Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist, journalist, short-story writer, and the Nobel Prize winner for his work "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Most of his novels are now considered classic works of American literature. Almost the same age as his fellow writers William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Dos Passos, Hemingway also left his mark in literature history with his short stories.
In short, he was a writer, a fisherman, a hero, and a legend, something like a rock star of his time living his adventurous life and writing about it.
Early Life and Education
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American writer and journalist who was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. He was the second of six children in his family. Hemingway's father, Clarence Hemingway, was a physician, and his mother, Grace Hemingway, was a musician.
He was the second of a total of six children. He had a brother and four sisters. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Ernest, and his uncle Miller. It was his grandfather, after whom he was named, who built the house where his family lived, and where his mother gave birth to him.
The place where he was born and grew up is called Oak Park, then a middle-class neighborhood dominated by Protestants. Hemingway himself believed that his hometown was quite narrow-minded. Conservatism was his main characteristic thus he was also raised in the spirit of conservatism, where hard work was considered the leading virtue, accompanied by a strict religious upbringing.
He spent his childhood playing outdoor games and he was extremely attached to his father who often took him hunting and fishing around Lake Michigan. The Hemingway family had a cottage on one of the nearby lakes (they called it "Windemere"), where they stayed in it during the holidays. His mother was talented in singing, and she was about to launch a music career when she got married and gave birth to children. She gave up her musical ambitions and used her talent to educate her own children. Thus, from a young age, Hemingway spent a large part of his free time with his mother, who taught him how to sing and play various instruments.
Although he put in a lot of effort during his mother's training, it turned out that he had no sense of music. Hemingway completed elementary and high school in his hometown. He showed his talent for writing in high school when he wrote school articles imbued with humor, based on the famous satirists of the time. The articles were published in the high school newspaper "Trapeze".
After high school, in 1998, he got a job at the Kansas City Star newspaper where he worked as a reporter. His parents were very dissatisfied with his employment decision since they had high hopes for their son. They thought he would get a better-paid job after completing his studies. However, Hemingway never went to college.
When he turned 18, he wasn’t accepted into the military, although he had a great desire to become a soldier. The reason he was turned off was due to his vision problems caused by a genetic factor. Just like his mother, he couldn’t see that well with his left eye. He soon heard about how the "Red Cross" was short of ambulance drivers. Without much hesitation, he went there and signed up as a volunteer. He was employed in this position from December 1917 to April 1918, when he also voluntarily left the job.
In the early period of his literary work, he described two types of people. One group consisted of fighters for moral values in which they believe, but they only respect personal emotional needs. The second group of people consists of those with a very simple character and primitive emotions.
Hemingway's earliest works are the collection of short stories "Three Stories and Ten Poems" and the novel "The Torrents of Spring". During the First World War, he traveled to Europe, more precisely to Italy, where in May 1918 he joined the military campaigns. In June of the same year, he was wounded. An Austrian shell fell near him while Italian soldiers were handing out cigarettes, candies, and chocolates. At the moment of the explosion, one of the Italian soldiers lost his life, another had his legs blown off, and Hemingway lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness, although seriously wounded, Hemingway tried to save the life of another wounded soldier by carrying him on his back to a place where he could be given adequate help.
In January 1919, he returned to his homeland. As his parents were worried about his future, they often imposed some of their ideas on him regarding the jobs he could do, and their ambitions about continuing his education and obtaining a university degree returned. He did not pay much attention to the various suggestions of his parents. Shortly after returning to the US, he received a certain amount of insurance money, which was enough for him to live a full year without work. He spent this year in his parents' house, without the intention or need to get a job. He used his free time for frequent visits to the library and writing.
In the next stage of his life, he moved to Chicago. At first, he lived in a friend's apartment. He began writing for the Toronto Star Weekly in the fall of 1920. One day he met Hadley Richardson and fell in love with her. Hemingway and Hadley began a love affair that resulted in their marriage in September 1921. During this period, he was promoted at work. He became the European correspondent for the Toronto Star Weekly. He moved to Paris with his wife for work.
In December 1921, they started living in Paris in a small, unconditioned apartment, without an adequate bathroom and running water. Although he received a solid salary, he waited a while before moving to a bigger and better apartment.
In Paris, he made numerous friendships with local writers and artists. This group of prominent artists was called "The Lost Generation". Some of these artists were Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Beach, Max Eastman, etc. In Paris, Hemingway also met the famous Picasso.
He was influenced by a wide range of writers, artists, and experiences in his life. Some of the major influences on Hemingway's work include Mark Twain whose writing style and sense of humor Hemingway admired. He also credited Twain as one of his main literary influences. Hemingway's close friend Gertrude Stein who influenced his writing style, which focused on everyday language and the rhythms of speech. Later, Sherwood Anderson who Hemingway credited with encouraging him to become a writer and with introducing him to the literary scene in Paris. Hemingway was also a fan of James Joyce's writing and was influenced by his use of stream-of-consciousness techniques and his portrayal of complex, troubled characters. Hemingway was an avid art lover and was influenced by the work of artists such as Cezanne and Matisse, particularly in his use of imagery and his portrayal of visual detail.
Throughout the year, he reported in detail about field affairs and various current events in the world. His name resonated in the world of newspaper reporters and writers, all thanks to his dedicated work.
