Excerpt from The Sun Also Rises
Published in 1926
One of the most influential authors of the twentieth century, Hemingway was a leading figure among the famous U.S. expatriates (people who live outside of their home countries) who lived in Paris during the Roaring Twenties. As a young man who had participated and been wounded in World War I (1914–1918; the United States entered the conflict in 1917), Hemingway both embodied and voiced the viewpoint of the disillusioned postwar generation. His work is characterized by a spare, succinct writing style with a distinctively modern feel that, especially in the 1920s, presented a strong contrast to the ornate prose of the nineteenth century.
"I thought of her walking up the street and stepping into the car, as I had last seen her, and of course in a little while I felt like hell again. It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing."
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Hemingway was influenced by both his physician father, who introduced him to the joys of the outdoors, and his music-loving, rather domineering mother. Each year the family vacationed on a lake in northern Michigan, which would provide a wealth of material for Hemingway's fiction. In high school, he wrote articles for his school newspaper and also took part in athletics. After graduation, he tried to volunteer for military service in World War I, but was rejected due to poor vision. Instead of attending college, as his parents wished, he got a job as a reporter for the Kansas City Star newspaper. There Hemingway began to develop the clipped, concise writing style that would characterize his later work.
Unable to stay away from the war, Hemingway enlisted in the medical service of the Red Cross and was sent to Italy to serve as an ambulance driver. In that role he experienced the devastation and brutality of war first-hand. After being wounded in the knee, he managed to carry another man to safety; later, doctors removed two hundred pieces of shrapnel (jagged pieces of metal from an exploded bomb) from his legs and body. Hemingway subsequently enlisted in the Italian army and spent some more time fighting before returning to the United States. He lived for almost a year with his parents in Oak Park, writing and speaking in public about his war experiences.
Finally Hemingway was hired as a foreign correspondent by the Toronto Star newspaper. With his new wife, Hadley Richardson, he moved to Paris and soon became part of a group of U.S. writers who were living there, including poet Ezra Pound (1885–1972) and novelists Gertrude Stein (1872–1946) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940). Hemingway's first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published in 1923, followed by a collection of short stories titled In Our Time (1925). The second book features one of Hemingway's best known characters, Nick Adams.
The Sun Also Rises was published in May 1926, after Hemingway had returned to the United States. It opens with a quote from Gertrude Stein: "You are all a lost generation." Although Hemingway later said that he had not intended to define anyone, both the quote and the novel were interpreted as expressing the plight of those who had come of age just before, during, or after World War I. Several of the novel's characters are, like Hemingway, disillusioned veterans of the fighting who sustained physical or emotional damage (or both). All of them are now living a morally bankrupt existence of joyless drinking, dancing, and shifting sexual liaisons.
The novel is narrated by Jake Barnes, whose injury in the war resulted in impotence (the inability to function sexually). He is in love with Lady Brett Ashley, a young English woman who, after losing her fiancé in the war, married another
Gertrude Stein: An Expatriate and Modernist
Unconventional and highly intellectual, Gertrude Stein was a Roaring Twenties figure known both for her experimental literary works and as a hostess and mentor to U.S. and British expatriates. Expatriates are those who live outside of their native countries, and during the 1920s many flocked to Paris, France.
Born in 1874, in Oakland, California, Stein was the youngest child of a wealthy Jewish family. She attended noted women's college Radcliffe University and then Johns Hopkins University. Stein first studied psychiatry before determining her primary interest in literature.
After traveling around Europe and Africa with her brother Leo, Stein and her brother settled in an apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris in 1903. The apartment became a gathering place, or "salon," for artists and writers. The Steins' friends and guests included such famous painters as Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso, who painted a well-known portrait of Stein. Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob, young writers, were also frequent visitors.
In 1909 Stein took on a companion and secretary, California native Alice B. Toklas. That same year, Stein published her first book, Three Lives, which contained short novels about the lives of three female characters. Tender Buttons (1914), a collection of prose poems written in a distinctly modern style, was Stein's next work.
During World War I, Stein and Toklas remained in war-torn Paris, and Stein volunteered as a medical supply driver. After the war, U.S. writers and artists arrived in Paris, seeking refuge from a society they considered intolerant and materialistic. Stein welcomed them into her salon, especially the novelist and short story writer Ernest Hemingway, who quoted her in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises as having said, "You are all a lost generation." Other members of Stein's circle included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Edith Sitwell.
Stein's literary works during the 1920s included the novel, The Making of Americans (1925). This complex work chronicles three generations of a German-American family similar to the Steins. It reflects Stein's interest in delving beneath the surface of personality, as well as her unconventional approach to writing. Her style features long sentences made up of simple words, with no punctuation other than periods. This kind of experimentation with form and content made her writing both purely modern and inaccessible to most readers. Nevertheless, her work was much appreciated by a small, sophisticated audience.
In the 1930s Stein published books of memoirs, plays, art criticism, and literary theory. Her most famous book was the bestselling, widely acclaimed Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which actually tells the story of Stein's life. Stein and Toklas stayed in France during World War II. After Paris was liberated from Nazi (German) occupation, Stein resumed her famous salon. She died of cancer in 1946.
man purely for the wealth and aristocratic title he could provide. She is now engaged to Mike Campbell, an alcoholic with few prospects and a brutal nature. Brett returns Jake's love, but she cannot do without the sexual relations he is unable to offer. The Sun Also Rises chronicles the characters' interactions in both Paris and Spain, where they travel to attend the yearly running of the bulls and the bullfighting spectacular. By the end of the novel, nothing has changed.
