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Ernest Hemingway


What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke?
Gore Vidal

Memingway was a lousy writer. A phony writer. A writer whose books are a tissue of falsehoods and moronic clichés of masculinity. A mendacious, ridiculous, deluded buffoon of a writer intoxicated by fame to the point of writing drivel. A malicious, unscrupulous, pig-headed bully who stole any good idea he ever had from his betters and turned those ideas into banalities. A Harlequin romance novelist masquerading as a pioneer of literary modernism.
Gary Indiana

Hemingway is one of two authors who wrote in the last century – the other is D H Lawrence – whose reputation has soared and slumped several times. Lawrence, of course, was a hero to the earthy sex school, the freedom-loving Sixties people and F R Leavis. Hemingway is to blame for a host of horrendous writers, most of whom have mercifully been forgotten, but some of whom – think Norman Mailer – are still read. They thought being macho and tough was an excuse for poor writing and they also thought that what was just bad writing was, in their eyes, being stylistically sophisticated like Papa. He has a lot to answer for.

He was born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. His father was a doctor and his mother taught music and once planned on being an opera singer. His father introduced him to the standard manly, outdoor pursuits that would characterise him in later life. He started writing journalism a school and, after school, joined the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. It was the Star that helped form his style, with its style book calling for short, vigorous sentences. He left soon after to enlist and served in the Ambulance Corps in Italy, where he was wounded and decorated. He started writing stories while convalescing. He then moved to Toronto where he worked as a reporter for the Toronto Star. In 1932, while living in Chicago, he married his first wife. She found the apartment depressing and they decided to move to Paris.

He became friendly with Gertrude Stein, who introduced him to many artistic people in Paris. Hemingway, Stein and other American expatriate writers formed what became known as The Lost Generation. Hemingway started writing stories and some of his work was printed privately in Paris before the US publishers, Boni and Liveright, published his short story collection, In Our Time. At the suggestion of F Scott Fitzgerald, he switched publishers to Scribner’s and started having more success. In 1927, he divorced his first wife and married Pauline Pfeiffer, a Catholic. He, too, converted to Catholicism. The couple moved to Key West. After that he would move around during the 1930s, living in various places and travelling a lot.

However, after his initial success, his writing was receiving less commercial and critical acclaim and he accepted an assignment to cover the Spanish Civil War, which he used in his writing, particularly For Whom the Bell Tolls. His second marriage ended and he married Martha Gellhorn. They moved to Cuba, where he was to spend most of his life till the Cuban Revolution. During the War, he fitted his fishing boat to hunt submarines (he had no success) and went to England as a war correspondent in 1944. His career now started taking a downturn. While The Old Man and the Sea had success, it is appalling sentimental rubbish. He won the Nobel Prize in 1954. He started having health problems, both physical and mental, and ended up killing himself in 1961.

Books about Ernest Hemingway

Carlos Baker: Hemingway
A. E. Hotchner: Papa Hemingway
Kenneth Lynn: Hemingway
Charles Oliver: Ernest Hemingway A to Z
Michael Reynolds: Hemingway (five volumes!)

Other links

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Timeless Hemingway
Introducing Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway biography
Ernest Hemingway biography
Ernest Hemingway In His Time
Speiser and Easterling-Hallman Collection of Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway Collection
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center (museum set up by family of his second wife)
The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park
The Hemingway Society


1923 Three Stories and Ten Poems (stories/poems)
1924 In Our Time (stories)
1926 The Torrents of Spring (novel)
1926 The Sun Also Rises (UK: Fiesta) (novel)
1927 Men Without Women (stories)
1929 A Farewell to Arms (novel)
1930 The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (stories)
1932 Death in the Afternoon (novel)
1933 Winner take Nothing (stories)
1933 God Rest You Merry Gentlemen (story)
1935 Green Hills of Africa (novel)
1937 To Have and Have Not (novel)
1938 The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories (drama/stories)
1940 For Whom the Bell Tolls (novel)
1944 Voyage to Victory (journalism)
1950 Across the River and into the Trees (novel)
1952 The Old Man and the Sea (novel)
1959 Two Christmas Tales (stories)
1962 Hemingway, The Wild Years (journalism)
1964 A Moveable Feast (novel)
1967 By-Lines (journalism)
1970 Islands in the Stream (novel)
1970 Ernest Hemingway: Cub Reporter (journalism)
1972 The Nick Adams Stories (stories)
1979 88 Poems
1985 Dateline: Toronto (journalism)
1985 The Dangerous Summer (bullfighting)
1986 The Garden of Eden (novel)
1987 The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (stories)
1981 Selected Letters
1999 True At First Light (novel)
1999 Hemingway on Writing
2000 Hemingway on Fishing
2003 Hemingway on War
2003 Hemingway on Hunting
2005 Under Kilimanjaro (novel)
2008 Hemingway on Paris