Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hemingway: Life, Works and Critical Reception

Introduction
No study of Ernest Hemingway can be complete without an understanding of the author’s life because he is one of those authors whose lives and works are interdependent. In fact, there are three Hemingways : Hemingway the man, Hemingway the author, and Hemingway the legend. It is difficult to say where one ends and the other begins. The author has derived most of his raw material for his novels and short stories from his personal experiences and his books have influenced his life tremendously. Hemingway the author and Hemingway the man produced the legendary Hemingway.

He has been a colourful personality all through his life : a literary lion of the twenties, an ambulance driver in the First World War who was decorated for his bravery on the front, a deep-sea fisherman who won several trophies in fishing competitions, a boxer of no mean stature (and it is said that he could easily have become he heavy-weight world champion), a big-game hunter who spent months shooting wild animals in Africa, an excellent wing shot, a soldier of fortune during the Second World War who had a miniature army of his own, a Nobel Prize winner for literature, the boastful Papa, a brilliant columnist who covered major wars and conferences and interviewed people for important newspapers and journals in the United States and Canada. The list could go on almost indefinitely. In spite of his multifarious activities it is amazing how he did succeed in writing novels and short stories, which in their own right could have won a place for him among the most important people of the United States.
Early Years
Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 at Oak Park, Illinois, the middle-class capital of the world. His date of birth is sometimes erroneously given as 1898 because Hemingway, when he wanted to join the army during the First World War, was under-age and he gave a fictitious date to earn the right of entry into the army. He lived at Oak Park until 1917 when he graduated from the local high school. Fenton has traced from the Hemingway archives some interesting information about the early life of Ernest Hemingway. According to Fenton, Oak Park was dominated by Puritan values and it left on Hemingway a deep mark even though apparently he revolted against the Puritan ethic. His mother was Grace Hall before marriage and she was supposed to have immense musical talent. His father Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, M. D., was an outdoor man devoted to hunting and fishing. During his early childhood there seems to have existed a tussle between the father and the mother over the future of the boy. The mother wanted him to develop his musical talent while the father encouraged him to develop outdoor interests. The battle seems to have been definitely won by the father who gave him his first fishing rod when he was only three years old and he received his first shot-gun when he was only eleven.
Hemingway remarked once that the best training for a writer is an unhappy boyhood. This remark should be taken rather half-seriously because one cannot say with certainty that Hemingway was unhappy at home. He did feel the dominant influence of his mother and the indignity that his father must have suffered as a hen-pecked husband, but his father did manage to lead an amicable life at home because of his interest in outdoor life. Hemingway imbibed this interest from his father and remained an outdoor man throughout his life.
He was the second of the six children of the Hemingways, the eldest being a girl. The family spent their summers in Northern Michigan where Hemingway had ample opportunity to observe the native Indians from close quarters. His works bear a permanent stamp of this acquaintance with the raw life that he had seen in Northern Michigan.
The School Influences Hemingway
Oak Park was not yet corrupted by the life at Chicago. There was neither extreme poverty nor affluence. The centre of social life, even for the most sophisticated, was the school and the family church. The standard of education at Oak Park high school was very high. With the main emphasis on the liberal arts it was natural that English occupied an important place in the school curriculum. Hemingway received his grounding in the Bible and the English classics at school. As indicated earlier Hemingway was never a book-worm for lie took active interest in school athletics and football. During his last two years at school Hemingway started writing in the school magazine. Two of his teachers, Miss Dixons and Miss Fannie Biggs encouraged him to write stories and essays with emphasis on originality. This early training at school, which initially was in the imitation of Ring Lardner, stood him in good stead for he succeeded in getting the job of a cub reporter on The Star. In ‘his imitation of Ring Lardner, Hemingway adopted poker­faced, first person mode of presentation. The style was chatty and -centred round local interests. Earl Rovit comments : “There is a strong smell in the mordant and sardonic attitudes of the two ‘writers (Hemingway and Lardner) as well as a common penchant for adopting a mask which will conceal the bitter, shocked responses of the authors to the cruelty and injustice of life.”
