HAVANA – The co-chair of the U.S.-based Finca Vigia Foundation lamented here Thursday that Washington’s economic embargo on Cuba hurts efforts to recover and preserve the legacy of American author Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) on the Caribbean island.
Jenny Phillips, granddaughter of Hemingway publisher Maxwell Perkins, told foreign correspondents here about her interest in new projects such as a plan to study and restore the author’s 9,000-book library at Finca Vigia, the home outside Havana where he lived for more than 20 years.
The sum of those efforts is limited somewhat by the embargo, Phillips said.
Despite that obstacle, she highlighted the joint projects on Hemingway’s legacy being undertaken with Cuban institutions in the face of “the very difficult political situation” between the two countries.
Jenny and husband Frank Phillips are participating in the 13th International Colloquium on Ernest Hemingway that began Thursday and which this year is commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death.
Organized by Havana’s Ernest Hemingway Museum, the event also will mark 50 years since Finca Vigia – where the author spent long periods of time from 1939 until shortly before he committed suicide in Idaho on July 2, 1961 – became the property of the Cuban government.
Jenny Phillips will give a speech at the colloquium to explain how she and her husband created the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation after visiting the home during a cultural trip to the Communist-ruled island in 2001.
That trip and her grandfather’s ties to the 1954 Nobel literature laureate sparked her desire to help preserve Hemingway’s legacy.
With the help of Democratic congressman James McGovern, the Phillips couple launched a project with Cuban institutions that culminated with an agreement to restore and digitize Hemingway’s documents at Finca Vigia.
That led in 2009 to digitized copies of more than 3,000 letters and manuscripts that Hemingway wrote in Cuba being delivered to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston. The originals remain at Finca Vigia, which has been turned into a museum.
The foundation plans to continue collaborating with Cuba on new projects, including a study of Hemingway’s library of 9,000 books at Finca Vigia, 20 percent of which, according to Jenny Phillips, contain handwritten comments by the author, such as notes for letters or ideas for book titles. EFE