Ernest Hemingway biography
American novelist and short-story writer, whose style is characterized by crispness, realistic dialogue, and emotional understatement. His use of deliberately uncomplicated vocabulary, sentence structure, and paragraph structure makes his style distinctive and poweful. His writings and his personal life exerted a profound influence on American writers of his time, and many of his works are regarded as classics of American literature.
Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on July 21, 1899, and educated at his local high school. He became a reporter for the Kansas City Star, but left his job within a few months to serve as a volunteer ambulance driver in Italy during World War I, at the age of 18. He later transferred to the Italian infantry and was seriously wounded. After the war he was a correspondent for the Toronto Star and then settled in Paris. While there, he was encouraged and influenced in creative work by the American expatriate writers Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. After 1927 Hemingway spent long periods of time in Key West, Florida, and in Spain and Africa. During the Spanish Civil War, he returned to Spain as a newspaper correspondent. In World War II he was again a correspondent and later was a reporter for the United States First Army; although he was not a soldier, he participated in several battles. After the war Hemingway settled near Havana; around 1958 the Cuban revolution forced him to return to the United States. He died in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 2, 1961, from self-inflicted gunshot wounds after years of depression and, latterly, paranoia.
In his early works Hemingway depicted the lives of two types of people. The first consisted of men and women deprived, by World War I, of faith in the moral values in which they had believed, and who lived with cynical disregard for anything but their own emotional needs. The second type were men of simple character and primitive emotions, such as prizefighters and bullfighters. Hemingway wrote of their courageous and usually futile battles against circumstances. His earliest works include collections of short stories: Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), his first work; In Our Time (1924), tales reflecting his youth; and Men Without Women (1927), a volume that included “The Killers”, remarkable for its description of impending doom. Winner Take Nothing (1933) contains stories such as “Today is Friday” in which two Roman soldiers discuss the crucifixion over wine.
The novel that established his reputation, The Sun Also Rises (1926), is the story of a group of aimless Americans and Britons living in France and Spain, members of the lost generation of the post-World War I period. In 1929 Hemingway published his second important novel, A Farewell to Arms, the deeply moving story of a love affair in wartime Italy between an American in the Italian ambulance service and a British nurse. It was followed by two non-fiction works, Death in the Afternoon (1932), prose pieces mainly about bullfighting; and Green Hills of Africa (1935), accounts of big-game hunting.
In his writing, Hemingway began by exploring themes of helplessness and defeat, but in the late 1930s he began to express concern for social problems. His novel To Have and Have Not (1937) and his play The Fifth Column (1938), celebrating “the nobility and dignity of the Spanish people in the Spanish Civil War”, strongly condemned economic and political injustices. Two of his best short stories, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, are published alongside the play in The First Forty-Nine Hours and Other Stories (1938). In the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), based on his experiences of the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway argued that the loss of liberty anywhere in the world should be a warning to all that liberty is endangered everywhere. This novel was his most successful work in terms of number of books sold, and commanded a then unprecedented sum for the film rights. During the next decade his only literary efforts were Men at War: the Best War Stories of All Time (1942), which he edited, and the novel Across the River and into the Trees (1950), about a World War I veteran returning to the battlefield where he was wounded.
In 1952 Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea, a powerful, short, heroic novel about an aged Cuban fisherman, for which he won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Hemingway later said of this work that it was “poetry written into prose” and was “the hardest of all things to do”. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. The last work published in his lifetime was Collected Poems (1960). His posthumously published books include A Moveable Feast (1964), an account of his early years in Paris; Byline: Ernest Hemingway (1967), selected newspaper articles and dispatches; Ernest Hemingway, Cub Reporter: Kansas City Star Stories (1970); Islands in the Stream (1970), a sea novel; The Nick Adams Stories (1972), initially featured in In Our Time and establishing the prototypical Hemingway hero; and the unfinished The Garden of Eden (1986). Hemingway’s Selected Letters 1917-1961 were published in 1981.
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