First published in the August, 1936, issue of Esquire, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” has been called Hemingway’s short story masterpiece. He wrote the story after his first safari to Africa and was so fascinated by the place that he told reporters he wanted to go back as soon as he had enough money. A wealthy woman read his remarks and offered to finance the trip for Hemingway, his wife Pauline, and herself. Hemingway turned her down, but he wondered what the trip would have been like if he had gone, and the story was born from that notion.
“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a combination of fact and fiction. Hemingway based the main character on, as he said, someone “who cannot sue me-that is me.” In the story, while facing his imminent death on an African safari, a writer goes in and out of consciousness. During his conscious moments, he argues with his wife and seems intent on destroying her. During unconscious or dream-like states, he remembers his life and has insights into why he made some of the choices he made. He has regrets, fears, and some wonderful memories of good times, as well. These memories are based on Hemingway’s own experiences and professional career.