If you are a bibliophile, and I am nothing if not that, one of great places to visit in New York City is the Morgan Library on Madison Avenue and 36th Street. It was built by banking magnate J.P. Morgan (1837-1913) who was also a book collector of vast resources. In this beautiful renaissance style library you may look upon Babylonian clay tablets, a Gutenberg Bible, or a Mozart manuscript, and more, much more. The Morgan (as it is called) also does superb book-related museum exhibits.
When I was there last week they were providing side-by-side exhibits of two writers who are as important as they were different: Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises). It’s hard to imagine two more contrasting people and/or writers. Both writers have been absolutely vital to my life, and as a reader and a writer.
Letters, manuscripts, rewrites, scribbles, notes, first editions, photographs, and a lot more from both, a fabulous feast for my literary taste.
What also came across is this: Every writer is different. Yet every writer, in essence works the same way; endlessly rewriting. Getting it right for the reader.To write well is always hard.
On display is a letter that Hemingway wrote. It reads, in part this way: “Writing well is impossibly difficult. The time to work is shorter all the time. And if you waste it, there is no forgiveness.”
That day in NYC, I also saw Pope Francis go by. Quite a day for heroes.[If you are not traveling to New York City any time soon, you can explore The Morgan on Google Art Project.]