During his school days Hemingway ran away from home twice but these escapades were too brief to hamper his life at school. As a matter of fact, these episodes were “little more than the rebellious independence of a restless boy.” His brother Leicester Hemingway says that Ernest sent postcards while he was away from home, implying thereby that the escapades took place with the connivance of the parents. His first story “Judgement of Manitou” reveals his keen interest in rich detail, nature and environment.
As Cub Reporter in Kansas City
When Hemingway left school in 1917 he was restless because he could not sit still at home while the fate of Man was being decided in the war-theatre of Europe. He wanted to enlist but the doctor said that he was too young. From another account we learn that he was rejected because of an injured eye. His uncle Tyler Hemingway took him to Kansas where he became a cub reporter for The Star at 6$ a month. The Star style-sheet taught him : “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.” It also disallowed the use of slang for “slang to be ‘enjoyable must be fresh.” The Star asked for authenticity, precision and immediacy. Hemingway worked there for seven months––his first period of apprenticeship was over. For Hemingway journalism was never an end in itself. It was an expedient because even at this stage he was intent on creative writing. Commenting on this period Hemingway says : “There were good men there in the top spots, as good as there were in the business and_ after the paper went to press and things slacked off you could go and talk to almost anybody ; you could dream dreams and talk about the novels that you were going to write some day.”
Ambulance Driver in World War I
In early 1918 there came an opportunity Hemingway had been waiting for. Red Cross needed voluntary ambulance drivers to serve with the Italian Army. He cabled his application and on 12th May, 1918 he was enlisted as an Honorary Lieutenant. Fenton observes “From Kansas City Hemingway took with him not only the lessons he had learnt about writing but also a trained reporter’s eye which would enable him to profit considerably more from his Italian experiences than if, for example, he had been able to enlist directly from high school the previous June.”
Initially it was a humanitarian impulse that had motivated American participation in the First World War but this idealism had soon turned to scepticism. The enthusiastic volunteers, like Hemingway, were shocked to see human suffering on such a large scale. In dark nights they drove ambulances, under shelling, which had long before dawn turned hearses.
Hemingway is Wounded
Hemingway received his first baptism of fire in Paris and later in Milan where an ammunition dump exploded. In his own words : “I remember that after we had searched quite thoroughly for the complete dead we collected fragments... Many fragments we found a considerable distance away in the field, they being carried farther by their own weight.” When the Italians launched an offensive all along the Piave, Hemingway had persuaded his local commanders to allow him to go to the trenches. He had achieved his ambition : he was in the war. He saw people in a crisis and learnt about human nature at its best and at its worst. On 8th July near Fossalta di Piave, a tiny village, he was hit by the exploding fragments of a trench mortar––a type of bombs that used to be called ash cans. “An Italian standing between him and the explosion was killed instantly, a second, standing a few feet away, had both legs blown off. A third soldier, another of those who had been waiting for chocolate, was badly wounded.” Hemingway who also was hurt badly picked up one of his comrades and carried him to a first-aid dugout. On the way he was hit by machine-gun fire and his knee and ankle were badly hit. For some time he was given up for dead but later he recovered. The doctors later took out as many as 237 pieces of metal from his legs. Some of them inched their way out in his fifties.
Hemingway Wins a Medal
Hemingway told his friend Guy Hicovk : “I died then. I felt my soul or something coming right out of my body like you’d pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by one corner. It flew around and then came back and went in again and I wasn’t dead any more.” As a result of this brave action he was awarded the Croce de Guerra with three citations and the Medaglia d’ Argento al Valore Militare, the second highest Italian military decoration. As a result of his war experiences and the wound, Hemingway enjoyed a respectable standing among professional soldiers. This near-death experience gave him an insight into human suffering, and it was a valuable asset to him as an artist. “I wouldn’t really be comfortable now, unless. I had some pain.” As a result of this experience he was afraid to sleep in the dark ; he was afraid that his soul would go out and never return. Perhaps he set out to prove to the world that he was not scared. Therefore most of his novels are concerned with violence or death or war and the heroes’ reaction to these demanding situations. Although he was given his discharge papers on 4th January, 1919 yet he did not give up his hunger for action. It might be said that it got mingled with his blood.
