Ernest Hemingway: Literary Lion

È stato uno degli autori statunitensi più acclamati del secolo scorso, un personaggio fuori dall’ordinario che ebbe una vita avventurosa e partecipò a tre dei peggiori conflitti della sua epoca, oltre a contribuire a delineare il futuro della letteratura in lingua inglese.

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Ernerst Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway, the American journalist, novelist, big game hunter, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born on July 21, 1899. As a young boy, he spent summers with his father, hunting and fishing. He hated his mother. Aged just eighteen, he became a journalist for the Kansas City Star

World War One

In December 1917, during World War One, Hemingway left for Italy to serve as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. Badly wounded, he returned to America. In 1921, he married Hadley Richardson. The couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent, becoming part of the 1920s Lost Generation expatriate community, which included James Joyce, Picasso and Joan Miró. 

San Fermín

In 1923, Hemingway visited the festival of San Fermín in Pamplona. He fell in love with bullfighting. Three years later, he published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, based on his trips to Pamplona. The New York Times praised its “lean, hard, athletic narrative prose.” This prose was Hemingway’s legacy to literature.

Second Wife, Second Book

In 1927, Hemingway divorced his first wife and married Pauline Pfeiffer, a wealthy American Catholic. His second novel, A Farewell to Arms, based on his experiences in the First World War, appeared in 1929. Hemingway spent much of the 1930s shooting animals in Africa, especially lions. In 1937, he left for Spain to cover the Civil War as a correspondent. He met journalist Martha Gellhorn, who would become his third wife. Gellhorn inspired him to write his most famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, based on his experiences in the Civil War.

Cuban Menagerie

In 1940, the couple bought a house near Havana in Cuba, which they shared with fifty-two cats, sixteen dogs, hundreds of pigeons and three cows. In 1944, he moved to Europe to cover the Second World War as a journalist. There he met the Time magazine writer, Mary Welsh, soon to be wife number four. After the war, as his Lost Generation friends of the 1920s started to die, depression invaded his life, already marred by high blood pressure, weight problems, diabetes and his phenomenal alcohol consumption. 

The Nobel Prize

In 1952, Hemingway published his last novel, The Old Man and the Sea, about an ageing fisherman battling a huge marlin. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize. Already depressed, Hemingway became obsessed with money. On July 2, 1961, he killed himself. For Hemingway, writing was a competitive sport. He was no longer competitive. He based his writing on his ‘iceberg theory’: that things operating out of sight, unmentioned by the writer but understood by the reader, strengthened the story. “There is nothing to writing,” he once said. “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Hemingway finally bled to death.

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