To Have and Have Not
is a novel by the American writer Ernest Hemingway
which was published in 1937. It is not really a novel as such, but rather the amalgamation of two previously published short stories (One Trip Across
(1934) and The Tradesman's Return
(1936)) and a novella to round things off, all concerning the Key West
dwelling boat-owner and stereotypical Hemingway hero, Harry Morgan.
The book opens with Harry in Havana, mixing it with Cuban revolutionaries while enjoying the Caribbean life, hiring out his boat to tourists seeking pleasure and fish and telling us all about it in first-person narration. Events, dear boy, then occur which leads Harry to entertain certain riskier opportunities with more interest as he prepares to depart home to Key West.
After the conclusion of this escapade we jump to another voyage of Harry's. This time he has been somewhat incapacitated and so the narration moves into the third person. We learn the purpose of the voyage, the reason for its failure and leave Harry waiting for outside aid. Then we have another big jump, finding Harry back in Key West, reduced to hustling for his living, relying on his cojones and encountering a host more characters.
This is the meatier part of the novel, more character driven and reflective then the action driven short stories. Still due to this haphazard construction the story does not flow smoothly. The characters we are introduced are clearly there for compare and contrast purposes, simply illustrating the differences between those who have, and those who don't. This earth-shattering revelation informs the conclusion of the novel as Harry must face up to the consequences of his actions and risk taking.
So, this is clearly not one of Hemingway's greatest works. Howard Hawks certainly thought so. After failing to interest Hemingway in collaborating on a screenplay with him, Hawks proposed that instead he would make a film out of Hemingway's worst book, which was adjudged to be To Have and Have Not. Hemingway, perhaps after having witness the bowdlerised Gary Cooper/Ingrid Bergman offering of For Whom the Bell Tolls that Hollywood had already produced chose not to be involved with the project, so William Faulkner was hired to adapt the script.
Faulkner chose to remove just about everything from Hemingway's work, save the title and the character of Harry Morgan. But the movie Harry, played by Humphrey Bogart is far less callous and more conventionally heroic than in the book, and the new plot, in a way brazenly imitating Bogart's earlier Casablanca, seeks the backdrop of World War II. The staggeringly beautiful teenage Lauren Bacall, in her first big role played the leading lady, and her and Bogart would sizzle across the big screen.
The relationship between Bogart and Bacall also blossomed in real life, as Bogart sought refuge from a failing marriage with his co-star. The gossip generated by this real-life entanglement helped heap publicity onto the film and it was a big box office success. Nowadays the film is best remembered for the famous line from Bacall:-
"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow"