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||Ernest (Miller) Hemingway (1899-1961)|
One of the most famous American novelist, short-story writer and essayist, whose deceptively simple prose style have influenced wide range of writers. Hemingway was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was unable to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm, because he was recuperating from injuries sustained in an airplane crash while hunting in Uganda.
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter. You will meet them doing various things with resolve, but their interest rarely holds because after the other thing ordinary life is as flat as the taste of wine when the taste buds have been burned off your tongue." ('On the Blue Water' in Esquire, April 1936)
Ernest Hemingway was born inn Oak Park, Illinois. His mother Grace Hall, whom he never forgave for dressing him as a little girl in his youth, had an operatic career before marrying Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway; he taught his son to love out-door life. Hemingway's father took his own life in 1928 after losing his healt to diabetes and his money in the Florida real-estate bubble. Hemingway attended the public schools in Oak Park and published his earliest stories and poems in his high school newspaper. Upon his graduation in 1917, Hemingway worked six months as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. He then joined a volunteer ambulance unit in Italy during World War I. In 1918 he suffered a severe leg wound. For his service, Hemingway was twice decorated by the Italian government.
Hemingway's affair with an American nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, during his hospital recuperation gave basis for the novel A Farewell to Arms (1929). The tragic love story was filmed first time in 1932, starring Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, and Adolphe Menjou. In the second version from 1957, written by Ben Hecht and directed by Charles Vidor, Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones were in the leading roles. Its failure caused David O. Selznick to produce no more films.
After the war Hemingway worked for a short time as a
journalist in Chicago. He moved in 1921 to Paris, where wrote articles
for the Toronto Star. "If you are lucky enough to have lived
in Paris as a young man, then whenever you go for the rest of your
life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
(A Moveable Feast,
While traveling to Switzerland in 1922, Hemingway's first wife Hadley
lost a piece of luggage, which contained everything he had written to
In Europe, the center of modernist movement, Hemingway associated with such writers as Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who edited some of his texts and acted as his agent. Later Hemingway portrayed Fitzgerald in A Moveable Feast (1964), but less sympathetically. Fitzgerald, however, regretted their lost friendship. Of Gertrude Stein Hemingway wrote to Maxwell Perkins, his editor: "She lost all sense of taste when she had the menopause. Was really an extraordinary business. Suddenly she couldn't tell a good picture from a bad one, a good writer from a bad one, it all went phtt." (in The Only Thing That Counts, 1996) When he was not writing for the newspaper or for himself, Hemingway toured with his wife, the former Elisabeth Hadley Richardson, France, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1922 he went to Greece and Turkey to report on the war between those countries. Hemingway made two trips to Spain in 1923, on the second to see bullfights at Pamplona's annual festival.
Hemingway's first books, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), of which he received no advance at all, and In Our Time (1924), were published in Paris. The Torrents of Spring (1926) was a parody of Sherwood Anderson's style. Hemingway's first serious novel was The Sun Also Rises (1926). The story, narrated by an American journalist, deals with a group of expatriates in France and Spain, members of the disillusioned post-World War I Lost Generation. Main characters are Lady Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes. Lady Brett loves Jake, who has been wounded in war and can't answer her needs. Although Hemingway never explicitly detailed Jake's injury, is seem that he has lost his testicles but not his penis. Jake and Brett and their odd group of friends have various adventures around Europe, in Madrid, Paris, and Pampalona. In attempt to cope with their despair they turn to alcohol, violence, and sex. As Jake, Hemingway was wounded in WW I; they share also interest in bullfighting. The story ends bitter-sweet: "Oh, Jake, Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Hemingway wrote and rewrote the novel in various parts of Spain and France between 1924 and 1926. It became his first great success. Although the Hemingway's language is simple, he used understatement and omission which make the text multilayered and rich in allusions.
After the publication of Men Without Women (1927), Hemingway returned to the United States, settling in Key West, Florida. Hemingway and Hadley divorced in 1927. On the same year Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer, a wealthy fashion editor. In Florida he wrote A Farewell to Arms, which was published in 1929. Its scene is the Italian front in World War I, where two lovers find a brief happiness. The novel gained enormous critical and commercial success.
In 1930s Hemingway wrote such major works as Death in the Afternoon (1932), a nonfiction account of Spanish bullfighting, and The Green Hills of Africa (1935), a story of a hunting safari in East Africa. "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn," is perhaps the most quoted line from the story. To Have and Have Not (1937) was made into a film by the director Howard Hawks. They had became friends in the late 1930s. Hawks also liked to hunt, fish, and drink, and the author got along with Hawk's wife Slim, who later said: "There was an immediate and instant attraction between us, unstated but very, very strong." According to a story, Hawks had told Hemingway that he can make "a movie out of the worst thing you ever wrote." The author has asked, "What's the worst thing I ever wrote?" and Haws said, "That piece of junk called To Have and Have Not." "I needed the money," Hemingway said. The screenplay of the film was written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner.
"And then it just occurred to him that he was going to die. It came with a rush, not as a rush of water nor of wind; but of a sudden evil-smelling emptiness, and the odd thing was that the hyena slipped lightly along the edge of it." (in 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro')
Wallace Stevens once termed Hemingway "the most significant of living poets, so far as the subject of extraordinary reality is concerned." By "poet" Stevens referred to the author's stylistic achievements in his short fiction. Like Gertrude Stein, Hemingway applied techniques from modernist poetry to his writing, such as the artful use of repetition, although in lesser extent than Stein. Hemingway's much quoted "ice-berg theory" was that "If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader . . . will have a feeling of those things as though the writer had stated them."
