Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden is sensual and complicated and about Hemingway. The mad girl, the wife of the writer-protagonist David creates puzzles with her words when she says things like, “I’m how you want but I’m how I want too and it isn’t as though it wasn’t for us both.” Of the published clippings he carries, the ones that will eventually destroy them, she says, “I’m frightened by them and all the things they say. How can we be us and have the things we have and do what we do and you be this that’s in the clippings?” The clippings changed him for her, the writing man was different from whom she thought the real man was. David is Hemingway when he thinks, “Be careful, he said to himself, it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.” Quentessential Hemingway.
The couple struggles on and on, too much work, too much love and too much hurt. Too much analysis destroys their love. He escaped into the simpleness of the complicated story he was writing, the one among others that she destroyed and in doing so destroyed him and them. “He was happy to be alone and to have finished his work for the day. Then the loneliness he always had after work started and he began to think about the girls and to miss them; not to miss the one nor the other at first, but to miss them both.” We see into the soul of Hemingway, his own life a struggle between wanting to live life fully and having the time to write, between wanting to be loved but not willing to love well enough. The reader is also entertained with a glimpse of Hemingway's writing life when David says, “There is nothing you can do except try to write it the way that it was. So you must write each day better than you possibly can and use the sorrow that you have now to make you know how the early sorrow came. And you must always remember the things you believed because if you know them they will be there in the writing and you won’t betray them. The writing is the only progress you make.”
David’s wife is cruel; did he marry her for her beauty, her money, surely not her soul? He looks for his stories and becomes “empty and dead in his heart” because “No one would do that to a fellow human being.” The heartless madwoman thought she owned this writer and could control what he produced, what he had to say. But the stories were part of him. “He found that he knew much more about his father than when he had first written this story and he knew he could measure his progress by the small things which made his father more tactile and to have more dimensions than he had in the story before. He was fortunate, just now, that his father was not a simple man. David wrote steadily and well and the sentences that he made before came back to him complete and entire and he put them down, corrected them and cut them as if he were going over a proof . . . he wrote on a while longer now and there was no sign that any of it would ever cease returning to him intact.” He was victorious. As was Hemingway.