In the first part of this excerpt, Jake and Brett ride in a taxicab to join friends at a Paris nightclub. Their strong attraction to each other is evident, but it becomes clear to the reader that their relationship is doomed by Jake's inadequacy. In the second part, Jake goes to be alone after leaving Brett with her friends. He thinks about his injury, then goes to sleep. Later Brett arrives for a visit, eventually leaving Jake alone with his sad thoughts.
Things to remember while reading this excerpt from The Sun Also Rises …
The novel is laced with references to a number of dominant issues and trends of the Roaring Twenties, including the expatriate movement, Prohibition (the Constitutional ban on alcohol, which the characters can ignore since they live outside of the United States), women's changing roles, and especially the effects of World War I. The first armed conflict to include such effective weapons as machine guns, airplanes that could drop bombs, and trench warfare, this war shocked the whole world with its toll of death and destruction. Evidence of both physical and emotional damage are evident in the character of Jake Barnes, the novel's protagonist.
The early part of the novel chronicles the characters' relentless merrymaking as they drink and dance their way around Paris. It soon becomes clear, however, that they find little joy in these pursuits and that their lives are actually meaningless and bleak.
In her pursuit of pleasure, her independence, and her appearance—featuring short hair and a man's hat pulled low on her forehead—Lady Brett Ashley embodies a new kind of woman that was beginning to emerge in the Roaring Twenties. Unlike the women of earlier decades, she drinks as much as the men around her, and seeks sexual satisfaction with a variety of partners, even rejecting Jake's love because he cannot perform sexually.
Excerpt from The Sun Also Rises
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What happened next …
Following the success of The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway went on to write another acclaimed novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929). This book tells the story of an American ambulance driver wounded in Italy during World War I, whose idyllic love affair with an English nurse ends with her death. During the 1930s, Hemingway published two nonfiction works, Death in the Afternoon (1932), about bullfighting, and The Green Hills of Africa (1935), about his travels on that continent. Later novels include To Have and Have Not (1937), which centers on characters affected by the Great Depression (the period of economic downturn and widespread hardship that lasted from late 1929 until the early 1940s). For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) was inspired by Hemingway's experiences as a correspondent for Collier's magazine during the Spanish Civil War. During World War II (1941–45), Hemingway served as both a reporter and a military volunteer.
Having divorced his first wife in 1927, Hemingway soon married Pauline Pfeiffer. While living in Key West, Florida, during the 1930s, Hemingway met Martha Gelhorn, with whom he carried on a secret affair for four years before divorcing Pfeiffer and marrying her. He and his new wife moved to Havana, Cuba, where Hemingway spent much of his time fishing. This setting and occupation provided material for one of his best novels, The Old Man and the Sea. This story of a Cuban fisherman's heroic struggle with a shark earned Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. The next year, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Hemingway's final years were marred by physical illness and injury as well as emotional strain. After divorcing Gelhorn, Hemingway had married Mary Welsh and moved with her to Ketchum, Idaho. About a year after treatment for depression and other ailments proved ineffective, Hemingway killed himself with a shotgun in July 1961. Since his death, Hemingway's work has been faulted by some as shallow, excessively violent, and demeaning to women. Most commentators, however, acknowledge Hemingway's influence on the writers of the later twentieth century, many of whom have imitated his spare narrative style.
Did You Know …
- Hemingway was passionately interested in the sport of bullfighting, which plays a prominent role in The Sun Also Rises. One of the few admirable characters in The Sun Also Rises is the young bullfighter Pedro Romero, whose skill, bravery, and good looks attract Lady Brett Ashley. Hemingway's knowledge of bullfighting rituals and figures is evident not only in this novel but in his nonfiction work, Death in the Afternoon (1932).
- The novel's narrator, Jake Barnes, resembles his creator in other ways. Like Hemingway in the early 1920s, Jake is a veteran wounded in World War I and an expatriate journalist living in Paris. He also shares the author's appreciation for drinking, bullfighting, and fishing, and he speaks in the same unadorned style in which Hemingway writes.
Consider this …
- On their way to watch the bullfights in Pamplona, Spain, Jake and his friend Bill Gorton spend some time fishing in that country's Basque region. How does this section present a different view of relationships than the other parts of the book?
- To learn more about Hemingway's life in Paris in the 1920s, read his posthumously (after death) published memoir A Moveable Feast (1964). Share what you've learned through a book report or other project.
For More Information
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. Philadelphia: Scribner, 1969.
Baker, Carlos, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Critiques of Four Major Novels. Philadelphia: Scribner, 1962.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.
Hunter-Gillespie, Connie. Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Piscatway, NJ: Research and Education Association, 1996.
Lynn, Kenneth Schuyler. Hemingway. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.
McDaniel, Melissa. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Chelsea House, 1996.
Nagel, Jems, ed. Critical Essays on Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. New York: G. K. Hall, 1995.
Rovit, Earl R. Ernest Hemingway. Boston: Twayne, 1963.
Tessitore, John. The Hunt and the Feast: A Life of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996.
Wylder, Delbert. Hemingway's Heroes. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1969.
Yannuzzi, Della A. Ernest Hemingway: Writer and Adventurer. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1998.
Ernest Hemingway. Available online at http://www.ernest.hemingway.com/. Accessed on June 20, 2005.
