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Enrest Hemingway

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Enrest Hemingway
Born:
July 21, 1899, Oak Park, Illinois
Died: July 2, 1961, Ketchum, Idaho

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born into an affluent family in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, on July 21, 1899, the eldest of six children. His father, Clarence Edmond, was a physician.

 
Ernest Miller Hemingway

His mother, the former Grace Hall, kept an attractive house at 439 North Oak Park Avenue, her father’s dwelling, into which her husband moved and lived until her father’s death in 1905. Grace exposed her son Ernest to the arts by taking him to museums in Chicago and by enrolling him in piano lessons. Hemingway, as both son and writer, frequently rebelled against her puritanical values. As a student at Oak Park High School, from which Hemingway graduated in 1917, he contributed to the school newspaper and other publications. Upon graduation, he realized that he would soon be in some way drawn into World War I.

His first job, as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, was cut short when, after being rejected for military service because of weak eyesight, he enlisted as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross early in 1918 and was sent to Italy. On July 8, 1918, Hemingway, who served with some heroism, was wounded by mortar fire at Fossalta di Piave. He was hospitalized for an extended period, and when he returned to the United States, the dashing, dark-haired Hemingway was considered a conquering hero and was in great demand to speak before civic groups about his war experience. He was lionized for his heroism. After recuperating at his family’s summer home in Michigan, Hemingway became a reporter for the Toronto Star and Star Weekly, which sent him to Europe as a foreign correspondent in 1921, shortly after his marriage to Hadley Richardson.

The two settled in Paris, where they met many of the foremost contributors to Europe’s avant-garde artistic scene. Among his Parisian associates Hemingway numbered Sherwood Anderson, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and, perhaps most significant, Gertrude Stein. It was from Stein that he learned the elements of literary style that were later to affect his writing most directly. Hemingway began to write short stories and, in 1923, published Three Stories and Ten Poemsin Paris, followed the next year by In Our Time, a collection of short stories, which was republished in 1925 in the United States. By then, Hemingway was beginning to move away from reporting and full-time into his career.

In 1926, he published The Torrents of Spring and his renowned novel of the so-called lost generation, The Sun Also Rises, with Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York, which remained his publisher for all but one of his later books. The Sun Also Rises established Hemingway’s early reputation, although real commercial success evaded him for another two years until A Farewell to Arms appeared in 1929. Both books showcase his strength: writing about men who responded to adversity in a way that he defined as courageous. For Hemingway, courage was showing grace under pressure. Men Without Women appeared in 1927, the year in which Hemingway divorced Hadley and married Pauline Pfeiffer. In 1928, Hemingway decided to return to the United States. He and Pauline used their house in Key West, Florida, as their base until 1939, although their stays there were interrupted by frequent travel, particularly from 1936 to 1938, when Hemingway went to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance.

The Key West years were productive ones for Hemingway. He was happy there and began his extensive adventures as a sport fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. These were much more elaborate excursions than his cherished childhood fishing and hunting trips with his father in northern Michigan. At about this time, Hemingway, who had experienced the running of the bulls at Pamplona, began to develop his lifelong interest in bullfighting. His book on the subject, Death in the Afternoon, appeared in 1932, his first to depart from the war theme that had come for many to define his writing. His major concern therein, however, is still grace under pressure.

Ever seeking new adventures, Hemingway took his first African safari in 1933-1934; during these travels he also revisited Spain and France. His Green Hills of Africa, published in 1935, resulted from this, his first of many African ventures. Back in Key West after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1938, Hemingway was restless, and in 1939, he bought a house, called Finca Vigia, outside Havana, Cuba, and moved there. Hemingway’s obsession with adventure and with proving his masculinity-clear motivations for many of his more daring adventures-made him difficult to live with; in 1940, Pauline divorced him. In the same year, For Whom the Bell Tolls was published, and Hemingway married newswoman Martha Gellhorn, several years his senior, whom he regarded subconsciously as a mother figure, as he may have done all his wives. His resentment of his own mother is often said to have manifested itself in his marriages, directed against the women he chose to marry.

With the entry of the United States into World War II, Hemingway again went to Europe as a war correspondent. He participated in the Allied Normandy invasion, hatched a personal scheme to liberate Paris, and attached himself to the Fourth Infantry Division, somewhat against the will of its officers. When Hemingway returned to Cuba during the war, he became a self-appointed antisubmarine operative, sailing into the ocean on his yacht to spot enemy submarines and disable any he encountered. The U.S. government was embarrassed by Hemingway’s unsolicited help. His literary production declined during this period, and his drinking was out of control. When Martha Gellhorn divorced him in 1944, he quickly married Mary Welsh, who would remain his wife until Hemingway, seeking the same solution to his problems that his father had earlier, committed suicide in 1961.

Hemingway’s artistic end seemed imminent in 1950 when his novel Across the River and into the Trees was poorly received by critics and the public alike; however, he rallied from that defeat and, in 1952, published one of his most popular works, the novella The Old Man and the Sea. About a year after the book was published, Hemingway survived two airplane crashes in Africa. Reported dead, he eventually charged out of the bush with a bottle of whiskey in his hand. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature but, because of his injuries, could not attend the awards ceremony. His Nobel citation, even though the prize is for the full body of his literary work, specifically cited The Old Man and the Sea as exemplifying that which the award seeks to honor in literature. When Cuba fell to Fidel Castro in 1959, Hemingway bought his final residence, a house in Ketchum, Idaho. He moved there in 1959, the same year in which he began treatments for depression and various physical ills at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His despondence over his declining health and over his inability to write as well as he once had led him to end his life on July 2, 1961, by putting a twelve-gauge shotgun into his mouth and pulling the trigger.

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