Ernest Hemingway

Summary

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 2, 1961) was an American writer and journalist, one of the leading novelists and short story writers of the twentieth century.

His understated style had a great influence on twentieth-century fiction, while his adventurous life and public image left traces on later generations. Hemingway wrote most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea and the following year the Nobel Prize for Literature for his complete works. He published seven novels, six collections of short stories and two essays. Three novels, four books of short stories and three essays were published posthumously. Many of these are considered classics of American literature.

Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. After high school, he worked for a few months as a reporter for the Kansas City Star before going to the Italian front, where he enlisted as an ambulance driver during World War I and where he met Henry Serrano Villard, whom he befriended. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His war experiences served as the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. In 1921 he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent and assimilated the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the expatriate community, the “lost generation” of the 1920s. Hemingway”s first novel, Fiesta, was published in 1926.

After his divorce from Hadley Richardson in 1927, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. The couple divorced after Hemingway returned from the Spanish Civil War, where he had been a journalist, and after he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. He married his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, in 1940. They separated when he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II. He was present at the Normandy landings and the Liberation of Paris.

Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he nearly died in two successive plane crashes that left him in pain and in poor health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, in the 1930s, and in Cuba in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1959 he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide on July 2, 1961 at the age of 61.

First years

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His father, Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, was a physician and his mother, Grace Hall Hemingway, was a musician. Both were educated and well respected in the conservative community of Oak Park, a community of which Frank Lloyd Wright, one of its residents, said, “So many churches for so many good people.” For some time after their marriage, Clarence and Grace Hemingway lived with Grace”s father, Ernest Hall, who named their first grandchild. Ernest Hemingway would later say that he disliked his name, which he “associated with the naive, even absurd, hero of The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde”s play.” The family eventually moved into a seven-room house in a respectable neighborhood with a music studio for Grace and a doctor”s office for Clarence.

His mother participated in concerts in the village. As an adult, Hemingway claimed to hate his mother, although biographer Michael S. Reynolds notes that Hemingway was a reflection of her energy and enthusiasm. Her insistence that he learn to play the cello became “a source of conflict,” but he later admitted that music lessons were useful to his work, as evidenced by the counterpoint structure of the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. The family had a summer home called Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan, where his father taught him, as a boy of four, to hunt, fish, and camp in the woods and lakes of northern Michigan. His early experiences in the wilderness instilled in him a passion for outdoor adventure and life in remote or isolated areas.

From 1913 to 1917, Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School, where he played a variety of sports, including boxing, track, water polo and soccer, and excelled in English classes. He excelled in English classes and, for two years, performed in the school orchestra with his sister Marcelline. In his junior year he took a course in journalism, taught by Fannie Biggs, which was organized “as if the classroom were a newspaper office.” The best writers in the class would submit their articles to the school newspaper, The Trapeze. Both Hemingway and Marcelline submitted to the Trapeze; Hemingway”s first article was about a local performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and was published in January 1916. He continued to edit in the Trapeze and Tabula (the school yearbook), imitating the language of sportswriters under the pseudonym Ring Lardner, Jr.-a nod to Ring Lardner of the Chicago Tribune. Like Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis, Hemingway was a journalist before he became a novelist; after leaving high school he went to work as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star newspaper. Although he only worked there for six months, the Star”s stylebook formed the basis for his writing: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous language. Be positive, not negative.

World War I

In early 1918 Hemingway responded to a Red Cross recruitment drive in Kansas City and signed a contract to become an ambulance driver in Italy. He left New York in May and arrived in Paris while the city was under German artillery bombardment. By June he was on the Italian front. It was probably at this time that he met John Dos Passos, with whom he had an uneasy relationship for decades. On his first day in Milan he was sent to the scene of a munitions factory explosion where rescue teams recovered the shredded remains of female workers. He described the incident in his book Death in the Afternoon: “I remember that, after having searched for the complete bodies, the pieces were picked up.” A few days later he was stationed at Fossalta di Piave.

On July 8, he was badly wounded by mortar fire when he had just returned from the canteen to bring chocolate and cigarettes for the men at the front. Despite his wounds, Hemingway managed to rescue an Italian soldier, which earned him the Silver Medal for Military Valor from the Italian government. Only eighteen years old, Hemingway commented on the events: “When you go to war as a young man, you have a great illusion of immortality. It”s other people who die, it doesn”t happen to you. … Then, being seriously wounded for the first time, you lose this illusion and you know it can happen to yourself.” He suffered severe shrapnel wounds in both legs, underwent immediate surgery at a distribution center and spent five days in a field hospital before being transferred to the Red Cross hospital in Milan for recovery. He spent six months in the hospital, where he met “Chink” Dorman-Smith with whom he forged a strong friendship, which lasted for decades, and shared a room with future U.S. Ambassador and writer Henry Serrano Villard.

While recovering, he fell in love, for the first time, with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse seven years his senior. By the time he was released from the hospital and returned to the United States in January 1919, Agnes and Hemingway had already decided to marry in the United States after a few months. However, in March Agnes wrote to him that she had become engaged to an Italian officer. Biographer Jeffrey Meyers argues that Hemingway was devastated by Agnes”s rejection and that in future relationships he followed a pattern of abandoning a wife before she could do so.