"Ernest Hemingway—Biography." Nobelprize.org. Available online at http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1954/hemingway-bio.html. Accessed on June 20, 2005.
Ernest Miller Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway (1898-1961), American Nobel Prize-winning author, was one of the most celebrated and influential literary stylists of the 20th century.
Ernest Hemingway was a legend in his own life-time— in a sense, a legend of his own making. He worked hard at being a composite of all the manly attributes he gave to his fictional heroes—a hard drinker, big-game hunter, fearless soldier, amateur boxer, and bullfight aficionado. Because the man and his fiction often seemed indistinguishable, critics have had difficulty judging his work objectively. His protagonists—virile and laconic—have been extravagantly praised and vehemently denounced. In his obsession with violence and death, the Hemingway creation has been rivaled only by the Byronic myth of the 19th century. Despite sensational publicity and personal invective, Hemingway now ranks among America's great writers. His critical stature rests solidly upon a small body of exceptional writing, distinguished for its stylistic purity, emotional veracity, moral integrity, and dramatic intensity of vision.
Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Ill., on July 21, 1898. His father was a country physician, who taught his son hunting and fishing; his mother was a religiously puritanical woman, active in church affairs, who led her boy to play the cello and sing in the choir. Hemingway's early years were spent largely in combating the repressive feminine influence of his mother and nurturing the masculine influence of his father. He spent the summers with his family in the woods of northern Michigan, where he often accompanied his father on professional calls. The discovery of his father's apparent cowardice, later depicted in the short story "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," and his suicide several years later left the boy with an emotional scar.
Despite the intense pleasure Hemingway derived from outdoor life, and his popularity in high school—where he distinguished himself as a scholar and athlete—he ran away from home twice. However, his first real chance for escape came in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. He volunteered for active service in the infantry but was rejected because of eye trouble.
After spending several months as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, Hemingway enlisted in the Red Cross medical service, driving an ambulance on the Italian front. He was badly wounded in the knee at Fossalta di Piave; yet, still under heavy mortar fire, he carried a wounded man on his back a considerable distance to the aid station. After having over 200 shell fragments removed from his legs and body, Hemingway next enlisted in the Italian infantry, served on the Austrian front until the armistice, and was decorated for bravery by the Italian government.
Learning His Trade
Shortly after the war Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent in the Near East for the Toronto Star. When he returned to Michigan, he had already decided to commit himself to fiction writing. His excellent journalism and the publication in magazines of several experimental short stories had impressed the well-known author Sherwood Anderson, who, when Hemingway decided to return to Europe, gave him letters of introduction to expatriates Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. Hemingway and his bride, Hadley Richardson, journeyed to Paris, where he served his literary apprenticeship under these two prominent authors. Despite the abject poverty in which he and his wife lived, these were the happiest years of Hemingway's life, as well as the most artistically fruitful.
In 1923 Hemingway published his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems. The poems are insignificant, but the stories give strong indication of his emerging genius. "Out of Season" already contains the psychological tension and moral ambivalence characteristic of his mature work. With In Our Time (1925) Hemingway's years of apprenticeship ended. In this collection of stories, he drew on his experiences while summering in Michigan to depict the initiation into the world of pain and violence of young Nick Adams, a prototype for later Hemingway heroes. The atrocities he had witnessed as a journalist in the Near East became the brief vignettes about intense suffering that formed inter chapters for the collection. One story, "Indian Camp," which sets the tone for the entire volume, has Nick accompanying his father, Dr. Adams, on a call during which the physician performs a caesarean operation with no anesthetic. They discover afterward that the squaw's husband, unable to bear his wife's screams, has killed himself by nearly severing his head with a razor. The story is written in Hemingway's characteristically terse, economic prose. "The End of Something" and "The Three Day Blow" deal with Nick's disturbed reaction to the end of a love affair. "The Big Two hearted River" describes a young man just returned from war and his desperate attempt to prevent mental breakdown.
Hemingway returned to the United States in 1926 with the manuscripts of two novels and several short stories. The Torrents of Spring (1926), a parody of Sherwood Anderson, was written very quickly, largely for the purpose of breaking his contract with Boni and Liveright, who was also Anderson's publisher. That May, Scribner's issued Hemingway's second novel, The Sun Also Rises. This novel, the major statement of the "lost generation," describes a group of expatriate Americans and Englishmen, all of whom have suffered physically and emotionally during the war; their aimless existence vividly expresses the spiritual bankruptcy and moral atrophy of an entire generation. Hemingway's second volume of short stories, Men without Women (1927), contains "The Killers," about a man who refuses to run from gangsters determined to kill him; "The Light of the World," dealing with Nick Adams's premature introduction to the sickening world of prostitution and homosexuality; and "The Undefeated," concerning an aging bullfighter whose courage and dedication constitute a moral victory in the face of physical defeat and death.
In December 1929 A Farewell to Arms was published. This novel tells the story of a tragically terminated love affair between an American soldier and an English nurse, starkly silhouetted against the bleakness of war and a collapsing world order. It contains a philosophical expression of the Hemingway code of stoical endurance in a violent age: "The world breaks everyone," reflects the protagonist, "and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that it will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure that it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry."
Hemingway revealed his passionate interest in bull-fighting in Death in the Afternoon (1932), a humorous and inventive nonfiction study. In 1933 Scribner's published his final collection of short stories, Winner Take Nothing. This volume, containing his most bitter and disillusioned writing, deals almost exclusively with emotional breakdown, impotence, and homosexuality.
