Hemingway and Cole Porter

At the time Hemingway lived in Paris (the early twenties of the last century) a lot of other artists also did. In those days Paris was the center of the artistic world and some of the people that Hemingway shared the city with were Pablo Picasso, Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Man Ray, T.S. Eliot and also the musicians Josephine Baker and Cole Porter.

Now Paris is a metropolis that is home to millions of people and even back in the day it was already huge, so the chance of just running into someone would have been small. Fortunately for us, the artists of Paris Jazz Age liked to meet each other, go to the same parties and cafes and sometimes even work together (like Dali and Bunuel). Still, there is no evidence or recorded events that tells us that Hemingway and Cole Porter knew each other or even met.

Cole Porter
Cole Porter

If any music or musical artist represents the Jazz Age and Paris during that time it must be Cole Porter and his music. And there is proof Hemingway was – at least – aware of this, because he quotes from Porters “It is bad for me” in his story “The Snow of Kilimanjaro”

“Would you like some more broth?” the woman asked him now.

“No, thank you very much. It is awfully good.”

“Try just a little.”

“I would like a whiskey-soda.”

“It is not good for you.”

“No. It`s bad for me. Cole Porter wrote the words and the music. The knowledge that you`re going mad for me.”

Porter being – although not openly, he was married to an older woman – gay, might have had something to do with them not meeting. As we know Hemingway tried to maintain an image of tough and silent manliness – much alike many of his fictional characters – and maybe didn’t feel the need to meet. Hemingway`s views on homosexuality and homosexuals were, to say the least, backwards (in any case from a nowadays point of view). Proof of this we can find in his short story “The mother of a queen“.

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