Toronto and Chicago

Hemingway returned home in early 1919 and went through a period of adjustment. At just twenty years of age, the war had created in him a maturity that did not match well with the need for recuperation and a life at home without work. As Reynolds explains, “Hemingway could not tell his parents what he thought when he saw the bloody knee. He couldn”t tell how scared he was in another country with surgeons who couldn”t explain to him in English whether he would lose his leg or not.” In September he participated in a camping and fishing trip with high school friends in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This experience became a source of inspiration for his short story “The River of Two Hearts,” in which the semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams travels in the wilderness to find solitude after returning from the war. A family friend offered him a position in Toronto, and with nothing else to do, he accepted. Later that year he began working as a professional freelance writer and foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star Weekly where he met and befriended fellow journalist and novelist Morley Callaghan, who later introduced him to F. Scott Fitzgerald in Paris, an event that leads to the infamous boxing match between Hemingway and the Canadian. He returned to Michigan the following June, then moved to Chicago in September 1920 to live with friends, while continuing to submit his articles to the Toronto Star.

In Chicago, he worked as associate editor of the monthly magazine Cooperative Commonwealth, where he met novelist Sherwood Anderson. When Hadley Richardson, originally from St. Louis, arrived in Chicago to visit Hemingway”s roommate”s sister, he fell in love and later stated, “I knew she was the girl I was going to marry.” Hadley had red hair, with an “affectionate instinct,” and was eight years older than Hemingway. Despite the age difference, Hadley, who had grown up with an overprotective mother, seemed less mature than normal for a young woman her age. Bernice Kert, author of The Hemingway Women, states that Hadley was “evocative” of Agnes, despite having a childishness that was nonexistent in Agnes. The two corresponded for a few months, and decided to marry and travel to Europe. They wanted to visit Rome, but Sherwood Anderson convinced them to visit Paris, and wrote letters of recommendation for the young couple. They were married on September 3, 1921; two months later, Hemingway was hired as foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star and the couple left for Paris. Of Hemingway and Hadley”s marriage, Meyers comments, “With Hadley, Hemingway achieves everything he had hoped for with Agnes: the love of a beautiful woman, a comfortable income, a life in Europe.”

Paris

Carlos Baker, Hemingway”s first biographer, believes that while Anderson suggested Paris because “the exchange rate” made the city a cheap place to live, of greater importance was that it was the place where “the most interesting people in the world” lived. In Paris Hemingway met writers like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Ezra Pound who “could help a young writer up the rungs of a career.” The Hemingway of the early Paris years was a “tall, handsome, muscular, broad-shouldered, brown-eyed, rosy-cheeked, square-jawed, soft-spoken” young man. He and Hadley lived in a small walk-up building at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the Latin Quarter, and he worked in a rented room in a nearby building. Stein, who was the bastion of Anglo-Saxon modernism in Paris, became Hemingway”s mentor; she introduced him to the expatriate artists and writers of the Montparnasse neighborhood, whom she referred to as the “Lost Generation,” a term popularized by Hemingway with the publication of Fiesta. As a regular at Stein”s salon, Hemingway met influential painters such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Juan Gris. He eventually withdrew from Stein”s influence and their relationship deteriorated into a literary feud that spanned decades. American poet Ezra Pound met Hemingway by chance in 1922 at Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach”s bookstore. The two toured Italy in 1923 and were living on the same street in 1924. They forged a great friendship, and in Hemingway, Pound recognized and encouraged a young talent. Pound introduced Hemingway to Irish writer James Joyce, with whom Hemingway frequently embarked on “drinking sprees.”

During his first twenty months in Paris, Hemingway submitted eighty-eight articles to the Toronto Star newspaper. He covered the Greco-Turkish war, where he witnessed the burning of Smyrna, and wrote travel articles, such as “Tuna Fishing in Spain” and “Trout Fishing All Across Europe: Spain Has the Best, Then Germany”. Hemingway was devastated to learn that Hadley had lost a suitcase of his manuscripts at the Paris-Lyon station while traveling to Geneva to meet him in December 1922. The following September, the couple returned to Toronto, where their son John Hadley Nicanor was born on October 10, 1923. Hemingway”s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published during his absence. Two of the stories it contained were all that remained after the loss of the suitcase, and the third had been written during the spring in Italy. Within months a second volume, In Our Time, was published. The small volume included six vignettes and a dozen stories Hemingway had written the previous summer during his first visit to Spain, where he discovered the thrill of the corrida. He missed Paris, he considered Toronto boring, and wanted to return to the life of a writer, instead of living the life of a journalist.

Hemingway, Hadley and their son (nicknamed Bumby) returned to Paris in January 1924 and settled in a new apartment on rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. Hemingway helped Ford Madox Ford edit the literary magazine The Transatlantic Review, which published the works of Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and Gertrude Stein, as well as some of Hemingway”s early stories, such as “Indian Camp” (“Indian Camp”). When In Our Time was published in 1925, the dust jacket bore Ford”s comments. Indian Camp” received high praise; Ford considered it an important first work by a young writer, and critics in the United States praised Hemingway for revitalizing the short story genre with his fresh style and use of declarative sentences. Six months earlier, Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the two developed a friendship of mutual “admiration and hostility. Fitzgerald had published The Great Gatsby the same year: Hemingway read it, liked it, and decided that his next work had to be a novel.

In 1923, together with his wife Hadley, Hemingway visited for the first time the San Fermin festival in Pamplona (Spain), where he was fascinated by the bullfight. The Hemingways returned to Pamplona in 1924, where they befriended hotelier Juanito Quintana, who would introduce them to a number of bullfighters and aficionados, and a third time in June 1925; that year they brought a group of American and British expatriates: Hemingway”s childhood friend Bill Smith, Stewart, Lady Duff Twysden (recently divorced) and her lover Pat Guthrie, and Harold Loeb. A few days after the festival ended, on his birthday (July 21), he began writing the draft of Fiesta, finishing eight weeks later. A few months later, beginning in December 1925, the Hemingways spent the winter in Schruns, Austria, where Hemingway began an extensive revision of the manuscript. Pauline Pfeiffer joined them in January and, against Hadley”s advice, urged him to sign a contract with the publisher Scribner. He left Austria for a short trip to New York to meet with publishers, and on his return, during a stopover in Paris, he began an affair with Pauline, before returning to Schruns to finish revisions in March. The manuscript arrived in New York in April, he corrected the final proof in Paris in August 1926, and Scribner published the novel in October.