Hemingway Falls in Love
From the Italian war experiences he brought with him another scar which cut deeper into his soul than the ones suffered at Fossalta. It was a love affair with an American nurse Agnes H. von Kurowski. It was a case of calf love but the nurse had promised to marry him on his return to the States. She was much older than Hemingway and perhaps in her sober moments she must have realised that Hemingway was too young for her. He had returned to the States to be able to earn some money and then marry Agnes. She, however, wrote to him that she had changed her mind and was getting married to a Major. As. en matter of fact this marriage did not take place at all. Hemingway’s manhood received a severe shock and this partially might account for his dissatisfaction with a large number of women including his four wives.
His Second Spell as a Reporter
On his return to the States, Hemingway could not settle down ‘to a humdrum existence at Oak Park. He had made up his mind to be a writer but whenever he wrote in Michigan would not sell. So, he once again took to journalism as an expedient so that he could devote his spare time to writing novels. Ralph Counable, a friend of Dr. Hemingway, finding Ernest at en loose end offered him an opening. He would be en tutor to Counable’s son and if Ernest preferred he could get him a job on a local newspaper in Toronto, Canada. In 1920 he became associated with the Daily Star and the Star Weekly and with this assignment which lasted for a number of years began Hemingway’s next stage of apprenticeship. The Toronto Star taught Hemingway to look for hum-in-interest and interesting material in the events of the world. While he wrote humorous sketches and stories his “style and attitude m u ed.” He experimented with burlesque, mimicry, satire and irony––qualities which are reflected in his later work. As Hemingway had tasted blood early in life, crime and violence came to occupy an important place in his writings. His “fidelity to realism, authenticity and immediacy” could never be doubted because he firmly believed that a writer must be able to see, feel, smell and hear what he was writing about.
Hemingway Marries Hadley Richardson : First Marriage
In 1920 Hemingway moved to Chicago with the confidence that he could write. In Chicago, to begin with, he was without a job or money and necessity comp.-lied him to accept the editorship of Cooperative Commonwealth, a journal of the Cooperative Society of America which went into liquidation of 1922 because of certain dishonest transactions. In this period Hemingway wrote competently but he was losing his grip on his imagination. During his stay in Chicago he met Hadley Richardson, a family friend of the Smiths with whom Hemingway was staying. This meeting flowered into love and resulted in their marriage in September 1921. Soon after his marriage he was off to Europe to become a roving correspondent for The Star with headquarters in Paris. The terms were most generous and the arrangement was ideal from Hemingway’s angle.
Hemingway in Paris
In Paris, Hemingway came under the powerful and formative influence of Gertrude Stein and her vast circle of men of letters. “The method [that Hemingway learnt from Miss Stein] ... revolved principally around the arrangement and exploitation of specific kind of areas to represent and emphasise a desired effect.” Later when. he became famous he told a young writer : “Remember what the noises were, and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion ; what the reaction was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down.” He was, of course, echoing Gertrude Stein but he went beyond her. He had enriched hen method by bringing to it virility and a vast training. The years in journalism were not spent in vain. Never did he let an ambiguous or vague line go to the press. The famous declarative sentences which are characteristically Hemingway’s could only be written when he knew what he was writing about. Continuing his advice to the young writer he explained : “As a man you knew who is right and who is wrong. You have to make decisions and enforce them. As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.” It meant, in other words, that the writer should know what is passing through the minds of his character and, he should know how to express it without scruples or squean ishness. It was Miss Stein who specifically declared that Hemingway should stop being a newspaperman.