In 1923, for private reasons, more precisely because of his wife's pregnancy, they temporarily returned to the USA, so that she could give birth in better conditions. Meanwhile, Hemingway continued to write for the same paper.
In October, they had a son whom they named John. In January of the following year, they returned to Paris. Four years after the birth of the child, Hemingway divorced his wife. He met and married Pauline Pfeiffer, a reporter for women's magazines. The couple moved to Florida in 1927. In the same year, his father, due to his increasingly difficult mental capacity, committed suicide. Hemingway organized his father's funeral in their hometown.
After this family tragedy, the following year, the Hemingway couple had a new baby. A boy was born, whom they named Patrick. He received international literary recognition when he published the novel "The Sun Also Rises". In this novel, he depicts the life of the lost generation after World War I.
In 1929, Hemingway published his work "A Farewell to Arms". His son Gregory was born in 1931, and two years later the writer traveled to Africa. There, with an adventurous spirit, he tested his hunting skills by hunting the most dangerous animals. He spent a total of three months in Africa. He also used this time to collect material for the creation of a new literary work.
In this period, his two realistic novels "Death in Afternoon" and "Green Hills of Africa" were published. He wrote in short and clear sentences.
As civil war broke out in Spain in early 1937, Hemingway traveled to the war-torn country to report for the North American Newspaper Alliance. There he met the young writer Martha Gellhorn, with whom he entered into a love relationship that was kept secret for four years, and resulted in his divorce from his wife so he could marry Marta. Another reason for the breakdown of his marriage was their different views on political issues. Pauline was on the side of the fascist regime, while Hemingway was on the side of the communist loyalists.
He moved to Cuba with his new wife Marta where he bought a large house near Havana. He continued his successful literary career. He published the book "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in 1940. The book was positively evaluated by critics and readers and brought Hemingway significant financial success. In just half a year, 500,000 copies were sold.
He received the Pulitzer Prize for the novel "The Old Man and the Sea". Many of his works remained only in manuscripts. He condemned political and economic injustice in the works "To Have and Have Not" and "The Fifth Column".
In the work "For Whom the Bell Tolls" he thematized the problem of loss of freedom. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature on October 28, 1954, but he didn’t attend the award ceremony in Sweden because he survived two plane crashes in a short period of time, after which he was recovering. Hemingway wrote a speech, and it was read by the American ambassador to Sweden, John Cabot.
In the first plane crash, he flew with Mary over Africa. The pilot, trying to avoid a flock of birds, ran into telephone wires. They passed without serious injuries. When they rented a new plane, with a new pilot, they had another accident, because the plane caught fire. The pilot and Mary quickly got out, but Hemingway, in order to get out, banged his head on the door. Although he managed to get out of the burning plane, he still suffered a fractured skull.
During World War II, he traveled to Europe to send reports from the battlefield. Shortly after arriving in London, he had a car accident, after which he rested and recovered for a long time. The accident contributed to the breakup of his marriage as Marta blamed him for the accident. He soon announced his new love affair with a woman named Mary.
He continued his journalistic work reporting on the war from Paris, spent a lot of time on the Chinese front, then performed the duties of the official reporter of the First Army of the United States Army. Hemingway returned to the USA in March 1946.
His life and work influenced numerous writers. Many works of this author are classified as classics of American literature and many of them have been adapted into films. He found inspiration for writing from personal experiences, as he led a stormy life, accompanied by various adventures.
Many writers have been inspired by Hemingway's writing style, which is known for its simplicity, clarity, and directness. Some writers who have been influenced by Hemingway include Norman Mailer who was heavily influenced by his use of short, simple sentences and his focus on the human condition, Raymond Carver, a popular American writer known for his minimalist style and his portrayal of working-class characters who was influenced by Hemingway's stripped-down, economical writing style and his portrayal of ordinary people, J.D. Salinger was a contemporary of Hemingway and was heavily influenced by his writing style, particularly his use of dialogue and his portrayal of complex, troubled characters, James Jones and Ernest Gaines, an African American writer who was influenced by Hemingway's portrayal of ordinary people and his simple, direct writing style.
Some of the most popular works by Ernest Hemingway include:
- The Old Man and the Sea - this novella tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago and his struggle to catch a giant marlin. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and is considered a classic of modern literature.
- A Farewell to Arms - a semi-autobiographical account of Hemingway's experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I. It is a love story between an American soldier and an English nurse set against the backdrop of the war.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls - a novel set during the Spanish Civil War and tells the story of an American dynamiter who is fighting with the Republicans against the Nationalists. It is considered one of Hemingway's best works and was a bestseller upon its release in 1940.
- The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway's first major work, tells the story of a group of expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain. It is a portrayal of the Lost Generation, a group of young people who were disillusioned after World War I and rejected traditional values.
- The Snows of Kilimanjaro - a short story, which was first published in Esquire magazine in 1936, is about a writer named Harry who reflects on his life as he lies dying on a safari in Africa. It is one of Hemingway's most popular and enduring short stories.
After Hemingway and Mary moved from Cuba to Idaho in 1960., he was constantly haunted by suicidal thoughts. Therapy didn't help him either, it only contributed to occasional memory loss. Various paranoias, accompanied by depression, became an integral part of his life. He committed suicide on July 2, 1961, by shooting himself in the head with a rifle in front of the front door of his house. News of his death spread quickly. His family members organized a funeral where many people were present.
Summaries, Analyses & Books