Fiesta epitomized the postwar expatriate generation, received good reviews, and was “recognized as Hemingway”s greatest work.” Hemingway later wrote to his publisher Max Perkins that the “point of the book” was not so much about a generation being lost, but that “the land remains forever”; he believed that the characters in Fiesta may have been “beaten,” but not lost.

Hemingway and Hadley”s marriage deteriorated while he was working on Fiesta. In the spring of 1926 Hadley became aware of his relationship with Pauline Pfeiffer, who came with them to Pamplona in July. Upon their return to Paris, Hadley asked for a separation, and in November formally filed for divorce. They divided their possessions, and Hadley accepted Hemingway”s offer to keep Fiesta”s earnings. The couple divorced in January 1927, and Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer in May of the same year.

Pauline, who was from a wealthy Catholic family in Arkansas, moved to Paris to work for Vogue magazine. Hemingway converted to Catholicism before their marriage. They had their honeymoon at Le Grau-du-Roi, where Hemingway contracted anthrax and where he planned his next collection of short stories entitled Men Without Women, which was published in October 1927. By the end of the year Pauline, who was pregnant, wanted to return to the United States. John Dos Passos recommended Key West in Florida, and they left Paris in 1928. That spring Hemingway suffered a serious injury in his bathroom in Paris, when he pulled a skylight over his head thinking he was flushing the toilet. This left him with a prominent scar on his forehead that he would carry for the rest of his life. When asked about the scar, he was reluctant to answer. After his departure from Paris, Hemingway “never lived in a big city again.”

Key West and Cuba

In late spring Hemingway and Pauline traveled to Kansas City, where their son Patrick was born on June 28, 1928. Pauline had a difficult delivery, which Hemingway incorporated as fiction in A Farewell to Arms. After Patrick”s birth, Pauline and Hemingway traveled to Wyoming, Massachusetts, and New York. In the winter he was in New York with Bumby, about to board a train to Florida, when he received a telegram telling him that his father had committed suicide. Hemingway was devastated; shortly before he had sent a letter to his father telling him not to worry about financial difficulties; the letter arrived minutes after the suicide. He realized how Hadley must have felt after his own father”s suicide in 1903, and commented, “I”m probably going to go the same way.”

Upon his return to Key West in December, Hemingway worked on his novel A Farewell to Arms before traveling to France in January. He had finished in August, but delayed revision. Serialization in Scribner”s Magazine was scheduled to begin in May, but in April Hemingway was still working on the final part that he might have rewritten as many as seventeen times. Finally the novel was published on September 27. Biographer James Mellow believes that A Farewell to Arms established Hemingway as an important American writer and showed a level of complexity that was not apparent in Fiesta. In Spain during the summer of 1929, Hemingway prepared his next work, Death in the Afternoon. He wanted to write a comprehensive essay on the bullfight, and the bullfighters, complete with glossaries and appendices, because he believed that the bullfight was “of great tragic interest, being literally a matter of life and death.”

During the 1930s Hemingway spent winters in Key West and summers in Wyoming, where he found “the most beautiful country he had seen in the western United States” where he hunted deer, elk and grizzly bears. He was accompanied there by Dos Passos and in November 1930, after driving Dos Passos to the railroad station in Billings, Hemingway broke his arm in a car accident. The surgeon treated the compound spiral fracture, joining the bone with kangaroo tendon. He was hospitalized for seven weeks, and the nerves in his writing hand needed a year to heal, during which time he suffered intense pain.

Their third son, Gregory Hancock Hemingway, was born the following year, on November 12, 1931, in Kansas City. Pauline”s uncle bought a house with a garage in Key West for the couple, and the second floor of the garage was converted into a writing studio. Its location across the street from the lighthouse made it easy to find one”s way home after a long night of drinking. While in Key West, Hemingway frequented the local Sloppy Joe”s. He invited friends-including Waldo Peirce, Dos Passos, and Max Perkins-to join him on fishing trips and on an expedition to the Dry Tortugas Islands. Meanwhile, he continued to travel to Europe and Cuba, and although he wrote of Key West in 1933, “We have a very good house here, and all the children are doing well,” Mellow believes that “he was clearly restless.”

In 1933, Hemingway and Pauline went on safari to East Africa. The ten-week trip provided material for The Green Hills of Africa, as well as the stories The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. The couple visited Mombasa, Nairobi, and Machakos in Kenya, and then traveled to Tanganyika, where they hunted in the Serengeti around Lake Manyara, and west and southeast of present-day Tarangire National Park. Their guide was the noted “white hunter” Philip Hope Percival, who had guided Theodore Roosevelt on safari in 1909. During these travels Hemingway contracted amoebic dysentery which caused a prolapsed intestine, and was evacuated by plane to Nairobi, an experience reflected in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. Upon Hemingway”s return to Key West in early 1934, he began work on The Green Hills of Africa, which was published in 1935 to mixed reviews.

Hemingway bought a boat in 1934, named it Pilar, and began sailing the Caribbean Sea. In 1935 he first arrived in Bimini, where he spent considerable time. During this period he also worked on To Have and Have Not, published in 1937, while in Spain, and the only novel he wrote during the 1930s.

