Adriana Ivancich

Adriana Ivancich

Birth
Venice, Città Metropolitana di Venezia, Veneto, Italy
Death 24 Mar 1983 (aged 53)
Orbetello, Provincia di Grosseto, Toscana, Italy
Burial Porto Ercole, Provincia di Grosseto, Toscana, Italy
Memorial ID 116332641 · View Source
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Literary Folk Figure. A pretty girl with a modicum of writing and artistic talent, she is remembered for her May-December romance with Ernest Hemingway, and the literary immortality he conferred upon her. The child of Venetian nobility, she met Hemingway on December 11, 1948 via her brother Gianfranco during the great writer's duck hunting trip to Northern Italy. While Adriana's initial feelings apparently stopped at respect, Papa was smitten; over the next months, sometimes in the company of his wife Mary but often not, he encouraged her in her ambitions by giving her a typewriter and a Roliflex camera, traveled with her to Cortina, and took her to such night spots as the Hotel Gritti and the famous Harry's Bar. When the Hemingways returned to America in April of 1949 a correspondence ensued while Papa, obviously with Adriana stuck in his consciousness, worked on the manuscript of "Across the River and Into the Trees". When Ernest and Mary visited Italy in January 1950, Adriana was again to be his frequent companion in both Venice and Paris. In September of 1950 "Across the River and Into the Trees", for which Adriana did the cover art, was published to the worst reviews Hemingway ever received; taking the title from the last words of General Stonewall Jackson, Papa had cast himself, as well as his friend Colonel Buck Lanham, as the book's terminally ill protagonist, Colonel Richard Cantwell. The World War II history and the depictions of Venice were accurate and the identification of Adriana as Renata, down to the physical description, was blatant. To spare the girl some embarrassment, Papa decreed that the book never see the silver screen and not be published in Italy for two years; in the event, it was not marketed there until 1965. Further, the portrayals of some of the war's Generals and of Hemingway's third wife Martha Gellhorn were devistating, leading to many hurt feelings and resentments. Hemingway knew that he had not written his best work and in letters to Adriana he vowed to do better the next time as he prepared for the visit of her and her mother Dora to Havana. How Mary ever tolerated Ernest Hemingway, God only knows; though he needed her constant support as his health declined, and while it was acknowledged that he could not financially afford another divorce, he was rude, ill tempered, frequently drunk, and verbally abusive to an appalling degree, his pet names for her including garbage woman, bitch, whore, and moron. And yet Mary welcomed into her home, the Finca Vigia, the young girl on whom her husband had an open crush. When mother and daughter arrived by ship in October 1950, Papa met them on his boat "Pilar". The Hemingways hosted a number of dinners in their visitors' honor and Ernest spent time with Adriana alone and in public, taking her fishing, to the Cerro Hunt Club, and to the Floridita. Naturally, there were displays of boorish behavior, on one occasion Adriana coming to Mary's defense when Papa threw wine in her face. Hemingway started work on "The Old Man and the Sea" while his guests were in Cuba and continued after they returned to Italy in February 1951; when the short volume was released in 1952, again with cover art by Adriana, the acclaim was universal, with critics hailing it as a book for the ages. In 1953 Adriana released a volume of her own, a poetry collection entitled "I Looked at the Sky and Earth" and in the spring of 1954 saw Hemingway for the last time when he spent March thru May in Italy recovering from the effects of two plane crashes, their final meeting taking place at Nervi, near Genoa. The letters continued for a time, with Adriana's last missive to Papa dated April 6, 1955 and his to her written on September 21st of that year. Though her brother Gianfranco remained Papa's friend and even attended his 1961 funeral, apparently there was no further contact between the star-crossed pair. Adriana was briefly married to Dimitri Monas and in 1963 wed noted German businessman Rudolf von Rex, whom she bore two sons. When "Across the River and Into the Trees" finally hit Italy, she penned an article for "Epoca" magazine in which she declared "I am Hemingway's Renata", this in sharp contrast to Agnes von Kurowsky's denial until her final years of having been Catherine Barkley in "A Farewell to Arms". In 1966 she sold for $17,000, via auction at Christie's, her surviving letters from Hemingway, this despite provisions of the author's 1958 will that any letters to or from him never be made public. In 1980 Adriana published a memoir entitled "La Torre Bianca" ("The White Tower") after the tower at the Finca Vigia. While the work, which can never be released in the United States due to copyright laws and Papa's will, certainly mentions Hemingway, it is all about Adriana, her talent for self magnification just as obvious as her identity as Renata. Suffering from depression, Adriana hanged herself from a tree in her yard, an ironic end given her association with a man who killed himself, as did his father, a brother, a sister, his third wife, though Martha was old, blind, and terminally ill, and a granddaughter. At this distance in time we may speculate on the nature of the relationship between the writer and the pretty young girl; in his youth, Hemingway preferred girls older than himself, with Agnes seven years his senior, Hadley eight, and Pauline four, while Adriana is but the most prominent example of a later attraction to younger girls, the names of photographer Inge Schonthal and writer Valerie Danby-Smith coming to mind in this regard. Physically, it probably never went beyond a few kisses, and given his drinking, heart disease, and diabetes, that is about all Hemingway was capable of at that point anyway. Certainly, Papa was head-over-heels emotionally, and while he even proposed to Adriana there is plenty of reasonable doubt whether he would have ever had little enough sense to give up Mary. As for Adriana, it may have never gone beyond friendship and star-worship, as Papa was no longer the man he had once been. Today, 69 of the letters exchanged between Ernest and Adriana survive in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston and at the University of Texas, though gaps in the dates lead one to conclude that there were almost certainly more. Her story is told in each of the various Hemingway biographies and in Bernice Kert's 1983 "The Hemingway Women". In the person of Renata, she lives on in every bookstore and library on Earth, as modern critics have declared that "Across the River and Into the Trees" is not as bad as the original reports and that, in any event, Ernest Hemingway's worst book is far superior to all but few author's best. Giving evidence of her knack for self promotion, she once said of her relationship with a legend: "What happened when we met is a little more than a romance. I broke down his defenses; he stopped drinking when I asked him to. I'm proud to say that I led him to write "The Old Man and the Sea"".

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 31 Aug 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 116332641
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Adriana Ivancich (4 Jan 1930–24 Mar 1983), Find A Grave Memorial no. 116332641, citing Cimitero di Porto Ercole, Porto Ercole, Provincia di Grosseto, Toscana, Italy ; Maintained by Find A Grave .