Hemmingway's life was littered with accidents and recoveries, new starts and abrupt endings in relationships. He was someone who channelled, someone who took the events of his troubled yet joyous life and turned them into great art. Would he have been the great artist he became if those events had not happened, or did they happen because he lived large and in a risky way?
Jackson Benson believes Hemingway used autobiographical details as framing devices about life in general—not only about his life. For example, Benson postulates that Hemingway used his experiences and drew them out with "what if" scenarios: "what if I were wounded in such a way that I could not sleep at night? What if I were wounded and made crazy, what would happen if I were sent back to the front?"
I think it is a combination of both. He lived large and he needed to live large and in a risky way. For him, there was no other way. Safe was just not an option for him, as it is not really an option for many of the great unique artists we profile in the group.
The Facts Of Life and Achievements
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago
Hemingway was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois.
His father Clarence Edmonds Hemingway was a physician, and his mother, Grace Hall-Hemingway, was a musician. Both were well educated and well respected in the conservative community of Oak Park.
Hemingway's mother frequently performed in concerts around the village. As an adult Hemingway professed to hate his mother, although biographer Michael Reynolds points out that Hemingway mirrored her energy and enthusiasm. Her insistence that he learn to play the cello became a "source of conflict", but he later admitted the music lessons were useful in his writing, as in the "contrapuntal structure" of For Whom the Bell Tolls.
|Photograph of Hemingway family in 1905, from left: Marcelline, Sunny, Clarence, Grace, Ursula and Ernest.|
His distinctive writing style, characterized by economy and understatement, strongly influenced 20th-century fiction,
Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works during his lifetime; a further three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are classics of American literature.
After leaving high school, he worked for a few months as a reporter for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to become an ambulance driver during World War I.
In 1918, he was seriously wounded in the war and returned home within the year; his wartime experiences became the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms.
His first novel, The Sun Also Rises, was published in 1926.
Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in a plane crash that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life.
Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and '40s, but in 1959 he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.
In the fall of 1928 he was in New York with Bumby, about to board a train to Florida, when he received a cable telling him that his father had committed suicide Hemingway was devastated, having earlier sent a letter to his father telling him not to worry about financial difficulties; the letter arrived minutes after the suicide.
Almost exactly 35 years after Hemingway's death, on July 1, 1996, his granddaughter Margaux Hemingway died in Santa Monica, California. Margaux was a supermodel and actress, co-starring with her sister Mariel in the 1976 movie Lipstick. Her death was later ruled a suicide, making her "the fifth person in four generations of her family to commit suicide."
He was released in late June 1961 and arrived home in Ketchum on June 30. Two days later, in the early morning hours of July 2, 1961, Hemingway "quite deliberately" shot himself with his favorite shotgun. He unlocked the gun cabinet, went to the front entrance of their Ketchum home, and "pushed two shells into the twelve-gauge Boss shotgun, put the end of the barrel into his mouth, pulled the trigger and blew out his brains."during his final years, Hemingway's behavior was similar to his father's before he himself committed suicide; his father may have had the genetic disease hemochromatosis, in which the inability to metabolize iron culminates in mental and physical deterioration. Medical records made available in 1991 confirm that Hemingway's hemochromatosis had been diagnosed in early 1961.
His sister Ursula and his brother Leicester also committed suicide.
Added to Hemingway's physical ailments was the additional problem that he had been a heavy drinker for most of his life.
The family owned a summer home called Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan, where Hemingway learned to hunt, fish and camp in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan. His early experiences in nature instilled a passion for outdoor adventure, and living in remote or isolated areas.
Hemingway was a journalist before becoming a novelist; after leaving high school he went to work for The Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. Although he stayed there for only six months he relied on the Star's style guide as a foundation for his writing:
"" Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."
Early in 1918 Hemingway responded to a Red Cross recruitment effort and signed on to be an ambulance driver in Italy. He left New York in May, and arrived in Paris as the city was under bombardment from German artillery. By June he was stationed at the Italian Front, and on his first day in Milan was sent to the scene of a munitions factory explosion where rescuers retrieved the shredded remains of female workers. He described the incident in his non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon:
"I remember that after we searched quite thoroughly for the complete dead we collected fragments"
.A few days later he was stationed at Fossalta di Piave. On July 8 he was seriously wounded by mortar fire, having just returned from the canteen to deliver chocolate and cigarettes to the men at the front line. Despite his wounds, Hemingway carried an Italian soldier to safety, for which he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery.
|Hemingway photographed in Milan, 1918, dressed in uniform|
He sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs; underwent an operation at a distribution center; spent five days at a field hospital; and was transferred to the Red Cross hospital in Milan for recuperation. Hemingway spent six months in the hospital, where he met and fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse seven years his senior. Agnes and Hemingway planned to marry, but she became engaged to an Italian officer in March 1919, an incident that provided material for the short and bitter work "A Very Short Story". Biographer Jeffrey Meyers claims Hemingway was devastated by Agnes' rejection, and that he followed a pattern of abandoning a wife before she abandoned him in future relationships.
"A VERY SHORT STORY"
Luz stayed on night duty for three months. They were glad to let her. When they operated on him she prepared him for the operating table; and they had a joke about friend or enema. He went under the anaesthetic holding tight on to himself so he would not blab about anything during the silly, talky time. After he got on crutches he used to take the temperatures so Luz would not have to get up from the bed. There were only a few patients, and they all knew about it. They all liked Luz. As he walked back along the halls he thought of Luz in his bed.
Before he went back to the front they went into the Duomo and prayed. It was dim and quiet, and there were other people praying. They wanted to get married, but there was not enough time for the banns, and neither of them had birth certificates. They felt as though they were married, but they wanted everyone to know about it, and to make it so they could not lose it.
Luz wrote him many letters that he never got until after the armistice. Fifteen came in a bunch to the front and he sorted them by the dates and read them all straight through. They were all about the hospital, and how much she loved him and how it was impossible to get along without him and how terrible it was missing him at night.
After the armistice they agreed he should go home to get a job so they might be married. Luz would not come home until he had a good job and could come to New York to meet her. It was understood he would not drink, and he did not want to see his friends or anyone in the States. Only to get a job and be married. On the train from Padua to Milan they quarreled about her not being willing to come home at once. When they had to say good-bye, in the station at Milan, they kissed good-bye, but were not finished with the quarrel. He felt sick about saying good-bye like that.
He went to America on a boat from Genoa. Luz went back to Pordonone to open a hospital. It was lonely and rainy there, and there was a battalion of arditi quartered in the town. Living in the muddy, rainy town in the winter, the major of the battalion made love to Luz, and she had never known Italians before, and finally wrote to the States that theirs had only been a boy and girl affair. She was sorry, and she knew he would probably not be able to understand, but might some day forgive her, and be grateful to her, and she expected, absolutely unexpectedly, to be married in the spring. She loved him as always, but she realized now it was only a boy and girl love. She hoped he would have a great career, and believed in him absolutely. She knew it was for the best.
The major did not marry her in the spring, or any other time. Luz never got an answer to the letter to Chicago about it. A short time after he contracted gonorrhea from a sales girl in a loop department store while riding in a taxicab through Lincoln Park.
Hemingway returned home early in 1919 to a time of readjustment. That summer he spent time in Michigan with high school friends, fishing and camping; and in September he spent a week in the back-country. The trip became the inspiration for his short story "Big Two-Hearted River", in which the semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams takes to the country to find solitude after returning from war.
When St. Louis native Hadley Richardson came to Chicago to visit Hemingway's roommate's sister, Hemingway, who was infatuated, later claimed
"I knew she was the girl I was going to marry".