Spanish Civil War and World War II

In 1937 Hemingway agreed to work as a Spanish Civil War correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), and arrived in Spain in March, along with the Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens, visiting among other cities Valencia and Madrid. Ivens, who was filming Land of Spain, wanted Hemingway to replace John Dos Passos as screenwriter, as Dos Passos had abandoned the project when his friend and translator José Robles Pazos was arrested and most likely killed by the NKVD. The incident changed Dos Passos” opinion of the left-wing Republicans, creating a rift between him and Hemingway, who later spread the rumor that Dos Passos had left Spain out of cowardice.

Journalist and writer Martha Gellhorn, whom Hemingway had met in Key West the previous Christmas (1936), joined him in Spain. Like Hadley, Martha was originally from St. Louis, and like Pauline had worked for Vogue magazine in Paris. Of Martha, Kert states that “she never took care of him the way other women did.” In late 1937, while in Madrid with Martha, Hemingway wrote his only play, The Fifth Column, while the city was being bombed. He returned to Key West for a few months and then returned to Spain twice in 1938, where he was present at the Battle of the Ebro, the last Republican stronghold, and was among the last British and American journalists to cross the river to leave the battle.

In the spring of 1939, Hemingway sailed to Cuba on his ship, to live at the Ambos Mundos Hotel in Havana. It was the first phase of a slow and painful separation from Pauline, which had begun when Hemingway met Martha. Martha soon joined him in Cuba, and they bought Finca Vigia, a 61,000 m² estate twenty-four kilometers from Havana. In the summer, Pauline and the children left Hemingway after the family had been reunited during a visit to Wyoming. After finalizing his divorce from Pauline, he married Martha on November 20, 1940 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As he had done after his divorce from Hadley, he changed residences, moving his main summer residence to Ketchum, Idaho, outside the new town of Sun Valley, and his winter residence to Cuba. Hemingway, who had been upset when a friend in Paris allowed his cats to eat at the table, fell in love with cats in Cuba, keeping dozens of them at the estate.

Gellhorn inspired him to write his most famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which he began in March 1939 and finished in July 1940. It was published in October 1940. In keeping with his routine of changing residences while working on a manuscript, he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba, Wyoming and Sun Valley. Selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club, For Whom the Bell Tolls sold half a million copies in a matter of months, received a Pulitzer Prize nomination and, as Meyers explains, “triumphantly re-established Hemingway”s literary reputation.”

In January 1941 Martha was sent to China on assignment for Collier”s Weekly magazine. Hemingway accompanied her and sent his dispatches to PM, but generally disliked China. They returned to Cuba before the U.S. declaration of war in December, upon which he convinced the Cuban government to help him refit his ship, the Pilar, with the intention of using it to ambush German U-boats off the coast of Cuba.

From May 1944 to March 1945 Hemingway was in London and Europe. When Hemingway first arrived in London he met Time magazine correspondent Mary Welsh, with whom he fell in love. Martha, who had been forced to cross the Atlantic on a boat loaded with explosives because he had refused to help her get a press pass on a plane, arrived in London to find Hemingway hospitalized with a concussion from a car accident. Indifferent to his physical condition, she accused him of being a bully, and told him he was “finished, absolutely finished.” The last time he saw Martha was in March 1945, when he was about to return to Cuba. Meanwhile, on his third meeting with Mary Welsh, he asked her to marry him.

Hemingway, wearing a large bandage on his head, was present during the Normandy landings, although he remained in a landing craft because the military considered him a “precious cargo,” although biographer Kenneth Lynn contends that he fabricated stories that he went ashore during the landing. In late July, he joined the “22nd Infantry Regiment,” commanded by Colonel Charles Buck Lanham, which was headed toward Paris, and Hemingway became the de facto leader of a small group of village militiamen in Rambouillet, outside Paris. Of Hemingway”s exploits, historian Paul Fussell commented, “Hemingway got into considerable trouble playing infantry captain with a resistance group he assembled, because a correspondent is not supposed to lead troops, even if he does it well.” This was against the Geneva Convention, and Hemingway was formally arrested; he said he settled the matter by claiming he only offered advice.

On August 25, 1944, he was present during the liberation of Paris, although contrary to legend, Hemingway was not the first to enter the city, nor did he liberate the Ritz. He did, however, attend a meeting organized by Sylvia Beach, where he “made peace” with Gertrude Stein. That same year, he was present during the heavy fighting of the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. On December 17, 1944, feverish and in bad shape, he had driven to Luxembourg to cover what would later be called the Battle of the Bulge. As soon as he arrived, however, Lanham turned him over to the medics, who hospitalized him with pneumonia; when he recovered a week later, most of the fighting was over.

In 1947, Hemingway was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery during World War II. He was recognized for his bravery, having been “under fire in combat zones in order to obtain an accurate picture of conditions” with the citation that “through his talent for expression, Mr. Hemingway enabled readers to obtain a vivid picture of the hardships and triumphs of the front-line soldier and his organization in combat.”

Cuba and the Nobel Prize

Hemingway said that from 1942 to 1945 he was “out of business as a writer.” In 1946 he married Mary, who had an ectopic pregnancy five months later. The Hemingway family suffered a series of accidents and health problems in the years after the war: in a traffic accident in 1945 Ernest “broke his knee” and had another “deep forehead wound”; Mary broke first her right ankle and then her left ankle in successive skiing accidents. A traffic accident in 1947 left Patrick with a head injury and seriously ill. Hemingway sank into depression as his literary friends began to pass away: in 1939 W. B. Yeats and Ford Madox Ford; in 1940 Scott Fitzgerald; in 1941 Sherwood Anderson and James Joyce; in 1946 Gertrude Stein; and the following year, in 1947, Max Perkins, Hemingway”s longtime editor and friend at Scribner”s publishing house. During this period, he suffered from severe headaches, high blood pressure, weight problems, and finally diabetes-much of which was the result of earlier accidents and many years of heavy drinking.