Additional War Experiences
He travelled extensively in Europe, covered a few important conferences for The Star, wrote a few short stories, but all the time he was learning his art which was steadily attaining maturity. No sooner had he contemplated the idea of devoting himself seriously to creative writing than he was directed to proceed to Constantinople, (for The Star) because the Greek Army had been routed by the Turks and perhaps the world stood on the brink of a major wan. As Hemingway was excited at the prospect of seeing war from close quarters he welcomed the assignment. He reached Constantinople on 30th September, 1922. His dispatches revealed an adult quality of his war experiences––perception, imagination, poise and popular interest. He touched upon practically all aspects of the war––from political manoeuvres to the dramatis personae and the affected cities and their people thus making the whole experience round, solid and life-like. His earlier war experience was enriched in the course of this assignment. His realistic portraiture of war in A Farewell to Arms stems more from this experience than from his Italian experience. His humanitarian zeal which had earlier incited him to join the Red Cross was rekindled and he was forced to reconsider the question whether he should try to do something to alleviate the sufferings of the war victims or be a writer. His earlier chaotic war experience achieved significance with his second encounter with war. Later he covered the Lausanne Conference for the settlement of Greco-Turk affair.
William Blitho Instructs Hemingway
At Lausanne he came in contact with William Blitho Ryall––betten known as William Blitho––who gave Hemingway his formal instruction in political reality. It was Blitho again who reminded Hemingway that journalism was at best a means and if he stayed on for too long in that line he would be no good for writing. He inspired confidence in his pupil Hemingway that the latter could write and writing from inside knowledge would have depth and permanence.
The Ruhr Assignment
After the Lausanne assignment, John Bone, the editor of the Toronto Star gave him a still more challenging assignment : to write articles on the French occupation of the Ruhr valley and Hemingway made it a sound piece of political reporting. Hemingway exposed the failure of the First World War and the insincere treaties that followed. At the age of twenty-three he displayed a maturity far beyond his years while still retaining his youthful freshness. The articles that he wrote in Germany were as competent as any he had written before but they had a new dimension in them––their creativity––and Hemingway sustained that quality throughout. The gnawing necessity of doing journalistic work was relieved by the Ruhr assignment ; so the journalist-turned-writer had more freedom to devote his time to his creative writing. In August 1923 his first major work, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published.
Hemingway Returns to Toronto
When Hemingway returned to Toronto in September 1923 he was compelled to manufacture feature material for the Star Weekly. This return to Toronto was a brief break in his creative career which had begun in Europe. The artistic flame that had been kindled in Europe made journalistic work look pale and lifeless. Herry C. Hindmarsh, the Assistant Managing Editor of the Daily Star made Hemingway feel small by his rude behaviour and stupid demands. Meanwhile Hadley gave birth to his first son. His return to America, as a matter of fact, had been necessitated by the pregnancy of his wife and when the child was born Hemingway was free to return to the Continent, The oppressing city atmosphere, the tight schedule set by the paper and the treatment of the Assistant Managing Editor finally made him make up his mind and he left for Europe in December 1823.
Hemingway Returns to Paris : Second Marriage
In A Moveable Feast he describes how Pauline Pfeiffer set out to marry Hemingway after destroying his first marriage with Hadley. Pauline was a dark-haired fashion writer who worked in the Paris office of Vogue. She was a Roman Catholic and came of a very rich family. In 1927 the first marriage came to an end and in 1928 Hemingway returned to the States with his second wife Pauline and settled in Key West, Florida, where he stayed until 1938. During his stay in Paris he brought out In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises. In Our Time was later published in the United States in 1925 and his second book The Torrents of Spring was rejected by his first publisher because it parodied their popular author, the author of Winesburg Ohio, Sherwood Anderson, and then he took his The Sun Also Rises to Scribner’s who published all his subsequent books.
