The story of an exceptional witness of the twentieth century is released for Rizzoli on Tuesday 21 September. Not only Hemingway’s wife, she was one of the most famous war correspondents
Follow the war wherever it takes me. Martha Gellhorn was 29 when she left for Spain in 1937. Born in St. Louis, the daughter of a German-Jewish gynecologist and her adored mother Edna, she spent her youth between little interest in university and long trips to Europe. . He wants to go and see. He still does not know who and what he will become. And he does not even know that precisely there, in Madrid, in the rubble of the Civil War, he will have to compete – as well as with bombs – with another challenge. A love, that for Ernest Hemingway, which will leave her with the awareness of how different men are from women, especially when it comes to war, and how little it is bearable for the former that the latter are able to do the same job, often even better, without becoming the protagonists of the story.
To tell one of the greatest war correspondents, in a profound and intelligent essay, The war within, from Tuesday 21 September in bookstores for Rizzoli, another journalist who has known the front and who has made her journalistic career a lever for women’s rights. Lilli Gruber pays tribute to Martha Gellhorn, clearing the field of the stereotype of the woman capable of becoming great only for love. Because the war is out there but also inside. For many, including himself, Martha was just Hemingway’s wife – one of the wives – perhaps the only one who managed to love him while seeing his limits and without succumbing to his ego. But Gellhorn was much more, as Gruber recounts.
In a letter to her friend Eleanor Roosevelt calls marriage a brutalization. For her there can be no love without independence. I have to live my way, not just your way, or there would be no me to love you. You wouldn’t really like it, if I built a nice tall stone wall around the finca and sat down I would write to Ernest. And then Martha leaves. S.on the Finnish border during the Russian invasion (finding time for a dinner with Montanelli) and alongside the allied troops on the Italian front; and the first female reporter to land on the beaches of Normandy (even before Hemingway, his rival on the front). It’s still. the first to enter Dachau liberated by the Americans. A fervent anti-Nazi, he gets involved, gets passionate, rolls up his sleeves and helps the Italian nurses in Montecassino, giving them a voice, while none of his colleagues take care of them.
For Martha Gellhorn she tells the truth. From the rivalry with Hemingway he slips off, head held high, suffocating love so as not to be destroyed. After the Second World War, it is difficult to trust mankind – and of men in particular – difficult.
But it doesn’t stop. She goes to Vietnam, determined to expose the lies of the US propaganda. Up to El Salvador and Panama, where he will cover the invasion, at the age of eighty-one. He publishes five novels, fourteen long stories, two collections and three volumes of essays. A career crossed by glory and tragedy, marked by the loneliness of independent and counter-current women. But which leaves its readers hundreds of reports published by Collier’s, for which, with precision and rigor, it tells the war giving a voice to civilians, trapped in the conflict.
In the pages of The war within the voice of the American reporter is intertwined with that of Lilli Gruber who, putting herself in the background, despite the experience, asks other great correspondents to convey to the reader the sense of a work, beyond romanticism and stereotyping. Because if the road for war correspondents has always been uphill, it has been (and still is) for women all the more. I share Martha’s anger at the misogyny and idiocy of the military hierarchies of the time. It will take time, not just in the United States, for women to fight. Fortunately, progress in journalism will be faster. But undeniable that the sufficiency with which Martha was looked at by Hemingway and by the majority of male colleagues has long been the dominant attitude. In his footsteps, we had to fight for the right to go to the front line. The right to observe the world with our eyes and to describe it with our voice. Risking in war zones of being kidnapped, wounded and killed, just like men, writes Gruber.
But there is another side to the Gellhorn coin that Gruber highlights. And the desire and the need not to live a conventional existence and to allow oneself, as a lifeblood, the possibility of experiencing adventures that are closed to most people. Not rich but privileged and the daughter of an America made up of liberties and ideals at the time, Martha writes: it is the greatest of all follies and allows those who live it to throw away the entire paraphernalia of everyday life and behave like a fool. Does it mean to be crazy? I guess it depends on the values. And her madness, her determination and her restlessness that lead her to fifty different countries and to set up a home in five or six remote locations, including Africa, Wales and Cuernavaca in Mexico, to have several husbands, lovers and decide to adopt a child. Until the day when – now almost blind and 90 years old – she chooses the moment to leave by swallowing a pill of poison.
The legacy of Gellhorn above all for the one that the reporter leaves to those who still believe in this profession. D.i battle by battle, Martha’s life teaches the beauty and responsibility of journalism in a time that needs truth more than ever and that is increasingly martyred by the refrain that so much going on the field is no longer needed. Nothing could be more wrong, she would shout today too. Because Gellhorn’s work proves just the opposite, giving a profound teaching to those who feel the duty to tell the weakest: follow the war wherever it takes us
The war inside. Martha Gellhorn and the duty of truth by Lilli Gruber will be in bookstores from Tuesday 21 September for Rizzoli (pp. 288, euro 19). The volume tells the story of the American Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), one of the most famous war correspondents of the twentieth century.
Journalist and writer, Lilli Gruber has been conducting the in-depth broadcast since September 2008 Half past eight on La7. Among his books, published with Rizzoli, Witches (2008), Return to Berlin (2009), Prisoners of Islam (2016) and the trilogy composed by Inheritance (2012), Storm (2014) e Hoax (2018). With Solferino he published Enough! The power of women against testosterone politics, released in 2019
September 19, 2021 (change September 19, 2021 | 21:14)