Hemingway's African safari in 1934 provided the material for another nonfiction work, The Green Hills of Africa (1935), as well as two of his finest short stories, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Both stories concern attainment of self-realization and moral integrity through contact with fear and death.
Hemingway wrote To Have and Have Not (1937) in response to the 1930s depression. The novel, inadequately conceived and poorly executed, deals with a Florida smuggler whose illegal activities and frequent brutalities mask his sense of ethics and strength of character. Mortally wounded by the gangsters with whom he has been dealing, the individualistic hero comes to the startling realization that "One man alone ain't got no—chance."
The chief political catalyst in Hemingway's life was the Spanish Civil War. In 1936 he had returned to Spain as a newspaper reporter and participated in raising funds for the Spanish Republic until the war's end in 1939. In 1937 he collaborated on the documentary film The Spanish Earth. Hemingway's only writing during this period was a play, The Fifth Column (1936; produced in New York in 1940), a sincere but dramatically ineffective attempt to portray the conditions prevailing during the siege of Madrid.
Seventeen months after that war ended, Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). His most ambitious novel, it describes an American professor's involvement with a loyalist guerrilla band and his brief, idyllic love affair with a Spanish girl. A vivid, intelligently conceived narrative, it is written in less lyrical and more dramatic prose than his earlier work. Hemingway deliberately avoided having the book used as propaganda, despite its strained attempt at an affirmative resolution, by carefully balancing fascist atrocities with a heartless massacre by a peasant mob.
Following the critical and popular success of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway lapsed into a literary silence that lasted a full decade and was largely the result of his strenuous, frequently reckless, activities during World War II. In 1942 as a Collier's correspondent with the 3d Army, he witnessed some of the bloodiest battles in Europe. Although he served in no official capacity, he commanded a personal battalion of over 200 troops and was granted the respect and privileges normally accorded a general. At this time he received the affectionate appellation of "Papa" from his admirers, both military and literary.
In 1944 while in London, Hemingway met and soon married Mary Welsh, a Time reporter. His three previous marriages—to Hadley Richardson, mother of one son; to Pauline Pfeiffer, mother of his second and third sons; and to Martha Gelhorn—had all ended in divorce. Following the war, Hemingway and his wife purchased a home, Finca Vigia, near Havana, Cuba. Hemingway's only literary work was some anecdotal articles for Esquire; the remainder of his time was spent fishing, hunting, battling critics, and providing copy for gossip columnists. In 1950 he ended his literary silence with Across the River and into the Trees, a narrative, flawed by maudlin self-pity, about a retired Army colonel dying of a heart condition in Venice and his dreamy love affair with a pubescent girl.
Hemingway's remarkable gift for recovery once again asserted itself in 1952 with the appearance of a novella about an extraordinary battle between a tired old Cuban fisherman and a giant marlin. The Old Man and the Sea, immediately hailed a masterpiece, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Although lacking the emotional tensions of his longer works, this novella possesses a generosity of spirit and reverence for life which make it an appropriate conclusion for Hemingway's career. In 1954 Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for literature.
Hemingway's rapidly deteriorating physical condition and an increasingly severe psychological disturbance drastically curtailed his literary capabilities in the last years of his life. A nostalgic journey to Africa planned by the author and his wife in 1954 ended in their plane crash over the Belgian Congo. Hemingway suffered severe burns and internal injuries from which he never fully recovered. Additional strain occurred when the revolutionary Cuban government of Fidel Castro forced the Hemingways to leave Finca Vigía. After only a few months in their new home in Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway was admitted to the Mayo Clinic to be treated for hypertension and emotional depression and was later treated by electroshock therapy. Scornful of an illness which humiliated him physically and impaired his writing, he killed himself with a shotgun on July 2, 1961.
Shortly after Hemingway's death, literary critic Malcolm Cowley and scholar Carlos Baker were entrusted with the task of going through the writer's remaining manuscripts to decide what material might be publishable. The first posthumous work, A Moveable Feast (1964), is an elegiac reminiscence of Hemingway's early years in Paris, containing some fine writing as well as brilliant vignettes of his famous contemporaries. A year later the Atlantic Monthly published a few insignificant short stories and two long, rambling poems. In 1967 William White edited a collection of Hemingway's best journalism under the title By-Line Ernest Hemingway.
The authorized biography of Hemingway is Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story (1969). A controversial portrait is A. E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir (1966). Among the major full-length critical studies are Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: The Writer as Artist (1952; 3d rev. ed. 1963), a textual study with emphasis on structure and symbolism; Philip Young, Ernest Hemingway (1952; rev. ed. 1966); Earl Rovit, Ernest Hemingway (1963); Richard B. Hovey, Hemingway: The Inward Terrain (1968); and Leo Gurko's more general Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism (1968).
The most valuable early critical essays on Hemingway are Edmund Wilson, "Hemingway: Gauge of Morale," in Wound and the Bow (1941); Robert Penn Warren, "Ernest Hemingway," in Selected Essays (1958); and Malcolm Cowley, "Nightmare and Ritual in Hemingway," reprinted in Robert Percy Weeks, ed., Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays (1962). The two major critical collections are John K. McCaffery, ed., Ernest Hemingway: The Man and His Work (1950), and Carlos Baker, ed., Hemingway and His Critics: An International Anthology (1961). See also the relevant sections in Joseph Warren Beach, American Fiction, 1920-1940 (1941); Edwin Berry Burgum, The Novel and the World's Dilemma (1947); Wilbur M. Frohock, The Novel of Violence in America, 1920-1950 (1950; 2d rev. ed. 1958); Frederick J. Hoffman, The Modern Novel in America, 1900-1950 (1951); and Ray B. West, The Short Story in America, 1900-1950 (1952). □
Ernest Hemingway, American Nobel Prize-winning author, was one of the most celebrated and influential literary stylists of the twentieth century. His critical reputation rests solidly upon a small body of exceptional writing, set apart by its style, emotional content, and dramatic intensity of vision.
Childhood in the Midwest
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on July 21, 1898. His father was a country physician who taught his son hunting and fishing; his mother was a religious woman, active in church affairs, who led her son to play the cello and sing in the choir. Hemingway's early years were spent largely in fighting the feminine influence of his mother while feeding off the influence of his father. He spent the summers with his family in the woods of northern Michigan, where he often accompanied his father on professional calls. The discovery of his father's apparent lack of courage, later depicted in the short story "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," and his suicide several years later left the boy with an emotional scar.
Despite the intense pleasure Hemingway took from outdoor life and his popularity in high school—where he distinguished himself as a scholar and athlete—he ran away from home twice. However, his first real chance for escape came in 1917, when the United States entered World War I (1914–18; a war in which forces clashed for European control). Eager to serve his country in the war, he volunteered for active service in the infantry (foot soldiers) but was rejected because of eye trouble.
Hemingway then enlisted in the Red Cross medical service, driving an ambulance on the Italian front. He was badly wounded in the knee yet carried a wounded man on his back a considerable distance to the aid station. After having over two hundred shell fragments (parts of bullets) removed from his legs and body, Hemingway next enlisted in the Italian infantry, served on the Austrian front until the armistice (truce), and was decorated for bravery by the Italian government. Hemingway soon returned home where he was hailed as a hero.
Learning his trade
Shortly after the war Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent in the Near East for the Toronto Star. When he returned to Michigan he had already decided to commit himself to fiction writing. His excellent journalism and the publication in magazines of several experimental short stories had impressed the well-known author Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941), who, when Hemingway decided to return toEurope, gave him letters of introduction to Gertrude Stein (1846–1946) and Ezra Pound (1885–1972)—two American writers living in Europe. Hemingway and his bride, Hadley Richardson, journeyed to Paris, where he learned much from these two well-known authors. Despite his lack of money and poor living conditions, these were the happiest years of Hemingway's life, as well as the most artistically productive.
In 1923 Hemingway published his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems. The poems are insignificant, but the stories give strong indication of his emerging genius. With In Our Time (1925) Hemingway drew on his experiences while summering in Michigan to depict the initiation into the world of pain and violence of young Nick Adams, a model for later Hemingway heroes.
Hemingway returned to the United States in 1926 with the manuscripts of two novels and several short stories. That May, Scribner's issued Hemingway's second novel, The Sun Also Rises. This novel, the major statement of the "lost generation," describes a group of Americans and Englishmen, all of whom have suffered physically and emotionally during the war.
In December 1929 A Farewell to Arms was published. This novel tells the story of a tragic love affair between an American soldier and an English nurse set against the backdrop of war and collapsing world order. It contains a philosophical expression of the Hemingway code that man is basically helpless in a violent age: "The world breaks everyone," reflects the main character, "and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that it will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure that it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry."
Hemingway revealed his passionate interest in bull-fighting in Death in the Afternoon (1932), a humorous and unique nonfiction study. Hemingway's African safari in 1934 provided the material for another nonfiction work, The Green Hills of Africa (1935), as well as two of his finest short stories, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro."
In 1940 Hemingway published For Whom the Bell Tolls, his most ambitious novel. A wonderfully clear narrative, it is written in less lyrical and more dramatic prose (nonpoetry writing) than his earlier work.
Following the critical and popular success of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway lapsed into a literary silence that lasted a full decade and was largely the result of his strenuous, frequently reckless, activities during World War II (1939–45; a war in which France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States fought against Germany, Italy, and Japan). In 1942, as a Collier's correspondent with the Third Army, he witnessed some of the bloodiest battles in Europe. At this time he received the nickname of "Papa" from his admirers, both military and literary.
In 1944 while in London, Hemingway met and soon married Mary Welsh, a Time reporter. His three previous marriages—to Hadley Richardson, mother of one son; to Pauline Pfeiffer, mother of his second and third sons; and to Martha Gelhorn—had all ended in divorce. Following the war, Hemingway and his wife purchased a home, Finca Vigía, near Havana, Cuba.
In 1952 The Old Man and the Sea was published. A novella (short novel) about an extraordinary battle between a tired old Cuban fisherman and a giant marlin, it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. A year later, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Hemingway's declining physical condition and increasingly severe mental problems drastically reduced his literary output in the last years of his life. A journey to Africa planned by the author and his wife in 1954 ended in their plane crash over the Belgian Congo. Hemingway suffered severe burns and internal injuries from which he never fully recovered. Additional strain occurred when the revolutionary Cuban government of Fidel Castro (1926–) forced the Hemingways to leave Finca Vigía.