One of Hemingway's most frequently anthologized short stories is 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro,' first published in Esquire in August 1936. It begins with an epitaph telling that the western summit of the mountain is called the House of God, and close to it was found the carcass of a leopard. Down on the savanna the failed writer Harry is dying of gangrene in an hunting camp. "He had loved too much, demanded too much, and he wrote it all out." Just before the end, Harry has a vision, that he is taken up the see the top of Kilimanjaro on a rescue plane-"great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun." In the film version of the story, directed by Henry King, Harry does not die. Nick Adams, Hemingway's autobiographical pre-World War II character, featured in three collections, In Our Time, Men Without Women, and Winner Take Nothing (1933).
While sailing across the Atlantic on the Ile de France in 1934, Hemingway met the actress Marlene Dietrich, whom he came to call "My little Kraut." They became lifelong friends. Dietrich stored his letters, written between 1949 and 1953, in a fireproof box. In 1937 Hemingway observed the Spanish Civil war firsthand. As many writers, he supported the cause of the Loyalist. In Madrid he met Martha Gellhorn, a writer and war correspondent, who became his third wife in 1940. The first years of his marriage were happy, but he soon realized that Gellhorn was not a housewife, but an ambitious journalist. Gellhorn called Hemingway her "Unwilling Companion". She was eager to travel and "take the pulse of the nation" or the world.
With To Whom the Bells Toll (1940) Hemingway returned again in Spain. He dedicated to book to Gellhorn-Maria in the story was partly modelled after her. "Her hair was the golden brow of a grain field," Hemingway wrote of his heroine. The story covered only a few days and concerned the blowing up of a bridge by a small group of partisans. When the heroine in A Farewell to Arms dies at the end of the story, after giving birth to a stillborn child, now it is time for the hero, Robert Jordan, to sacricife his life. The theme of the coming of death also was central in the novel Across the River and into the Trees (1950).
In addition to hunting expeditions in Africa and Wyoming, Hemingway developed a passion for deep-sea fishing in the waters off Key West, the Bahamas, and Cuba. He also armed his fishing boat, the Pilar, and monitored with his crew Nazi activities and their submarines in that area during World War II. In 1940 Hemingway bought Finca Vigia, a house outside Havana, Cuba. Its surroundings were a paradise for his undisciplined bunch of cats.
In early 1941 Gellhorn made with Hemingway a long, 30,000 mile journey to China. Just before the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, Hemingway managed to get to London, where he settled at the Dorchester Hotel. Before it, he had taken Gellhorn's position as Collier's leading correspondent. She arrived two weeks later, and settled in a separate room. Hemingway observed the D-Day landing below the Normandy cliffs; Gellhorn went ashore with the troops. Back in Paris after many years, Hemingway spent much time at the Ritz Hotel. Hemingways's divorce from Gellhorn in 1945 was bitter. Later Gellhorn said that having "lived with a mythomaniac, I know they believe everything they say, they are not conscious liars, they invent to increase everything about themselves and their lives and believe it." In 1946 Hemingway returned to Cuba. After Gellhorn had left him, he married Mary Welsh, a correspondent for Time magazine, whom he had met in a London restaurant in 1944.
Hemingway's drinking had started already when he was a reporter, and could tolerate large amounts of alcohol. For a long time, drinking did not affect the quality of his writing. In the late 1940s he started to hear voices in his head, he was overweight, the blood pressure was high, and he had clear signs of cirrhosis of the liver. His ignorance of the dangers of liquor Hemingway revealed when he taught his 12-year-old son Patrick to drink. The same happened with his brothers. Patrick had later in life problems with alcohol. Gregory, who was a transvestite, used drugs-he died at the age of 69 in a women's prison in Florida.
Across the River and Into the Trees, Hemingway's first novel in a decade, was poorly received, but the allegorical 27,000 word story The Old Man and the Sea, published first in Life magazine in 1952, restored again his fame. The proragonist is an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago, who finally catches a giant marlin after weeks of disappointments. As he returns to the harbor, the sharks eat the fish, lashed to his boat. The model for Santiago was a Cuban fisherman, Gregorio Fuentes, who died in January 2002, at the age of 104. Fuentes had served as the captain of Hemingway's boat Pilar in the late 1930s and was occasionally his tapster. Hemingway also made a fishing trip to Peru in part to shoot footage for a film version of the Old Man and the Sea.
In 1959 Hemingway visited Spain, where her met the famous bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominquín at a hospital. Abull had caught Dominquín in the groin. "Why the hell do the good and brave have to die before everyone else?" he said. However, Dominquín did not die. Hemingway planned to wrote another book of bullfighting but published instead A Moveable Feast, a memoir of the 1920s in Paris.
Much of his time Hemingway spent in Cuba until Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution. He supported Castro but when the living became too difficult, he moved to the United States. While visiting Africa in 1954, Hemingway was in two flying accidents and was taken to a hospital. In the same year he started to write True at First Light, which was his last full-length book. Part of it appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1972 under the title African Journal.
In 1960 Hemingway was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for treatment of depression, and released in 1961. During this time he was given electric shock therapy for two months. He believed that FBI agents were following him, which was true: they had compiled a large file on him. On July 2 Hemingway committed suicide with his favorite shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. Several of Hemingway's novels have been published posthumously. True at First Light, depiction of a safari in Kenya, appeared in July 1999. It is one of the worst books written by a Nobel writer.