Gellhorn on marriage (presumably to Ernest Hemingway):
“My own experience with said state was comparable to living in Sing-Sing, with a touch of the Iron Maiden on Nurnberg thrown in… . But you can’t tell, maybe I’ll get over that terror when I’m an old lady and marry some other dodderer and we will go happily together tomb-wards.”
Gellhorn was perhaps a badass at both pursuits (She demurs, “I daresay I was the worst bed partner in five continents.”), but definitely the former. A lifelong leftist, after she divorced Hemingway in 1945, she went on to cover wars in Vietnam, the Middle East, and Central America, penning nearly twenty books, and making her home in more than nineteen international locations before her death by self-inflicted overdose at the age of 89 in 1998.
One of those books is A Stricken Field, which fictionalizes a journalist’s return to Prague after its annexation (1938), in a narrative voice both frustrating and futile, as the main character struggles to assist its refugees and make sense of the once-proud democracy’s difficult plight under the Gestapo. Here, Gellhorn’s voice is both clear and forceful, more reliant on journalistic observation and political reflection than Hemingway’s staccato figures of speech, but still shaped by the years they overlapped as lovers and correspondents to war and second-wave modernism. In many ways A Stricken Field is a fine follow-up to Hemingway & Gellhorn, showcasing Gellhorn at the height of her powers, self-helming a fictionalization of her life as a correspondent under critical regime changes and conditions of duress.