After only a few months in their new home in Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway was admitted to the Mayo Clinic to be treated for hypertension (high blood pressure) and depression, and was later treated with electroshock therapy, a radical therapy where an electric current is sent through the body. Made bitter by an illness that humiliated him physically and impaired his writing, he killed himself with a shotgun on July 2, 1961.
Many of Hemingway's unpublished and unfinished works were published after his death. Because of his amazing body of work, and his intense approach to life, Hemingway was arguably one of the most influential American writers of the twentieth century.
For More Information
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribner, 1969.
Hotchner, A. E. Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir. New York: Random House, 1966.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
Plath, James. Remembering Ernest Hemingway. Key West, FL: Ketch & Yawl Press, 1999.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Paris Years. New York: Blackwell, 1989.
Ernest Hemingway is praised as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. With an understated prose style, his fiction features a narrow range of characters and a harsh focus on violence and machismo (an exaggerated sense of masculine toughness). Many critics and readers have come to appreciate the depth of the author's vision beneath his tough-guy restraint.
Born on July 21, 1899, Hemingway led a fairly happy, upper-middle-class childhood in Oak Park, Illinois . By his teens, he had become interested in literature, and he wrote a weekly column for his high school newspaper and contributed poems and stories to the school magazine.
Upon graduation in 1917, Hemingway became a junior reporter for the Kansas City Star, covering the police and hospital beats and writing feature stories. He quickly demonstrated a talent for the kind of powerful, unbiased stories of violence and despair that later dominated his fiction.
Drives ambulance in World War I
Hemingway tried to join the U.S. Army during World War I (1914–18), but his poor eyesight prevented it. Instead, he volunteered as an ambulance driver in Italy for the American Red Cross . He was badly wounded in both legs by a shrapnel explosion on the Italian battlefront. While he was recovering, he fell in love with an American nurse, who abruptly left him. This experience later provided the basis of his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929).
Back home after the war, Hemingway drafted stories drawn from his boyhood years and wartime experiences that captured his awakening sense of life's misfortunes. He eventually returned to journalism to support himself, contributing features to the Toronto (Ontario) Star.
Expatriate in Paris
Following his first marriage (there were four in all) in 1921, Hemingway moved to Paris, the literary capital of Europe in the 1920s. He traveled frequently, covering the Greco-Turkish War of 1922 and writing special-interest pieces for the Toronto paper. During this period, Hemingway matured as a writer, greatly aided in his artistic development by his close contact in Paris with prominent writers of the time, many who were also expatriates, or people who live outside their own country. They included American fiction writer Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), Irish fiction writer James Joyce (1882–1941), and American fiction writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940).
In 1924, Hemingway published a series of eighteen sketches stemming from his war experiences combined with a group of short stories, calling it In Our Time. The majority of the stories focus on Nick Adams, the perfect example of a Hemingway hero. The early stories introduce Nick as a vulnerable adolescent attempting to understand a violent and confusing world. On the surface, Nick appears tough and insensitive. Most critics believe that the toughness of the Hemingway hero masks a deep and sensitive knowledge of tragedy surrounding him. The short stories in the work are considered some of Hemingway's finest efforts.
Hemingway returned to the United States in 1926, the year his novel The Sun Also Rises was published. The novel is about a group of American and English expatriates in Paris, all of whom have suffered physically and emotionally during World War I. The narrator is Jake Barnes, who was badly wounded in the war. In his postwar life, he establishes his own code of behavior, no longer believing in the dictates of society. He engages in a doomed love affair with the alcoholic Lady Brett Ashley. He is unable to have sexual relations because of his war wounds and stands by as Brett Ashley goes through a series of lovers.
Upon its release, critics objected to The Sun Also Rises as a story of meaningless drinking and sex. But a few critics immediately recognized the novel as a literary work and praised its quest for meaning and values that could endure even in a modern world in which traditional values have lost their force.
In 1927, Hemingway moved to Key West, Florida , where he could indulge his love of fishing and work on A Farewell to Arms. The story of a love affair between an American soldier and an English nurse, the novel expresses the Hemingway code of toughness and endurance in a violent age. Following the novel's immense success, Hemingway was recognized as a major force in literature.
The tough guy
In the early 1930s, Hemingway contributed a series of articles to a new magazine, Esquire. In these articles, intentionally or not, he projected an image of himself as a man's man—tough and foulmouthed, an outdoorsman and also a notorious playboy. True to that image, he took up fishing from his cabin cruiser Pilar in the wealthy playground of the Bahamas. One product of this time was the novel To Have and Have Not (1937), which dramatized his admiration for a Key West desperado named Harry Morgan.
When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Hemingway wanted to play a role in the fight against fascism (an authoritarian political system in which individual liberty is suppressed for the interests of the state). He sailed for Spain in 1937 under contract to the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA). His Spanish Civil War novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in 1940. The novel portrays modern war in all its horror. It was the most commercially successful of Hemingway's books through 1940.
The 1940s and 1950s
After the start of World War II (1939–45), Hemingway again became personally involved. He set up an organization to spy on German Nazi agents who were gathering in Cuba. He even supervised the adaptation of his beloved fishing boat, Pilar, to be used against German submarines in the Caribbean. He spent part of the war in England and France and took part in efforts to liberate France from German occupation.
