Hemingway, Ernest Miller

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hemingway, Ernest Miller


Born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, near Chicago; died July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho. American writer.

Hemingway graduated from high school in 1917 and went to work as a newspaper reporter in Kansas City. He served in World War I as an ambulance driver. Hemingway’s experience in journalism played an important role in his development as a writer. The war, the fate of the “lost generation,” and his search for life’s true values determined the content of Hemingway’s work in the 1920’s. His collection of short stories In Our Time (1925) introduced the first of the “lyrical heroes” who were to appear in Hemingway’s writing throughout his entire creative life. Critical moments in the life of this hero constitute a history of the “sentimental education” of a young 20th-century American in a world of cruelty, suffering, and violent death. In the novel The Sun Also Rises (1926; simultaneous British edition with the title Fiesta), Hemingway conveyed the disenchantment, pain, and despair of the lost generation in the years of the postwar “prosperity.” The central ethical problem in Hemingway—how to live in our time—remains without solution for the majority of his characters. At the same time, in The Sun Also Rises and the collection of stories Men Without Women (1927), Hemingway’s moral credo was clearly defined: man’s courage and individual worth can challenge the severe tests of life and the greatness of the human spirit remains unbroken in defeat. The novel A Farewell to Arms (1929) reveals the truly hostile nature of war. The heroes appear as victims of cruel inhuman forces, to which Hemingway opposes the great basis of life, namely, love. Tragedy is combined with true romance in the book.

During the first half of the 1930’s, Hemingway underwent a profound creative crisis. He attempted to find new meaning in his past experience and to define the aesthetic principles of his creative work—as seen in the authorial comments in Death in the Afternoon (1932), Green Hills of Africa (1935), and the collection of short stories Winner Take Nothing (1933). The resolution of the crisis is apparent in the novel To Have and Have Not (1937), in which grotesque sketches are provided of the leaders of bourgeois society in the USA. The novel also shows that fighting for one’s rights alone is doomed to failure.

As a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War (1931–39), Hemingway for the first time witnessed a revolutionary war for liberation. He revealed its heroism, romance, and tragedy in his reporting, sketches, and literary works, the most important of which is the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). By turning to the experience of the civil war, Hemingway’s novel acquired a deeper connection with history and the people. Previously, when Hemingway’s heroes experienced war, they refused to take part in social struggles. His hero now became a fighting antifascist, conscious of his personal responsibility for the fate of all mankind. However, alongside the strongly optimistic basis of the novel, Hemingway’s tragic stoicism and his characteristic view of the irony of life and history are again revealed.

There was a noticeable decline in Hemingway’s work after World War II. He returned to themes he had already exhausted and found himself incapable of mastering new experiences, as seen, for example, in the novel Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) and the unfinished novel Islands in the Stream (published 1970; Russian translation, 1971). Hemingway confirmed his faith in man in the novel-parable The Old Man and the Sea (1952), which was seen as a summing-up of his life’s work and whose publication was the occasion for awarding him the Pulitzer (1953) and Nobel (1954) prizes.

Death, cruelty, and violence were of interest to Hemingway primarily because they were responsible for the most important moral problems of the 20th century. A writer with a tragic world outlook, Hemingway contrasted his faith in man’s moral power and capacity for heroism with the injustice and chaos of life around him. In Hemingway’s work a number of literary traditions were transformed: the national (Mark Twain, S. Anderson, and G. Stein), the Western European (Stendhal, Flaubert, and de Maupassant), and the Russian (Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Chekhov). Hemingway created one of the most distinctive styles of the 20th century, one noted for its simplicity, strict objectivity, restrained lyricism, and rich subtext. Hemingway’s diction and dialogue had a great influence on modern prose.

Soviet readers became acquainted with Hemingway the artist through the work of I. A. Kashkin, who initiated the study of his work in the USSR.


By-Line; Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades. New York, 1967.
The Nick Adams Stories. New York, 1972.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1968.
Reportazhi. Moscow, 1969.


Kashkin, I. Ernest Kheminguei. Moscow, 1966.
Gribanov, B. Kheminguei. Moscow, 1970.
Lidskii, lu. Tvorchestvo E. Khemingueia. Kiev, 1973.
Zatonskii, D. Iskusstvo romana i XX vek. Moscow, 1973. Pages 337–58.
Finkel’shtein, I. Kheminguei-romanist. Gorky, 1974.
Baker, C. Hemingway: The Writer as Artist, 4th ed. Princeton, N.J., 1972.
Baker, C. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York [1969].
Young, P. Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration. London, 1966.
Ernest Kheminguei: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow, 1970.
Hanneman, A. Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Princeton, N.J., 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.