Nevertheless, in January 1946, he began work on The Garden of Eden, finishing eight hundred pages by June. During the postwar years he also began work on a trilogy, tentatively titled “The Land,” “The Sea,” and “The Air,” with the intent of uniting them into a novel titled The Sea Book. However, both projects stalled, and Mellow notes that Hemingway”s inability to follow them up was “a symptom of his problems” during these years.

In 1948, Hemingway and Mary traveled to Europe and stayed in Venice for several months. There, Hemingway fell in love with Adriana Ivancich, a 19-year-old girl. The story of this platonic love inspired the novel Across the River and Through the Trees, which he wrote in Cuba during a time of conflict with Mary; it was published in 1950, receiving negative reviews. The following year, furious at the critical reception of Across the River and Through the Trees, he wrote the draft of The Old Man and the Sea in eight weeks, saying it was “the best thing I can write in my entire life.” The Old Man and the Sea, which became a Book-of-the-Month selection, made Hemingway an international celebrity and received the Pulitzer Prize in May 1952, a month before he left for his second trip to Africa.

In 1953, after fifteen years of absence, Hemingway returned to Spain, where Franco”s authorities did not bother him and he again attended the Sanfermines in Pamplona. In 1954, while in Africa, Hemingway almost died in two successive plane crashes that left him seriously injured. As a Christmas present to Mary he had booked a sightseeing flight over the Belgian Congo. En route to photograph the Murchison Falls from the air, the plane hit an abandoned power pole and had to make an “emergency landing in the dense undergrowth.” Hemingway”s injuries included a head injury, while Mary broke two ribs. The next day, in an attempt to reach medical care in Entebbe, they boarded a second plane that exploded during takeoff; Hemingway suffered burns and another concussion, this time severe enough to cause him to lose cerebral fluid. They finally arrived in Entebbe, where they realized that reporters were covering the story of Hemingway”s death. He informed the reporters of their mistake and spent the next few weeks recovering and reading their premature obituaries. Despite his injuries, Hemingway accompanied Patrick and his wife on a planned fishing expedition in February, but grief led him to become choleric and difficult to deal with. In a forest fire he was again injured, suffering second-degree burns to his legs, front torso, lips, left hand, and right forearm. Months later, in Venice, Mary listed Hemingway”s serious injuries: two cracked intervertebral discs, a ruptured liver and kidney, a dislocated shoulder, and a fractured skull. The accidents may have precipitated the physical deterioration that was to follow. After the plane crashes, Hemingway, who had been “a barely controlled alcoholic” for much of his life, drank more than usual to combat the pain of his injuries.

In October 1954, Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Modestly, he told the press that Carl Sandburg, Isak Dinesen and Bernard Berenson deserved the prize, but that the money would be welcome. Mellow states that Hemingway “had coveted the Nobel Prize,” but when he won it, months after his plane crash and after the world press coverage that followed, “there must have been a lingering suspicion in Hemingway”s mind that his obituaries had played a role in the academy”s decision.” As he was still suffering from the pain of the accidents in Africa, he decided not to travel to Stockholm. Instead he sent a speech to be read, in which he defined the writer”s life: “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer”s loneliness, but I doubt whether they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he pours out his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. Because he does his work alone, and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity, or lack of it, every day.”

From late 1955 to early 1956 Hemingway was bedridden. He was told to stop drinking to mitigate liver damage, advice he initially followed but then ignored. In October 1956 he returned to Europe and met the Basque writer Pío Baroja, who was seriously ill and died weeks later. During the trip, Hemingway fell ill again and was treated for “high blood pressure, liver disease and arteriosclerosis”.

In November, while in Paris, he remembered the trunks he had stored at the Ritz Hotel in 1928 and had never retrieved. The trunks were full of notebooks and writings from his years in Paris. When he returned to Cuba in 1957, excited by the discovery, he began to shape the recovered work into his autobiography Paris Was a Party. In 1959 he completed a period of intense activity: he finished Paris Was a Party (he added chapters to The Garden of Eden; and worked on Islands in the Gulf. The last three were stored in a deposit box in Havana, while he concentrated on the finishing touches of Paris was a Party. Reynolds states that it was during this period that Hemingway sank into depression, from which he was unable to recover.

Finca Vigia became increasingly crowded with guests and tourists, and Hemingway, who was beginning to feel unhappy with life there, was considering a permanent move to Idaho. In 1959 he bought a house overlooking the Big Wood River outside Ketchum, and left Cuba, although he apparently maintained good relations with Fidel Castro”s government, commenting to the New York Times that he was “delighted” with Castro”s overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. He was in Cuba in November 1959, between his return from Pamplona and his trip to Idaho, and also for his birthday the following year; however, that same year he and Mary decided to leave Cuba, after learning the news that Castro wanted to nationalize the property of Americans and other foreigners on the island. In July 1960, the Hemingways left Cuba for the last time, leaving artwork and manuscripts in a bank vault in Havana. After the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, the Finca Vigia, including Hemingway”s collection of some “four to six thousand books,” was expropriated by the Cuban government.

Idaho and suicide

Until the late 1950s Hemingway continued to revise the material to be published as Paris was a fiesta. In the summer of 1959 he visited Spain to prepare a series of articles on bullfighting commissioned by Life Magazine, returning to Cuba in January 1960 to work on the manuscript. Life only wanted 10,000 words, but the manuscript grew out of control. For the first time in his life he was unable to organize his texts and asked A. E. Hotchner to travel to Cuba to help him. Hotchner helped him trim the text for Life to 40,000 words, and the publisher Scribner agreed to the full book version, entitled The Dangerous Summer, of nearly 130,000 words. To Hotchner, Hemingway seemed “extraordinarily indecisive, disorganized, and confused,” and suffered greatly from impaired vision.

