Ernest Hemingway, Clutterbug

“Like his father, he saved every totem that touched his hand.”

“Hemingway was someone who felt the talismanic power of objects, of things, of the materiality of experience,” Declan Kiely, who is a young and genial Englishman with Irish roots, said when I visited “Between Two Wars.” “If something happened to him, he hung onto it.”

The Morgan Library has an exhibit of the better finds among the neat piles of stuff Hemingway hung onto. Barry Yourgrau takes a look.

“Was he a pack rat?” Susan Wrynn, the then curator of the Hemingway Collection, asked herself in the New York Times, after the materials were made available. “Absolutely, absolutely.” Indeed, Hemingway’s clutter was noted as far back as 1958, when George Plimpton visited the Finca for a Paris Review interview. According to Plimpton, the bedroom where Hemingway wrote “The Old Man and the Sea,” standing up at his work desk in “a square foot of cramped area,” was a hive of clutter, clean but enormously crowded. The room suggested “an owner who is basically neat but cannot bear to throw anything away—especially if sentimental value is attached.” Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, once declared that he couldn’t toss “anything but magazine wrappers and three-year-old newspapers.”