Saturday, October 9, 2010

Life and Works of Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)


Born on July 21, 1899 in suburban Oak Park, IL to Dr. Clarence and Grace Hemingway, Ernest was the second of six children to be raise in the quiet suburban town by his physician father and devout, musical mother. Indeed, Hemingway’s childhood pursuits fostered the interests which would blossom into literary material.

Although Grace hoped her son would be influenced by her musical intersects, young Hemingway preferred accompanying his father on hunting and fishing trips; this love of outdoor adventure would later be reflected in many of Hemingway’s stories; particularly those featuring protagonist Nick Adams.
Hemingway’s aptitude for physical challenge remained with him through high school, where he both played football and boxed. Because of permanent eye damage contracted from numerous boxing matches, Hemingway was repeatedly rejected from service in World War I. Boxing provided more material for Hemingway’s stories, as well as a habit of likening his literary feats to boxing victories.
Hemingway also edited his high school newspaper and reported for the Kansas City Star, after adding a year to his age, after graduating from high school in 1917. After this short stint, Hemingway finally was able to participate in World War One, as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. He was wounded on July 8, 1918 on the Italian front near Fossalta di Piave; during this convalescence in Milan he had an affair with nurse Agnes von Kurowsky. Hemingway was given two decorations by the Italian government, and joined the Italian infantry. Fighting on the Italian front inspired the plot of A Farewell to Arms in 1929. Indeed, war itself is a major theme in Hemingway’s works. Hemingway would witness first hand the cruelty and stoicism required of soldiers he portrayed in his writing when covering the Greco-Turkish War in 1920 for the Toronto Star. In 1937 he was a war correspondent in Spain; the events of the Spanish Civil War inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Upon returning briefly to the United States after the World War, Hemingway, as well as working for the Toronto Star, lived for a short time in Chicago. There, he met Sherwood Anderson and married Hadley Richardson in 1921. On Andersen’s advice, the couple moved to Paris, where he served as foreign correspondent for the Star. As Hemingway covered events on all of Europe, the young reporter interviewed important leaders such s Lloyd George Clemenceau, and Mussolini.
The Hemingway lived in Paris from 1921-1926; this time of stylistic development for Hemingway reaches its zenith in 1923 with the publication of Three Stories and Ten Poems by Robert Mcalmon in Paris and the birth of his son John. This time in Paris inspired the novel A Moveable Feast, published posthumously in 1964.
In Paris, Hemingway used Sherwood Anderson’s letter of introduction to meet Gertrude Stein and enter the world of ex-patriot authors and artists who inhabited her intellectual circle. The famous description of this “lost generation” was born of an employee’s remark to Hemingway, and became immortalized as the epigraph on his first major novel, The Sun Also Rises.
This “lost generation” both characterized the postwar generation and the literary movement it produced. In the 1920’s, writes such as Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein decried the false ideals of patriotism that led young people to war, only to the benefit of materialistic elders. These writer’s tenets that the only truth was reality, and thus life could be nothing but hardship, strongly influenced Hemingway.
The late 1920’s were a time of much publication for Hemingway. In 1926, The Torrents of Spring and The Sun Also Rises were published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1927 Hemingway published a short story collection, Men Without Women. So too, in that year he divorced Hadley Richardson and married Pauline Pfieffer, a write for Vogue. In 1928 they moved to Key West, where sons Patrick and Gregory were born, in 1929 and 1932. 1928 was a year of both success and sorrow for Hemingway; in this year, A Farewell to Arms published and his father committed suicide. Clarence Hemingway had been suffering from hypertension and diabetes. This painful experience is reflected in the pondering of Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In addition to personal experiences with war and death, Hemingway’s extensive travel in pursuit of hunting and other sports provided ample material for his novels. Bullfighting inspired Death in the Afternoon, published in 1932. In 1934, Hemingway went to safari in Africa, which gave him new themes and scenes on which to base The Snows of Kilamanjaro and The Green Hills of Africa, published in 1935. As before mentioned, he traveled to Spain as a war correspondent in 1937, the same year as To Have and Have Not. After his divorce from Pauline in 1940, Hemingway married Martha Gelhorn, a writer; the couple toured China before settling in Cuba at Finca Vigia, or look-out farm. For Whom the Bell Tolls was published this year.
During World War Two Hemingway volunteered his fishing boat and served with the U.S. Navy as a submarine spotter in the Caribbean. In 1944, he traveled through Europe with the Allies as war correspondent and participated in the liberation of Paris.
Hemingway divorced again in 1945, and married Marry Welsh, a correspondent for Time magazine, in 1946. They lived in Venice before returning to Cuba.
In 1950 Across the River and Into the Trees was published; it was not received with the usual critical acclaim. In 1952, however, Hemingway proved the comment “Papa is finished” wrong, as The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In 1960, the now aged Hemingway moved to Ketchum, Idaho, where he was hospitalized for uncontrolled high blood pressure, liver disease, diabetes, and depression.
On July, 2, 1961, he died of self-inflected gunshot wounds and was buried in Ketchum. “Papa” was both a legendary celebrity and a sensitive writer, and his influence, as well as unseen writings, survived his passing. In 1964 A Moveable Feast was published; in 1969, The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War, in 1970, Islands in the Steam published; ion 1972, The Nick Adams Stories; in 1985, The Dangerous Summer; and in 1986 The Garden of Eden were published.
Hemingway’s own life and character are indeed as fascinating as any in his stories. On one level, Papa was a legendary adventurer who enjoyed his flamboyant lifestyle and celebrity status. But deep inside lived a disciplined author who worked tirelessly in pursuit of literary perfection. His success in both living and writing is reflected in the fact that Hemingway is a hero to both intellectuals and rebels alike; the passions of the man are only equaled by that of his writing

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