On July 25, 1960, Hemingway and Mary left Cuba for the last time. Hemingway then traveled alone to Spain to be photographed for the Life Magazine article. A few days later press reports came out that he was seriously ill and near death, which caused Mary to panic until she received a telegram from Hemingway saying “False reports. On my way to Madrid. Love Papa.” However, he was seriously ill and believed he was on the verge of collapse. He became lonely and stayed in his bed for days, retreating into silence, despite the publication of the first installments of The Dangerous Summer in Life in September 1960 and the good reviews the article garnered. In October he traveled from Spain to New York, where he refused to leave Mary”s apartment on the pretext that he was being watched. She promptly took him to Idaho, where George Saviers (a Sun Valley doctor) met them on the railroad.

By this time, Hemingway was worried about his finances and his safety. He was concerned about his taxes, and said he would never return to Cuba to retrieve the manuscripts he had left in a bank vault. He became paranoid and thought the FBI was actively monitoring his movements in Ketchum. By late November Mary was desperate and Saviers suggested that Hemingway be transferred to the Mayo Clinic, in Minnesota, where he may have believed he was to be treated for hypertension. In an attempt at anonymity, he was registered under his doctor”s last name, Saviers. Meyers writes that “an aura of secrecy surrounds Hemingway”s treatment at the Mayo Clinic,” but confirms that he was treated with electroconvulsive therapy up to 15 times in December 1960, only to be “released in ruins” in January 1961. Reynolds obtained access to Hemingway”s records at the Mayo Clinic, which indicate that he was treated for a depressive state that may have been caused by a combination of medications.

According to A. E. Hotchner, Hemingway”s close associate and writer of Papa Hemingway and Hemingway and His World, Hemingway complained for years that he was under FBI surveillance. Hotchner and other friends of the Nobel laureate dismissed such claims as paranoia. It came as a surprise to Hotchner that, in 1980, when the FBI was forced to release some of their Hemingway files (they did not release some that gave them away as being culpable in his death), it turned out that Hemingway was right. Hotchner believes that FBI surveillance “contributed substantially to the anguish and . . . to the suicide,” adding that he had “woefully misjudged” his friend”s fear of the organization.

Back in Ketchum three months later, in April 1961, one morning in the kitchen, Mary “found Hemingway holding a shotgun”. She called Saviers, who gave him a sedative and admitted him to Sun Valley Hospital; from there he was returned to the Mayo Clinic for further electroshock therapy. He was released in late June and arrived home in Ketchum on June 30. Two days later, in the early morning hours of July 2, 1961, Hemingway “deliberately” shot himself with his favorite shotgun. He opened the basement cellar where he kept his guns, climbed the stairs to the front entrance hall of his home, and “pushed two slugs into the twelve-gauge Boss shotgun, placed the end of the barrel in his mouth, pulled the trigger, and exploded his brain.” Mary called Sun Valley Hospital, and Dr. Scott Earle arrived at the house “fifteen minutes” later. Despite her claim that Hemingway “had died of a self-inflicted head wound,” the story told to the press was that the death had been “accidental. “However, in a press interview five years later, Mary Hemingway admitted that her husband had committed suicide.

During his later years, Hemingway”s behavior was similar to that of his father before he committed suicide; his father may have suffered from a genetic disease, hemochromatosis, in which an inability to metabolize iron culminates in mental and physical deterioration. Medical records available in 1991 confirm that Hemingway”s hemochromatosis had been diagnosed in early 1961. His sister Ursula and brother Leicester also committed suicide. Adding to Hemingway”s physical ailments was the problem that he had been a heavy drinker most of his life.

Hemingway”s family and friends traveled to Ketchum for the funeral, which was officiated by the local Catholic priest, who believed his death to have been accidental. His brother Leicester wrote of the funeral (during which an altar boy fainted at the head of the coffin), “It seemed to me that Ernest would have approved of everything.”

Henry Louis Gates believes that Hemingway”s style was formed “in reaction to world war experience.” After World War I, he and other modernists “lost faith in the central institutions of Western civilization,” reacted against the elaborate style of nineteenth-century writers, and created a style “in which meaning is established through dialogue, through action, and silences, a fiction in which nothing important, or at least very little, is said explicitly.”

Developing this connection between Hemingway and other modernist writers, Irene Gammel believes that his style was carefully cultivated and honed with an eye to the avant-garde of the era. Hungry for “avant-garde experimentation” and rebellion against the “sober modernism” of Ford Madox Ford, Hemingway published the work of Gertrude Stein and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven in the transatlantic review. As Gammel notes, Hemingway was “introduced to the baroness”s experimental style at a time when he was actively pruning the verbal ”fat” from his own style, as well as flexing his writerly muscles to confront conventional taste.”

Because he began as a short story writer, Baker believes Hemingway learned “how to get the most out of the least, how to prune the language, how to multiply the intensity, and how to tell nothing but the truth in a way that allowed more than the truth to be told. Hemingway called his style the iceberg theory: facts float on water; supporting structure and symbolism operate out of sight. The concept of the iceberg theory is also known as the “theory of omission. Hemingway believed that the writer can describe one thing (like Nick Adams, fishing in “The River of Two Hearts”) while an entirely different thing is going on below the surface (Nick Adams concentrating on fishing to the extent that he doesn”t have to think about anything else).