Hemingway Becomes Famous
With the publication of The Sun Also Rises Hemingway’s literary reputation became established once for all. The book became a popular best seller and it gave to the American expatriates an attitude, a way of life and a code in a society whose cherished nineteenth-century values had been demolished by the war. He became the spokesman of the “lost generation”. From 1923 to 1938 that he stayed at Key West his reputation as a sportsman, big-game hunter, and fisherman grew and he became a world celebrity with the publication of A Farewell to Arms in 1929. In 1929 he got his first giant marlin weighing 468 lbs. He wrote a book on bull-fighting called Death in the Afternoon. The book is the most authentic account of the sport of bull-fighting, bull-rearing, the famous matadors of the period and scattered throughout the book are Hemingway’s comments on aesthetics, life and death. In 1934 he took a trip to Africa and the result was besides a few game trophies, Green Hills of Africa. In 1935 he went to Bimini for fishing and in 1936 he returned again to Bimini when the Civil War in Spain broke out.
Hemingway Reports on the Spanish Civil War
The Civil War in Spain was fought between the Fascists and the Loyalists (those who were loyal to the Republic). Almost all the intellectuals of the world with left leanings joined the Spanish Civil ‘War and fought for the Loyalists. It was a question of letting Spain turn Fascist or saving Spain for Democracy. Hemingway who had known Spain intimately and loved that country could not sit still. He decided to join the Republicans (Loyalists) and on his personal promissory notes collected 40,000 $ for buying ambulances for the Republicans. Great Britain and America refused to interfere in the Spanish affair and because of this neutrality they eventually let the Fascists conquer the whole of Spain ; and, in fact, set the stage for the Second World War. But it was still to come.
Hemingway Ends His “Separate Peace”
Hemingway went to Spain a number of times as war correspondent and covered the Spanish Civil War for the NANA (North Atlantic Newspapers Alliance). The two important works to come out of Hemingway’s venture in Spain are The Fifth Column and For Whom the Bell Tolls. His social, consciousness was deeply aroused and he championed the cause of the proletariate in To Have and Have Not.
Hemingway’s Third Marriage
In Spain he met Martha Gellhorn who was also covering the Civil War for the Collier’s Magazine. Hemingway and Martha braved the danger of covering the various battle fronts together. Martha had interviewed Hemingway in Key West earlier and now she became Hemingway’s pupil. The pupil and the tutor were attracted towards each other and the inevitable happened : they fell in love. In his personal ethics Hemingway was always a puritan and he never played the game of cocktail-party flirtation. His relations with Pauline Pfeiffer naturally cooled off and when Pauline realised this she went to Paris and brought Hemingway back to the States but Hemingway had perhaps gone too far with Martha Gellhorn. When he returned to Spain, Martha and Hemingway were drawn together once again. Even when he returned to America after knowing that the Republican cause was lost once for all he could not re-establish the relationship with Pauline Pfeiffer. In fact, he bore a grudge against Pauline for having destroyed his first marriage with Hadley. This resulted inevitably in divorce on the grounds of desertion and Hemingway went to Cuba to finish For Whom the Bell Tolls. In My Brother Ernest Hemingway Leicester Hemingway observes : “Ernest was carrying a heavy load of misery when he returned to Key West. He was having difficulty with his own personal code, of ethics. He had finally decided that he needed to make a clean break with Pauline and with the Catholic Church. Neither move would bean easy one. As Ernest once said : ‘Once you’ve really loved someone, you never stop……completely’.” Hemingway went to Havana in Cuba in May 1938 to write For Whom the Bell Tolls. Martha joined him there. To quote Leicester Hemingway once again : “Martha had real brains, beauty and the body of a Circe. I was delighted that she was about to become my favourite third sister-in-law, though, I gave full honours to the first two.” Pauline’s divorce became final in November 1940 and two, weeks later Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn were married in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
On Hemingway’s personal ethics Malcolm Cowley comments:
                He is a romantic by nature and he falls in love like a big hemlock tree crushing down through the underbrush ; also he has a puritanical streak that keeps him away from being a cocktail party flirt. When he falls in love he wants to get married, and stay married and he regards end of marriage as a personal defeat.