In 1952, after a long unproductive period, Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea, a novella based on a true story he had heard from a Cuban boatman. The tale of old Santiago and his battle with the giant marlin was a kind of universal fable: one man alone, locked in a struggle with a worthy adversary. Though the old man eventually lost his prize to sharks, he had carried on against great odds with courage and endurance, the qualities that Hemingway most revered. The novella earned Hemingway a Pulitzer Prize in 1953.
Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, but he had been badly hurt in a plane accident and could not attend the ceremony. Other physical ailments began to limit his creative energy. In the fall and winter of 1957–58, Hemingway summoned energy to write a series of sketches on his life in Paris from 1921 to 1926. Eventually named A Moveable Feast (1964), it is considered the best work of his later life.
In 1960, Hemingway suffered a serious mental breakdown. His depressive behavior and other illnesses persisted, and he committed suicide the following year.
During his lifetime, Hemingway actively promoted his larger-than-life reputation as a tough American hero who sought to experience violence as well as write about it. He was an expert in the arenas of war, bullfighting, deep-sea fishing, boxing, big-game hunting, and reckless, extravagant living—experiences that he often recounted in his fiction. Yet Hemingway viewed writing as his sacred occupation. He tried to be painfully honest in his writing, seeking new truths while distancing himself from traditions that were no longer meaningful. His spare prose allows his readers to make their own judgments about the complex and jaded world he portrays.
(b. July 21, 1899; d. July 2, 1961) Author.
Ernest Hemingway was one of America's foremost novelists. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and Red Cross volunteer in World War I. Hemingway became part of the "Lost Generation" of writers, artists, and poets after World War I who were disillusioned with American society and its creed of progress following the brutality of that war. Like many of that generation, the experience of war shaped their view of life. War also left an indelible mark on Hemingway's personality that would haunt him until his suicide.
Growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, Hemingway was torn between two paths. His mother taught him to appreciate art and music. His father, a country doctor, taught him the delights of the outdoors, including hunting. When his father forbad Ernest from joining the Army after America declared war on Germany in 1917, the young Hemingway became a reporter with the Kansas City Star. It was there, among newspaper men, that he began to learn the style that would make him one of the twentieth century's most famous and widely-read authors: short, declarative sentences and an aversion to the prettified descriptions and mannered prose of the last century.
Still, even covering the excitement of local police precincts and hospitals wasn't enough for Hemingway. He craved the action and glory like in the stories he'd invented as a child, imagining himself as the dashing hero. After six months with the Kansas City Star, he decided he had had enough of newspaper work.
Hemingway enlisted in the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver and within a few weeks was in Italy, where he got his first taste of modern mechanized warfare: bloody, brutal, and unremitting. In his letters home, he described his shock at the dismembered bodies and the corpses of innocent civilians. The sight of dead women at an exploded munitions factory in Milan, Italy, seems to have troubled him particularly. A few weeks later, on July 8, 1918, he got his second taste of war when an artillery shell exploded nearby, sending more than 200 fragments into his leg.
It was while he was recovering from this wound that Hemingway met and fell deeply in love with a young nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. Though she rejected him and broke his heart, Agnes would appear as the doomed nurse so loved by Frederic Henry, an American
in the Italian ambulance service, in Hemingway's novel of World War I, A Farewell To Arms (1929).
No longer fit for the ambulance service, Hemingway returned to newspaper work, taking a position with the Toronto Star in 1920. After a year, he married Hadley Richardson and relocated to Paris to cover the Greco-Turkish War. A short time later, in 1923, Three Stories and Ten Poems made its appearance, as did Hemingway's first son, John.
It was during this time, too, that Hemingway became attached to a collection of disaffected expatriate Americans in Paris, a group of people who became the basis for his first noteworthy novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926). Among them was the typical Hemingway surrogate, the damaged, cynical and still hopeful Jake Barnes. Later yet, Hemingway would employ his recollections as a reporter covering the civil war in Spain, and supporting the Loyalist cause against the fascists, to weave his most daring and structurally complex novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). These were innovative works of fiction: lean, cold, and immediate. His people were often soldiers, or hunters, or fighters, and their lives were etched in Hemingway's simple, muscular prose, without embellishment. With A Farewell To Arms and his many short stories, these novels became the foundation of Hemingway's literary reputation.
By the time he was thirty, Ernest Hemingway was a world-renowned writer of novels, short stories, and nonfiction. But all was not well. The adult Hemingway was capable of decidedly childish behavior. The bullying tendencies he had displayed as a young man too often reasserted themselves, to disastrous effect. He fell out with old friends and influences. Gertrude Stein he alienated; Sherwood Anderson, sometimes described as the grandfather of Hemingway's prose style, he ridiculed mercilessly in his novel The Torrents of Spring (1926). His four marriages were rocky.
In the late 1930s Hemingway again sought adventure and a cause. He volunteered with other American idealists to fight against the fascists in Spain. He observed this bloody civil war—one that became a prelude to World War II—and made it the context for one of his most successful novels, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was adapted for film in 1943. In 1944 he became a war reporter covering the American campaign in Germany. His love of conflict took him beyond observation into combat under the guise of being a reporter. A man seeking the exhilaration of war, Hemingway seemed lost as a man and writer in peace.