Jackson Benson believes that Hemingway used autobiographical details as framing devices for life in general, not just his own life. For example, Benson posits that Hemingway used his experiences and mined them with “what if” scenarios-“What if I were wounded so badly that I couldn”t sleep at night, what if I were wounded and maddened, what if I were sent back to the front?”

The simplicity of the prose is deceptive. Zoe Trodd believes Hemingway crafted skeletal sentences in response to Henry James”s observation that World War I had “exhausted words.” Hemingway offers a “multi-focal” photographic reality. His theory of the iceberg, of omission, is the foundation on which he builds. The syntax, lacking subordinating conjunctions, creates static sentences. The “photographic snapshot” style creates a collage of images. Many types of internal punctuation (colons, commas, dashes, parentheses) are omitted in favor of short declarative sentences. Sentences build on each other, like events that accumulate to create a sense of wholeness. There are multiple strands to a story; an “embedded text” bridges to a different angle. He also uses other cinematic techniques such as quickly “cutting” from one scene to the next; or “splicing” from one scene to the next. Intentional omissions allow the reader to fill in the gap, as if responding to the author”s instructions, and create a three-dimensional prose.

In both his literature and his personal writings, Hemingway used the word “and” in place of commas. This use of polysyndeton may serve to convey immediacy. Hemingway”s polysyndeton sentence-or, in later works, his use of subordinate sentences-uses conjunctions to juxtapose striking visions and images. Benson compares them to haikus. Many of Hemingway”s followers misunderstood his example and disapproved of any expression of emotion; Saul Bellow satirized this style by commenting, “Got emotions? strangle them.” Hemingway”s intention, however, was not to eliminate emotion, but to portray it in a more scientific form. Hemingway believed that it would be easy, and useless, to describe emotion; he sculpted collages of images in order to capture “the naked reality, the succession of movements and events that produces emotion, the reality that may be valid a year from now or ten years from now or, with a little luck and sufficient purity of expression, for a long time.” This use of the image as an objective correlate is characteristic of Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, James Joyce, and Proust. Hemingway”s letters refer to Proust”s In Search of Lost Time on several occasions over the years, and indicate that he read the book at least twice.

The popularity of Hemingway”s work is largely based on themes, which according to scholar Frederic Svoboda are love, war, nature, and loss, all of which are very present in his work. These are recurring themes in American literature, and are evident in Hemingway”s work. Literary critic Leslie Fiedler notes that in Hemingway”s work the theme he defines as “sacred ground”-the Old West-extends to include the mountains in Spain, Switzerland, and Africa, as well as the rivers of Michigan. The Old West receives a symbolic nod with the inclusion of the “Montana Hotel” in Fiesta and For Whom the Bell Tolls. According to Stoltzfus and Fiedler, for Hemingway nature is a therapeutic place, for rebirth, and the hunter or fisherman has a moment of transcendence when he kills the prey. Nature is where men without women are: men fish, hunt, and find redemption in nature. Although Hemingway also writes about sports, Carlos Baker believes the emphasis is more on the athlete than the sport, while Beegel sees the essence of Hemingway as an American naturalist, as reflected in the detailed descriptions that can be found in “The River of Two Hearts.”

Fiedler believes that Hemingway reverses the American literary theme of the “dark woman” and bad, versus the “light woman” and good. Brett Ashley, the dark woman in Fiesta, is a goddess; Margot Macomber, the light woman in “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” is a murderer. Robert Scholes acknowledges that Hemingway”s early stories, such as “A Very Short Story,” present “favorably a male character and unfavorably a woman.” According to Rena Sanderson, Hemingway”s early critics praised his macho world of male activities, and his fiction that divided women into “castrators or love slaves.” Feminist critics attacked Hemingway as “public enemy number one,” although more recent re-evaluations of his work “have given new visibility to Hemingway”s female characters (and their strengths) and have highlighted his sensitivity to gender issues, thus calling into question the longstanding assumption that his writing was unilaterally masculine.” Nina Baym believes that Brett Ashley and Margot Macomber “are two outstanding examples of Hemingway”s ”bitchy women.””

The theme of women and death is evident in early narratives such as “Indian Camp”. The theme of death permeates Hemingway”s work. Young believes that the emphasis in “Indian Camp” was not so much on the woman giving birth, or the father committing suicide, but on Nick Adams witnessing these events as a child, and becoming a “gravely wounded and nervous young man.” In “Indian Camp” Hemingway establishes the events that shape Adams” character. Young believes that “Indian Camp” holds the “master key” to “its author”s purposes during the thirty-five years of his writing career.” Stoltzfus considers Hemingway”s work to be more complex, with a depiction of the truth inherent in existentialism: if “nothingness” is embraced, then redemption is realized at the moment of death. Those who face death with dignity and courage live an authentic life. Francis Macomber dies happy because the last hours of his life are authentic; the bullfighter in the bullfight represents the pinnacle of a life lived authentically. In his essay The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field, Timo Müller writes that the success of Hemingway”s fiction is due to the fact that his characters live an “authentic life,” and the “soldiers, fishermen, boxers, and lumberjacks are among the archetypes of authenticity in modern literature.”

The theme of emasculation is prevalent in Hemingway”s work, especially in Fiesta. According to Fiedler, emasculation is the result of a generation of wounded soldiers; and of a generation in which women, like Brett, won emancipation. This also applies to the secondary character, Frances Clyne, Cohn”s girlfriend at the beginning of the book. Her character supports the theme not only because the idea was introduced early in the novel, but also because of the impact she had on Cohn at the beginning of the book, even though she only appears a few times. Baker believes that Hemingway”s work emphasizes the “natural” versus the “unnatural.” In “Alpine Idyll,” the “unnaturalness” of skiing in the high mountain snow in late spring is juxtaposed with the “unnaturalness” of the farmer who allowed his wife”s corpse to linger too long in the shed during the winter. The skiers and the farmer retreat to the “natural” spring in the valley for redemption.