(From Life)
Hemingway Hunts Nazi U-boats
The Second World War had already started in 1939 and as Hemingway’s quest for adventure was never fully satisfied he offered to utilise his forty-foot cabin cruiser the Pilar against the Nazi U-boat in the Pacific off the coast of Cuba. From 1942 to 1944 the fishing boat, Pilar, performed useful espionage activity for the Americans. It was equipped with most sophisticated electronic equipment and weapons of destruction. Even though no contact was made with the U-boats, it is reported that Hemingway spotted a few German U-boats and passed on information to the naval authorities who succeeded in destroying them. For this useful service Hemingway was given a Bronze medal. In Leicester Hemingway’s words the letter of appreciation stated “that the bearer, Ernest Hemingway, had over a lengthy period of time, performed hazardous and valuable operations in the prosecution of the sea war against Nazi Germany that were of a highly confidential nature.” This experience has been covered in Hemingway’s posthumous novel Islands in the Stream. The hero, Thomas Hudson, reflects a facet of Hemingway’s personality. Hudson, a frustrated man––dies in the end, but finds consolation in the fact that he has served his country well.
Service By Air
In the Spring of 1944 Hemingway flew with the Royal Air Force to England and was accredited as a correspondent with the Royal Air Force. He flew on several minions with the Royal Air Force to spot the flying bombs launching sites, and to destroy them. This experience Hemingway has utilized in another novel whose theme would be “service by air.” The novel has not been published so far. Shortly before the invasion of France, Hemingway was involved in an automobile accident which necessitated 57 stitches in his head. So great was his enthusiasm for the war that he pulled out the stitches on D-Day and after the breakthrough in Normandy, Hemingway attached himself to the Third Army, the Second Regiment. Later he attached himself to the Division of his own choice, the Fourth of the First Army with which he saw considerable action.
Service By Land
He had in the meanwhile acquired a German soldier’s belt with the inscription Gott-mit Uns––God Save Us. He had built up a small army of irregular French guerrillas and he carried with him every imaginable weapon of German or American origin. A guerilla once asked him : “How is it that a man so old and wise as you bearing the scars of honourable service is still a Captain?” Hemingway replied : “Youngman, the reason is simple and it is a painful one. I never learnt to read and write.” His jeep was known throughout the French and the American Forces and wherever it went it was given a royal reception. Hemingway in his official capacity as a correspondent was not supposed to carry weapons but he carried as many grenades, pistols, machine-guns as he could manage. The amount of liquor that he carried and consumed would drive any man insane. His nick names were Ernie ; Kraut Hunter, Old Dr. Hemingstein, Ernie Hemorrhoid, Papa or Pop etc., etc. He is said to have liberated the Ritz Hotel in Paris even before the French forces had entered the city. During the invasion of France he was 60 miles in front of anything in the First Army. He was charge-sheeted for having violated the Geneva Convention but evidence was fabricated to clear him of all charges and he was decorated by the American authorities. In fact, the Commandant of the First Army said that Hemingway was an ideal correspondent because he could sniff information and pass it on to the regular army. In 1945 when the fate of the War was more or less decided Hemingway returned to the States.
Hemingway Marries Mary Walsh : Fourth Marriage
During the war his relations with Martha Gellhorn deteriorated because she was extremely ambitious and Hemingway had a deep-rooted suspicion of ambitious, careering women. When he fell ill in Paris, Leicester tried to persuade Martha Gellhorn to attend on Hemingway but she had certain grudges against him and she did not go to see him. In Paris he was attended upon by Mary Walsh who eventually became his fourth wife.