As Hemingway aged, more problems appeared. The prose style, once celebrated, seemed often to descend into self-parody. Critical opinion turned against him. His novel Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) was widely panned. Another effort, Islands in the Stream (published posthumously in 1970) he forsook as too poor. Not until the publication of his short novel The Old Man and the Sea (1952) did he regain the reputation of his early career. The book won Hemingway the 1953 Pulitzer Prize. A year later, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
It was, perhaps, too little, too late. Hemingway's drinking, always heroic, grew worse. He underwent bouts of paranoia and depression. Legendarily accident prone, he suffered a number of debilitating injuries. During a visit to Africa in 1954, he was involved in not one, but two nearly-fatal airplane crashes; his premature obituary was widely published. Hemingway sneered, but he suffered grievous wounds. Physical pain exacerbated his drinking and robbed him of his ability to work.
On 2 July 1961, Ernest Hemingway took his own life, having attempted suicide once already that year. A number of noteworthy works, among them A Moveable Feast (1964), The Nick Adams Stories (1972), and The Dangerous Summer (1985) were published after his death.
Brenner, Gerry and Rovit, Earl. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.
Dolan, Marc. Modern Lives : A Cultural Re-reading of the "Lost Generation." West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1996.
Oliver, Charles M. Ernest Hemingway A to Z: The Essential Reference to the Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 1999.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Final Years. New York: Norton, 1999.
Laura M. Miller
Hemingway, Ernest Miller
HEMINGWAY, ERNEST MILLER
Novelist and short-story writer; b. Oak Park, Ill., July 21, 1899; d. Ketchum, Idaho, July 2, 1961. The son of a doctor and a devoutly religious mother, he spent a Tarkingtonian boyhood in a Chicago suburb and enjoyed Huck Finn summers in a still unspoiled, Native American-inhabited upper Michigan. After a job on the Kansas City Star, he took part in World War I as an ambulance driver and was wounded when barely 19. Briefly a journalist in Toronto and a correspondent during the Greek-Turkish war, he began his long expatriation in France, Italy, Spain, the West Indies, and Cuba, plus two African safaris and irregular but intimate involvements in both the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His father's suicide (1929) was a profound shock. A convert to Catholicism, Hemingway was apparently a believer to the end, though his marital status after the third of his four marriages precluded formal membership in the Church. He had three sons. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a protracted illness marked by hypertension and despondency.
The Nobel prize citation's (1954) salute to Hemingway's gift of "tragic pathos" seems prophetic in retrospect. All Hemingway's heroes are "objective correlatives" of his own attitudes; it is clear that his lifelong literary preoccupation with courage meant, in part, that he constantly dreaded that his own courage would desert him. The fact may well account for the disconcerting Byronic attitudes he struck in public. Underneath these he was a genuine saga figure creating an authentic saga art; his characteristic sardonic irony was a rationalization of his own sense of personal doom.
Classic in technique and romantic in thematics, Hemingway's fictional form is a naturalistic romance utilizing symbols from nature to capture the moral situations of his day. However limited in scope, he is a moralist, a historian of nihilism who takes his text from Ecclesiastes and who realizes in art the ritual inherent in the Catholic ethos, and sets priests and the crucified Christ high among his culture heroes.
For a time Hemingway's celebrated style, the mirror of an apparently straightforward but essentially oblique art, revolutionized world fiction. It is clean, staccato, linear, and vernacular, seeking the visual effects of a Braque, and making a curious Biblical music out of the connective "and." Though he attributes his own derivation to Twain, he displays strong affinities with such far-removed predecessors as the old poet of Maldon, and with Stendhal, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Turgenev, and Conrad. The future will probably diagnose his major weaknesses as an oversentimental primitivism and a positively adolescent bravura about sex.
Hemingway's finest work appeared between 1926 and 1936. He was the Froissart of the "lost generation" as Fitzgerald was its troubadour, and his best novels are The Sun Also Rises (1926), a brilliant, tragicomedy "Waste Land" that deploys a freshness of sensibility and incomparably cadenced dialogue; and A Farewell to Arms (1929), very possibly the best novel in English to deal with World War I. To Have and Have Not (1937) is marred by a gauche technique; and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) misses the inimitable tension-in-suspension that is his best work's emotional trademark. His only total failure, Across the River and into the Trees (1950), breaks down into self-parodying bathos. His single novella, The Old Man and the Sea (1952), at once Homeric and deeply Christian, demonstrates a lovely Franciscan empathy with the animal creation and incarnates, in old Santiago, Hemingway's central vision of man "destroyed but not defeated." An unusually high number of his 50-odd short stories are flawlessly executed and may well constitute his chief claim on posterity; such are "Great Two-Hearted River," "The Undefeated," "Twenty Grand," "The Killers," "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," and that archetypal parable for its century, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." Hemingway's ultimate critical status remains in some debate, but he achieved indubitable literature whose dominant note has been well described as a "clarity of heart."
Bibliography: e. hemingway, Death in the Afternoon (New York 1932); Green Hills of Africa (New York 1935); A Moveable Feast (New York 1964), all contain valuable autobiographical details. c. h. baker, Hemingway: The Writer as Artist (3d ed. Princeton 1963), best biography and major critical source; ed., Hemingway and His Critics: An International Anthology (New York 1961). c. a. fenton, The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway (New York 1954), casts valuable light on the early years. j. k. mccaffery, ed., Ernest Hemingway: The Man and His Work (Cleveland 1950). j. atkins, The Art of Ernest Hemingway: His Work and Personality (New York 1952). p. young, Ernest Hemingway (New York 1952). s. sanderson, Hemingway (New York 1961). e. rovit, Ernest Hemingway (New York 1963).
[c. a. brady]
Hemingway, Ernest Miller