Snows of Kilimanjaro

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Ernest Hemingway (1899—1961) American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist


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Story by Hemingway, published in Esquire (Aug. 1936) and collected in The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938).

Dying with “a great tiredness and anger” of blood poisoning from his gangrenous leg, the novelist Harry lies in camp on his African safari, accompanied by his wife and native attendants, waiting for a rescue plane that he knows will arrive too late, and remembers experiences that were to have served as subjects of stories when he knew enough to write them well. But he realizes too that he has destroyed his talent by sloth, by enjoyments such as the marriage with his rich wife could bring, and that he hates himself as he vents his cruelty on her. As he knows he will die that night, he tries to write, but vividly he feels and sees and smells death as he drops off, dreaming that the plane has come and taken him not to a hospital but to the very top of Kilimanjaro, said to be the highest mountain in Africa, where, according to the story's epigraph, close to the summit that is called the House of God “there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”

Subjects: Literature.

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