Ernest Hemingway was an American renowned journalist, novelist, and short story writer. His writing was one of a type that was economic and simple and which he described as Iceberg Theory. The iceberg theory has a significant influence on the fiction work produced in the 20th century. The iceberg theory, as coined by Hemingway refers to a minimalistic style of writing typically characterized by the use of surface elements in explaining deeper meaning and themes. Hemingway was a public figure and had an adventurous lifestyle and for this reason, many emulated his life. Majority of Hemingway’s works are classified as the classics of American literature. Therefore, this paper comprises Ernest Hemingway’s biography.
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Hemingway was born on 21st July 1899 in Oak Park Illinois. He was the son of Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and Grace Hall Hemingway. As a young boy, Hemingway was taught by his father some skills such as fishing, hunting, and camping mainly in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan (Phillip).The early exposure would later instill in Hemingway the desire for adventure and dwelling in isolated areas. He began his first grade when he was only five years when his mother decided that he could do similar class work tasks to his sister Marceline who was a year older than him He was enrolled at Oak Park-River Forest High School in 1913 and completed his education in 1917. While in high school, Hemingway engaged in various sports activities including football, boxing, water polo, and track and field (Wegner 59). Hemingway also did well in his English classes and undertook journalism class in his junior year. Writers submitted their papers to the school newspaper and the best ones were published. Hemingway’s first paper on a local performance was published in January 1916. However, upon completing high school, Hemingway worked as a cub reporter for the Kansa City Star although his stay there was short-lived. Hemingway was a journalist before he embarked on writing. His writing journey was influenced by the Star’s style guide.
As soon as he left the Kansa city in 1918, Hemingway was recruited by the Red Cross and became an ambulance driver in Italy (Mammadov 81). Following the city’s attack by German, Hemingway departed from New York in May and went to Paris. Later, in June he was involved in the Italian front and his first mission while in Milan involved rescuing the persons who were involved in an explosion that occurred in the factory of munitions. The events of that day were recorded in his non-fiction text namely, Death in the Afternoon. At only eighteen years, Hemingway was seriously injured in July of the same year following the incident of the mortar fire. As he continued to recuperate at the Red Cross hospital in Milan where he spent six years he fell in love with a Red Cross nurse. Although their planned marriage did not take place, Hemingway returned to the US at the beginning of 1919. While at home he went camping and fishing with his high school friends. It was during their trip to Upper Peninsula, Michigan that he was inspired to write the short story Big Two-Hearted River. He was later offered a job in Toronto by a family friend. At Toronto Hemingway became a staff writer and a freelancer for the Toronto Star Weekly before returning to Michigan in the following month. September 1920 found Hemingway in Chicago where he lived with friends and during this time he continued compiling stories for the Toronto Star Weekly alongside being an associate editor of the Cooperative Commonwealth, a monthly journal. Hemingway met Hadley Richardson, dated a few months and married on September 3rd, 1921 and later moved to Paris. After a two months stay in Paris, the Toronto Star hired Hemingway as a foreign correspondent.
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Hemingway writing was mainly shaped during his stay in Paris a fact that may have made him like Paris more. He says “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast” (Hemingway 2). Still, “Advised and encouraged by other American writers in Paris—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound—he began to see his nonjournalistic work appear in print…” (Young). Hemingway made several achievements in Paris such as covering the Greco-Turkish War. Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems was published in 1923. The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s greatest work was also published in 1926. As he continued working on The Sun Also Rises Hemingway was already involved in a love affair with Pauline Pfeiffer and it led to the divorce with Hadley and later Hemingway married Pauline. According to Mammadov “Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest American writers, but he was also one of the worst in depicting life and women” (81).
Hemingway’s life was so involving and sometimes complicated. He made a visit to East Africa and wrote some books featuring the visit. He also covered the Spanish Civil War (Hemingway 2), divorced and remarried and later was involved in a road accident and plane crash. Wegner asserts that “It took Hemingway more than two years to recover from his injuries.
In the African plane crash; the amount of pain and worry was incalculable” (Wegner 163)
He sank depression following the death of his fellow writers such as William and ford in 1939, Scott 1940, Sherwood and James Joyce in 1941, Gertrude in 1946, and Max in 1947. Consequently, Hemingway suffered from hypertension, headaches, weight problems and was later diagnosed with diabetes. In 1953, Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize in literature in 1954. Hemingway life was gradually breaking down following his illness. He also feared that the FBI was watching him. He worried about taxes, safety, money, and his manuscripts. For these misfortunes, Hemingway shot himself on July 2nd, 1961, two days after discharge from the hospital.
One of Hemingway’s non-fiction book that depicts his life in the Spanish Civil war is For Whom the Bell Tolls. The protagonist in the book is an American man Robert Jordan. Robert is sent on a mission by the Republican command to blow up the bridge controlled by the Fascist. In his mission, he is welcome by the Spanish guerrilla fighters in their camp. Although the mission is first opposed by Pablo, he and the rest of the guerrilla fighters are determined to blow up the bridge. Robert falls in love with Maria and gets intimate several times. The blowing up of the bridge must happen daytime and this fact makes the mission difficult. Pablo also throws away some explosives. Nonetheless, the mission must be executed and on the scheduled day Robert and Anselmo plant explosives. As they retreat, Robert breaks his leg and is left behind although the mission succeeds.
In summary, Hemingway’s life was one with its highs and lows. He began as a journalist and later as a novelist and a short stories writer. He was admired by many for what he could accomplish at his age. He worked in various places as an editor, writer, or even as a journalist. One of the things that stand out was his minimalistic style of writing where he needed not to emphasize on themes. Hemingway published numerous of his works from which a majority was considered as classics for American literature.
- Hemingway, Ernest. “Ernest Hemingway Biography.” (2015).
- Mammadov, Ruslan. “An American writer Ernest Hemingway’s lifestyle and its influence to his creative activity.” Scientific Work of Russian University (2009), 48(6.3) pp81-86. Web.
- Wagner, Linda. M. “Ernest Hemingway A Literary Life.” Palgrave Macmillan. (2007). Young Phillip. “Ernest Hemingway.”