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Ernest Hemingway

(1899-1961)

from "Fields of Vision by D.Delaney”


Life

An early call to action and writing The second of six children, Hemingway was born in 1899 in Chicago. As a child he loved physical challenges, and throughout high school he played football and boxed. After graduating he moved to Kansas City to work as a junior reporter for a local newspaper. During the First World War he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. He was sent to the Italian front, where he was severely wounded. He was treated in a hospital in Milan, where he fell in love with a nurse. These experiences later inspired his novel A Farewell To Arms. After the war Hemingway returned home as a war hero and was decorated for his courage.

He went back to journalism and worked for a Canadian newspaper for which he covered the Greco-Turkish War in 1920. He married the following year. It was the first of four marriages that produced three sons.

Success and adventure  In the 1920s the Hemingways lived in Paris, were they entered the intellectually dynamic circle of expatriate authors and artists that included Francis Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. This was a time of stylistic development for Hemingway, and an extremely productive period that culminated in the widely successful novel The Sun Also Rises (1926). In 1928 Hemingway settled in Key West, Florida. Here he completed A Farewell to Arms, published to wide acclaim in 1929. The movie rights of the novel were sold for $24,000, an enormous sum of money for the time. Looking for new emotions and inspiration, he spent some time in Africa in 1933 and 1934. The experience provided him with material for the novel Green Hill of Africa (1935) and his most famous short story, The Snow of Kilimanjaro (1936).

In the late 1930s, Hemingway went to cover the Spanish Civil War as a correspondent for an American news agency, and this experience was recorded in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which sold 500,000 copies in the first five months following its publication. His work as a war correspondent continued during the Second World War.

Mental and physical decline In 1946 Hemingway settled with his third wife in Cuba. After the disappointing response to his 1950 novel, Across the River and into the Trees, Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea (1952), the story of an elderly fishrman’s lonely struggle with a fish and the sea, and his victory in defeat. The book was an instant success. It won the Pulitzer Prize and ultimately let to the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature. However, Hemingway was unable to attend the prize ceremonies: his health was deteriorating and he had turned to heavy drinking. Afflicted by physical and mental health problems, he produced no new works in the final years of his life. On July 2nd 1961 he committed suicide at the age of sixty-one.

Works

An American icon Hemingway, the hard-living writer-adventurer, was hero and correspondent, womanizer and excessive drinker, is one of the greatest American literary icons.

Experience-based stories As a writer, he drew heavily upon his own personal experiences: his involvement in the wars, his extensive travels, and his love for the primitive emotions inspired by fishing, hunting and bullfighting. Hemingway’s characters are often like himself: lonely heroes whose courage and independence do not guarantee victory. In Hemingway’s work, defeat is an integral part of the human condition.

His literary style Hemingway’s literary style was shaped early in his career when he worked as a reporter in Kansas City. Writing about small events for small-town people taught him to use the sparse, straightforward, unemotional and yet vigorous prose that is his trademark. The essence of his talent lies in his unmatched ability to concentrate actions and events in simple yet powerful sentences where there is no space for wordy descriptions or sentimentality. The focus of his writing is always on facts. He believed that if a writer could accurately describe the facts that cause emotion, it was unnecessary for him to describe emotion.

Other elements of Hemingway’s style include his use of interior monologue and nature symbolism. In A Farewell to Arms, for example, rain represents death and all the connected feelings of pain and despair. After the death of the female protagonist, the book ends with the words "I … walked back to the hotel in the rain.”

Hemingway’s literary style had a great impact on the writers who followed him, and was taken to a more extreme level by the American minimalists of the 1980s. 

External Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway         

 
 
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