politics and national borders. He also was an astute observer of his times, so his letters as well as his published work are a narrative of the 20th century. “

The Ernest Hemingway Foundation and the Hemingway estate, who have copyright on the letters, have allowed the project, which is taking place on campus, to go forward. Sandra Spanier’s team includes a general staff, as well as graduate and undergraduate assistants. The team is working on transcribing all of Hemingway’s letters, a painstaking process that gives fans and literary analysts a true glimpse into the life of a legendary novelist.

“The project has provided significant educational enrichment opportunities for more than three dozen undergraduate and a dozen graduate research assistants,” said Spanier. “Several graduate assistants have gone on to publish scholarly articles in American literary studies, and others have presented academic papers related to Hemingway at national and international conferences.

Well, at least one Spanier is doing good for themselves.

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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