Performers take on the roles of two of American literary heavyweights in a literary duel on Friday Night at the Chicago Athletic Association.
Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald have always been mentioned side-by-side as two of the most well known American writers and for being at the forefront of the modernist movement and the Lost Generation of the 1920s.
Both writers have Chicagoland connections. Hemingway grew up in Oak Park and is where the Ernest Hemingway Foundation is currently located. The woman who was the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby” (and Fitzgerald’s first love) grew up in Lake Forest.
The two writers originally got along well together, but both were well-known for their heavy drinking and Hemingway’s distaste for Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda increased tensions and the two eventually grew apart.
While there is no documentation the two writers ever donned gloves in a ring against each other, another boxing match did contribute to the two writers falling out.
Another of Hemingway’s short-term friends was the Canadian writer Morley Callaghan. One evening, the two were fighting and Fitzgerald was meant to keep time, three minutes in the ring then one minute of rest.
Fitzgerald, intrigued by the bout, lost track of time and one round went to four minutes instead of three. He tried to apologize for this misstep, but this prompted Hemingway to retort, “If you want to see me getting the shit kicked out of me, just say so. Only don’t say you made a mistake.”
This story was regaled in Callaghan’s memoir “That Summer in Paris.” Callaghan blames both of the American writers for the reason he is known more as the man who boxed Hemingway than for being known for his his own writing merit.
Friday night’s event is a collaboration between the American Writers Museum and the Drinking and Writing Theater, with the two writers “performing their literary collaborations and clashes in the form of a verbal boxing match.”
The “fight” takes place on Hemingway’s birthday and is complimentary and open to the public. Head to the Drawing Room at the Chicago Athletic Association (12 S Michigan) for all the literary-dueling action.