Ernest Hemingway

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Hemingway, Ernest,

1899–1961, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Oak Park, Ill. one of the great American writers of the 20th cent.


The son of a country doctor, Hemingway worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star after graduating from high school in 1917. During World War I he served as an ambulance driver in France and in the Italian infantry and was wounded just before his 19th birthday. Later, while working in Paris as a correspondent for the Toronto Star, he became involved with the expatriate literary and artistic circle surrounding Gertrude SteinStein, Gertrude,
1874–1946, American author and patron of the arts, b. Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pa. A celebrated personality, she encouraged, aided, and influenced—through her patronage as well as through her writing—many literary and artistic
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. During the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway served as a correspondent on the loyalist side. He fought in World War II and then settled in Cuba in 1945. In 1954, Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. After his expulsion from Cuba by the Castro regime, he moved to Idaho. He was increasingly plagued by ill health and mental problems (he was bipolar and a heavy drinker), and in July, 1961, he committed suicide by shooting himself.


Hemingway's fiction usually focuses on people living essential, dangerous lives—soldiers, fishermen, athletes, bullfighters—who meet the pain and difficulty of their existence with stoic courage. His celebrated literary style, influenced by Ezra PoundPound, Ezra Loomis,
1885–1972, American poet, critic, and translator, b. Hailey, Idaho, grad. Hamilton College, 1905, M.A. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1906. An extremely important influence in the shaping of 20th-century poetry, he was one of the most famous and controversial
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 and Gertrude Stein, is direct, terse, muscular, and often monotonous, yet particularly suited to his elemental subject matter.

Hemingway's first books, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), In Our Time (short stories, 1924), and The Torrents of Spring (a novel, 1926), attracted attention primarily because of his literary style. With the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), he was recognized as the spokesman of the "lost generation" (so called by Gertrude Stein). The novel concerns a group of psychologically bruised, disillusioned expatriates living in postwar Paris, who take psychic refuge in such immediate physical activities as eating, drinking, traveling, brawling, and lovemaking.

His next important novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929), tells of a tragic wartime love affair between an ambulance driver and an English nurse. Hemingway also published such volumes of short stories as Men without Women (1927) and Winner Take Nothing (1933), as well as The Fifth Column, a play. His First Forty-nine Stories (1938) includes such famous short stories as "The Killers," "The Undefeated," and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Hemingway's nonfiction works, Death in the Afternoon (1932), about bullfighting, and Green Hills of Africa (1935), about big-game hunting, glorify virility, bravery, and the virtue of a primal challenge to life.

From his experience in the Spanish Civil War came Hemingway's great novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which, in detailing an incident in the war, argues for human brotherhood. His novella The Old Man and the Sea (1952) celebrates the indomitable courage of an aged Cuban fisherman. Among Hemingway's other works are the novels To Have and Have Not (1937) and Across the River and into the Trees (1950); he also edited an anthology of stories, Men at War (1942). Posthumous publications include A Moveable Feast (1964, restored ed. 2009), a memoir of Paris in the 1920s; the novels Islands in the Stream (1970) and True at First Light (1999), a safari saga begun in 1954 and edited by his son Patrick; and The Nick Adams Stories (1972), a collection that includes previously unpublished pieces.


See his selected letters ed. by C. Baker (1981) and his letters ed. by M. J. Bruccoli (1996) and by S. Spanier et al. (2 vol., 2011–); biographies by C. Baker (1969, rev. ed. 1980), J. Meyers (1986), M. S. Reynolds (5 vol., 1987–99), K. Lynn (1988), J. R. Mellow (1993), and M. V. Dearborn (2017); literary biography by S. Donaldson (1977); P. Hendrickson's biographical Hemingway's Boat (2011); B. Vejdovsky and M. Hemingway, Hemingway: A Life in Pictures (2011); P. Young, Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration (rev. ed. 1966); C. Baker, Hemingway, the Writer as Artist (4th ed. 1972), H. S. Villard and J. Nagel, Hemingway in Love and War (1989), J. McLendon, Papa (1990), and S. Donaldson, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald (1999); M. S. Reynolds, Hemingway: An Annotated Chronology (1991).

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Hemingway, Ernest (Miller)

(1899–1961) writer; born in Oak Park, Ill. Son of a doctor (who would commit suicide), he never attended college but became a journalist for the Kansas City Star (1917–18). He served with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps in France (1917–18) and was wounded while accompanying the Italian army into battle. He worked as a journalist, covering the Greco-Turkish war for the Toronto Star (1920). In Chicago, he married (his first of four wives) and went back to Europe to serve as a foreign correspondent (1921–24). He made frequent trips to Spain and the Austrian Alps but for the most part was based in Paris where he fell in with the expatriate circle centered around Gertrude Stein. His first published work was Three Stories & Ten Poems (1923), followed by In Our Time (1925), consisting of 15 stories that clearly drew on his own youthful experiences; already his distinctive voice was in evidence—simple sentences, enigmatic dialogue, precise description. His first novel, Torrents of Spring (1926), was more a satire of Maxwell Anderson, but The Sun Also Rises (1926) gained him instant acclaim and seemed to capture what Stein labeled "the lost generation." Men Without Women (1927), another collection of stories, maintained his reputation, while his next novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929), advanced him to the front ranks of contemporary writers. He had returned to the U.S.A. in 1927 but would never stay long in one place, seemingly always in need of adventure—deep-sea fishing off Key West, Fla., big-game hunting in Africa. He had long been dedicated to Spanish bullfighting—his nonfictional work, Death in the Afternoon (1932), effectively introduced it to the non-Spanish world—and when the Spanish Civil War broke out, he went off to cover it (1936–38); he identified with the anti-Fascists, and his only play, The Fifth Column (1938), and one of his better novels, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), came out of this experience. By now he was more than a well-known writer—he had become one of the great celebrities of the century, his every word, activity, drink, and clothing style reported on in magazines such as Life. In 1940 he bought a house in Cuba that was to be a fairly regular stopover (and which Fidel Castro and the Cubans treated as a historical site). In World War II, he is said to have aided in espionage in the Caribbean under cover of deep-sea fishing; he then went to England to report on the Royal Air Force and he accompanied the Allied forces on their drive to liberate Paris. After the war, his talents as a writer seemed to have dulled, but he recaptured both popular and critical audiences with his short novel, The Old Man and the Sea (1952), and ended up with the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954. Restless and unable to complete new writing projects, he became prone to various physical ailments, mental depression, and eventually a form of paranoia; he committed suicide by shooting himself at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. A series of works, including A Moveable Feast (1964), appeared posthumously. Hemingway's terse prose style, self-promoted macho image, and stress on the search for physical challenges have all lent themselves to imitation and parody; but at their best his writing, life, and themes ensured him a role as one of the century's major literary figures.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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