Some critics have characterized Hemingway”s work as misogynistic and homophobic. Susan Beegel analyzed four decades of Hemingway criticism in her essay “Critical Reception”. She found that “critics interested in multiculturalism,” especially in the 1980s, simply ignored Hemingway, although some “apologetics” were written. The following analysis of Fiesta is typical of these critics, “Hemingway never allows the reader to forget that Cohn is a Jew, not an unattractive character who happens to be a Jew, but a character who is unattractive because he is a Jew.” During the same decade, according to Beegel, reviews were also published that investigated the “horror of homosexuality” and racism in Hemingway”s fiction.

Hemingway”s legacy to American literature is his style: writers who came after him emulated or avoided him. After his reputation was established with the publication of Fiesta, he became the spokesman for the early postwar generation, having established a style to follow. In 1933 his books were burned by the Nazis in Berlin as “a monument of modern decadence. His parents disapproved of his literature calling it “filth.” Reynolds states that his legacy is that “he left such poignant stories and novels that some have become part of our cultural heritage.” In a 2004 speech at the John F. Kennedy Library, Russell Banks stated that, like many male writers of his generation, he was influenced by Hemingway”s literary philosophy, style and public image. Müller reports that for the public, Hemingway “has the highest degree of recognition of writers in the entire world.” In contrast, in 2012 novelist John Irving rejected most of Hemingway”s work “with the exception of a few short stories,” saying that “the write-what-you-know dictum has no place in the literature of imagination.” Irving also objected to the “hard-man-offensive stance-all those recalcitrant men of the say-so type” and contrasted Hemingway”s approach with that of Herman Melville, quoting the latter”s advice, “beware who seeks to please rather than to frighten.””

Benson believes that the details of Hemingway”s life became a “major means of exploitation,” which resulted in a Hemingway industry. Hallengren believes that “hard style” and machismo must be separated from the author himself. Benson agrees, describing him as as introverted and reserved as J. D. Salinger, although Hemingway masked his nature with boastfulness. Indeed, Salinger-who met Hemingway during World War II and corresponded with him-acknowledged Hemingway”s influence. In a letter to Hemingway, Salinger claims that their conversations “had given him his only minutes of hope during the whole war,” and jokingly “called himself the national president of the Hemingway Fan Clubs.”

The International Hemingway Imitation Competition was created in 1977 as a public recognition of his influence and to highlight the comically misguided efforts of imitations of his style by lesser authors. Entrants are invited to submit a “very good page of very bad Hemingway style” and the winners are awarded a trip to “Harry”s Bar” in Italy.

A minor planet discovered in 1978 by Soviet Union astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh was named 3656 Hemingway to honor the writer.

The influence is evident in the numerous restaurants named “Hemingway”; and the proliferation of bars named “Harry”s” (a nod to the bar in Across the River and Through the Trees). A Hemingway furniture line, promoted by his son Jack Hemingway (Bumby), features such pieces as a “Kilimanjaro” nightstand and a “Catherine” slipcovered sofa. Montblanc offers a Hemingway fountain pen, and a line of Hemingway safari clothing was created.

Mary Hemingway created the Hemingway Foundation in 1965, and donated her husband”s papers to the John F. Kennedy Library in 1970. In 1980 a group of Hemingway scholars met to evaluate the donated papers, subsequently forming the Hemingway Society which is “committed to supporting and furthering Hemingway scholarship.”

Ray Bradbury wrote The Kilimanjaro Device, in which Hemingway is transported to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The film Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), about the friendship of two retired men in a coastal Florida town, is so titled for one of the characters (played by Richard Harris) who claims to have wrestled Hemingway in 1930.

Two of Hemingway”s granddaughters, sisters Mariel and Margaux Hemingway (Margaux was also a fashion model). On July 1, 1996, at the age of 42 and almost thirty-five years after Ernest Hemingway”s death, Margaux Hemingway committed suicide in Santa Monica, California, becoming “the fifth person to commit suicide in four generations of her family”.

Others

Apart from the various film adaptations of his novels and short stories, Hemingway has been portrayed by actor Clive Owen in the film biopic “Hemingway and Gellhorn” (2012), directed by Philip Kaufman, which tells the story of Hemingway”s relationship and subsequent marriage to Martha Gellhorn, played by Nicole Kidman, and also portrayed by Cory Stoll in Woody Allen”s celebrated film “Midnight in Paris” (2011). The writer was also played by Cory Stoll in Woody Allen”s celebrated film “Midnight in Paris” (2011), in which the protagonist, an American writer (Owen Wilson), travels back in time and enters the artistic circles of Paris in the 1920s, where he meets Ernest Hemingway, among others.

Subsequently, Heminghway would be played by actor Adrian Sparks in Papa: Hemingway in Cuba (2015) directed by Bob Yari where Hemingway”s life is narrated during his stay in the city of Havana, Cuba in the late 50”s and where it also talks about a friendship that Ernest had with journalist Denne Bart Petitclerc. He was also portrayed by Dominic West in The Book Publisher (2016) directed by Michael Grandage.

In Spanish fiction, he was portrayed in an episode of “El Ministerio del Tiempo”. In this case, the actor Félix Arcarazo portrayed him as a womanizer and drinker in the Sanfermines of Pamplona in episode 12 of the second season (2016).

Sources

  1. Ernest Hemingway
  2. Ernest Hemingway