Papa Visits Africa Again
With the return to Cuba, Hemingway decided to work on the material that he had collected during the war. His non-literary activities had occupied so much of his time that people thought that Hemingway as a literary writer was a ‘spent-up force’. The years from 1948 to 1961 when Hemingway committed suicide come to life in Papa Hemingway by A. E. Hotchner. The book is highly sensational in its contents and one cannot be sure of the authenticity of the facts described but it is extremely readable and the author has succeeded in giving us an account of Hemingway, the man. He travelled extensively in these years in Spain, France, Italy, Africa but his literary activities were confined to Across the River and Into the Trees, The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast, all published in book form and some newspaper writing, specially the Dangerous Summer which was brought out by Life. During the course of his tour to Africa he met with two air crashes in the course of two days and his obituaries were published in all the leading papers of the world. He read them with relish on his return to Nairobi where he could get some medical assistance. He had taken his fourth wife Mary Hemingway to Africa to show her all the good places he had known, but he had to cut this trip short because of the accidents. Mary was hurt badly and Hemingway had his spine jammed. His eyesight was poor for some time and he complained of injured kidneys throughout the rest of his life. On his accidents Philip Young comments : “His skull was fractured at least once : he sustained at least a dozen brain concussions,, several of them serious ones ; he was in three bad automobile accidents and a few years ago in the African jungle he was in two aeroplane accidents in the space of two days, during which he suffered several internal injuries, ‘jammed’ his spine, and received a concussion so violent that his eyesight was impaired for some time. In warfare alone lie was shot through nine parts of the body, and sustained six head wounds.”
The Agony of the Last Years
Commenting on this period Hotchner remarks that Hemingway once said to him : “Although I move about as carefully as possible it is like living in a Kafka nightmare. I act cheerful like always but am not. I am bone-tired and very beat up emotionally.” With the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba when the Americans were being asked to leave Cuba, Hemingway realised that he would have to leave his favourite house near Havana and all that valuable treasures that he had gathered there. “I know I must leave it all and go. But how can you measure that loss ? Everything I have is here. My pictures, my books, my good work place and my memories.” Hemingway did succeed in saving some of his life treasures from his house near Havana but the loss was perhaps too much for him to bear. His novel Across the River and into the Trees was harshly treated by critics though not unjustly and Hemingway took this to heart. He, in this period, started complaining of persecution by the Federal agents, though it had no foundation whatsoever. In this period he was completely obsessed with the idea of death and how to meet it. According to Hotchner’s account Hemingway became obsessed with money and he asked exhorbitant prices for his stories and novels. With the publication of The Old Man and the Sea which was acclaimed as a masterpiece all over the world he did retrieve his reputation a little but it seems that he was finding it more difficult to write.
Hemingway Receives Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize which came in 1954 raised his spirits for some time but the gathering gloom seemed to have crushed him. He was admitted to Mayo Clinic twice where he received electric shocks for psychological troubles. He developed a double personality––in the presence of doctors he would behave like a normal being but as soon as he was alone all the old troubles would come back. He thought that the doctors were ruining his memory which is a creative writer’s capital. The tragedy of his last days is potentially brought out in his own words: “What do you think happens to a man going on sixty two when he realises that he cannot write the stories and books he promised himself ? Or do any of the other things he promised himself in the good days.”
Hemingway Shoots Himself
He wanted to exist on his own terms and only in these terms was existence possible to him. It was not important for him whether he wrote a single word or not but what he did want was the confidence within him that he could write. When people suggested to him that he should retire he commented : “How the hell can a writer retire ? DiMaggio put his records in the book, and so did Tad Williams, and then on a particular day, with good days getting rare they hung up their shoes. So did Marciono. That is the way a champ should go out. Like Antonio. A champion cannot retire like any one else.” As a writer could not retire, according to Hemingway, he was always faced with the question : “What are you working on now ?” He had been an outdoor man all his life, and life to him had meant friends, liquor, women, sports and when these things became rare or were denied to him he lost his zest for life. On July 2nd, 1961 Hemingway shot himself to death and thus came the end of a most colourful and versatile personality of our time.

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