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Ernest Hemingway – American writer

Ernest Hemingway was an American writer. He was born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. He committed suicide in 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho (Burges 17). Even today Hemingway is one of the most recognized authors in the world. Hemingway’s experiences during World War I are directly shown in many of his works. His general outlook on life is reflected in the adventures of his characters. It is clear that Hemingway had a desire to be part of the war even though, due to bad vision he was unable to enlist in the army and fight in the war. Instead he lied about his age and went to Italy to become an ambulance driver.

While in Italy he experienced many things that he would later go on to write about in works such as A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bells Toll. Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21st, 1899 in Oak Park, IL. He was the second of six children born to Grace Hall Hemingway, an aspiring opera singer, who gave up a career for marriage and six children. His father, Clarence Edmunds Hemingway, was a family physician and avid outdoorsmen. Clarence shared his love for the outdoors with his young son, Ernest, who found a liking for the outdoors from a young age.

His first trip to the great outdoors was when he was just six weeks old. The Hemingway family and Ernest’s nurse went to Lake Walloon in upper Michigan each summer. Perhaps it was this early exposure to nature that fostered Hemingway’s sense of adventure (Baker 45). During Hemingway’s sixty- two years he was married four times. First to Elizabeth Hadley Richardson on September 3,1921. During their six-year marriage they lived in Paris, where Ernest was a war correspondent for the Toronto Star. Elizabeth’s trust fund made their life much easier. Their marriage ended in 1927.

Shortly after his divorce from Hadley, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. He and Pfeiffer lived in Key West for the majority of their marriage. In 1940 Hemingway would marry fellow war correspondent Martha Ellis Greenhorn. This would be his shortest marriage, lasting only five years. His final marriage was on March, 14, 1946 to Mary Welsh Monks They were married for fourteen years, during which they lived at Hemingway’s Lookout Farm in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba (Hemingway 34). When the call went out that ambulance drivers for the war were needed, Hemingway, a recent high school graduate volunteered immediately.

He said ” I wanted to go, my country needed me and I went and did what I was told”(Hemingway). Hemingway was sent to Italy. While at post one night Hemingway was first wounded by an Austrian mortar shell, then the same night he was further wounded by machine gun fire while he was carrying an Italian soldier to safety. Though badly wounded his injuries were not fatal; all his injures where contained to his legs (www. timelesshemingway. com). Hemingway spent five days in a field hospital before an excruciating train trip to Milan.

In Milan things took an upward turn when surgery was successful. Hemingway was regarded as a hero and reported in newspapers and newsreels at home as the first American wounded in Italy (TimelessHemingway 2). It is debatable whether this was true but no matter, Hemingway was enjoying himself. World War One was the setting of many of Hemingway’s stories. He used his personal experiences as their basis but enhanced them greatly. In 1929 Hemingway published A Farewell to Arms; the novel that many critics consider to be the best ever written about World War One (Burgess 56).

It is based on Hemingway’s personal experiences during the war. The main character, Lt. Frederic Henry, is wounded, just as Hemingway was. He is hospitalized and falls in love with a nurse. Hemingway also fell in love with his wartime nurse. But Hemingway took the characters further than his wartime experience. He created action from later experiences. He was very good at putting things together. He made up whatever he needed to suit his purposes (Hemingway 87). If the actual events worked, he stuck closely to actual events.

He rarely created “events or character for which he could not draw upon a reservior of actual perceptions”. (ww. cs. umb. edu) For Whom the Bells Tolls is another one of Hemingways more famous novels that is based on his own personal war experience. This story is about an American who is fighting in the Spanish Civil War against fascism (Baker 120). The Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936. Hemingway sided with the loyalists and followed the war with great interest. In 1937 he went to Spain to cover the war for the North American Newspaper Alliance (WWW. CS. UMB. EDU).

Not only did Hemingway use his war experiences to write For whom The Bell Tolls but he also wrote seven short stories and the play The Fifth Column based on his war time in Spain (Contemporary Authors). Many critics agree that For Whom the Bell tolls is Hemingway’s greatest work. For Whom The Bell Tolls and A Farewell To Arms changed the way modern literature is written, “as Hemingway proved that simple, yet beautiful text is effective”(Baker 75). Both these books are important to understanding our past (www. timelesshemingway. com). As a lifelong sportsman, Hemingway’s writing was greatly influenced by this aspect of his life.

In 1933 his second wife, Pauline’s rich uncle gave them a safari to Africa. Hemingway totally immersed himself in the preparation for the trip. The trip was only ten weeks but greatly effected all aspects of his life. “Everything he saw seemed to have made an indelible impression on him”(Hemingway 103). He used his experiences as the basis for a nonfiction book about big game hunting called Green Hills of Africa and also for some of his best short stories including “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” (Baker 78) Hemingway saw his first bullfight in Madrid, Spain in 1923 and he was immediately hooked.

Apparently in typical Hemingway fashion set out to make himself an expert on the sport. He collected and saved everything he could about bullfighting, including ticket stubs newspapers, postcards, programs and posters. In 1932 he wrote a treatise on bullfighting called Death in the Afternoon. This is still the most comprehensive study of the sport in the English language (Burgess 105). This very intensive interest in a subject was typical of Hemingway. He had a “natural, sometimes almost competitive, tendency to find out everything he could about any subject that interested him”(www. timelesshemingway. com)

The critics and the public were fascinated by Hemingway’s larger than life lifestyle. It was a given that his writing was all based on himself and his experiences. Hemingway professed to resent this. “I want to run as a writer: not as a man who had been in wars; nor a bar room fighter; nor a shooter; nor a drinker. I would like to be a straight writer and be judged as such”(www. cs. umb. edu). Hemingway wrote this in 1950 but at the same time he enjoyed his celebrity and encouraged it. In 1951 Hemingway started to write a story that when finished he felt was “the best I can write ever for all of my life.

It will destroy the criticism that claims I can write about notheing except myself and my own experiences. “(Baker 67) The story he would write was eventually called The Old Man and The Sea. This was a story that he had been thinking about since he first heard it in 1935. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman who fought a swordfish for four days and nights only to lose it to sharks. It was first published as a story called “On The Blue Water” in Esquire. Then it became the novella, The Old Man and The Sea. It was published in Life and was a Book-of-the Month selection (Baker 174).

At this point his celebrity really took off but his personal life seemed to come apart. Hemingway achieved many great things in his life such as being honored with the Nobel prize for literature and being recognized in the media as the first American wounded in Italy. He was a lonely and unhappy man. His wife and mother had died and he was in ill health. In July of 1961 he took his own life with a shotgun blast to his head (Hemingway 165). Hemingway was one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century whose stories and legacy will always live on.

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