| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Though he has a reputation for writing best about
men in a man’s world of war or wilderness, Hemingway lived very much in a world
of women. Born in the affluent Chicago suburb of Oak Park, he was surrounded by
women as the second child and first son in a family of four sisters. He was
sixteen before his only brother, Leicester, was born. Like his alter ego Nick
Adams, who appears in over twenty stories, Hemingway went hunting and fishing
with his physician father in upper Michigan. A story such as “The Doctor and
the Doctor’s Wife” in In Our Time suggests the alignment Hemingway saw between
the suburban world of his strong-willed mother, Grace, and the escape from its
complexities provided by the Michigan woods that his father loved. An eye
injury kept him out of the army in 1917 when he tried to enlist after high
school graduation. Instead he began his writing apprenticeship as a reporter
for the Kansas City Star.
than a year later, he succeeded in entering the Great War as a driver in the
Red Cross Ambulance Corps. Hemingway uses his own war experiences in both the
Nick Adams stories and A Farewell to Arms of 1929 and yet ties them to images
of war in the work of contemporaries such as T.S. Eliot and nineteenth-century
writers Ambrose Bierce and Stephen Crane. Crane’s protagonist in The Red Badge
of Courage was named Henry Fleming; Hemingway’s narrator Frederic Henry becomes
a direct descendant since he is usually referred to by his last name alone.
Both characters are experiencing war for the first time, and both become
disillusioned by the experience.
his narrator Frederic Henry, Hemingway was wounded in the leg soon after
arriving in Italy to serve in the ambulance corps. He too fell in love with a
British nurse and later found himself caught up in the Italian army’s retreat
from Caporetto as the Austrian and German forces advanced. Henry’s real enemies
are boredom, hunger, thirst, and random violence, all of which are exacerbated
by class conflicts between enlisted men and officers and inept leadership. In
the section excerpted in the book, Henry translates his conversations with Italian
soldiers into English and allows himself the luxury of remembering nurse
Catherine Barkley, who is pregnant with his child, only in a dazed moment of
escape from the humdrum preparations for retreat.
returned from World War I to an American Midwest constrained by Prohibition and
the numbing strictures of family and smalltown life. Journalism and travel
proved his escape. In 1921 he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four
wives, and returned to Europe as foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star.
with a letter of introduction from Sherwood Anderson, Hemingway joined the
coterie of American expatriates forming around Gertrude Stein in Paris. Later
he would attribute much of the repetition in her work to her aversion to
revising and deleting, steps in the writing process that he saw as vital. Yet
as the neophyte writer, Hemingway’s competitive instincts were set aside while
he profited from the lessons of more established writers such as Stein, Ezra Pound,
and eventually F. Scott Fitzgerald.
and recognition complicated Hemingway’s life, as did the birth of his son John
in 1923. Impending fatherhood and the responsibilities it entailed had a gloomy
effect on Hemingway, much as it does for the American in “Hills
Like White Elephants.” Most immediately, Hadley’s pregnancy meant a return
to Canada for several months and a threatened end to the youthful freedom they
had enjoyed in Paris. Their last European fling that July was the first of his
three visits to Spain for the running of the bulls in Pamplona. This experience
is embedded in his most highly acclaimed novel, The Sun Also Rises, which
presents the rootless society of the “lost generation” on a secular pilgrimage
that covers terrain similar to that of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.
of Hemingway’s four marriages marks a stage in his career that suggests an
alignment of his personal and professional life. Marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer
in 1927 signaled a turn toward domestic concerns. Key West, Florida, became his
home base, though he traveled widely in America, Europe, and Africa,
occasionally accompanied by Pauline and their two sons, Patrick and Gregory, as
well as his older son John. He wrote personal essays against the background of
bullfighting in Death in the Afternoon and big game hunting in Green Hills of
Africa and a novel dealing with his Loyalist sympathies in the Spanish Civil
War, For Whom the Bell Tolls.
and remarriage to foreign correspondent Martha Gellhorn in 1940 marked another
stage in Hemingway’s life and work. For the first and only time, he chose a
competitor as a wife, and by his standards this was the least successful of his
marriages. He wrote little fiction in these years, and despite the homes he
established with Martha Gellhorn in Cuba and Ketchum, Idaho, he led a nomadic
life, sporadically covering the European theater of World War II. By the time
Martha Gellhorn scooped him by being with the first wave of American troops to
hit the beaches in the Normandy invasion, Hemingway had chosen a less
aggressive journalist, Mary Welsh, to be his fourth wife. It was with Mary that
Hemingway celebrated the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
of Hemingway’s career in the years of his marriage to Mary Welsh were the
negative response to his highly autobiographical novel Across the River and
Into the Trees, in contrast to the popular and critical success of his novella
The Old Man and the Sea. This work, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in
1952, was the impetus for his receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
Like Stephen Crane of an earlier generation, Hemingway put modern man in an
open boat for a life-or-death struggle on the sea. Though his “old man”
Santiago conquers the great fish, he loses all but the memory of his success.
into depression exacerbated by bouts of hard drinking and writer’s block,
Hemingway committed suicide at his ranch in Ketchum in 1961. His posthumously
published works greatly increase the biographical dimensions of the man to be
discerned from works published in his lifetime, but his reputation as a stylist
and writer of fiction still rests squarely on those works he himself saw
through many stages of revision to publication.
Margaret Anne O’Connor|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In the Heath Anthology
Hills Like White Elephants
from A Farewell to Arms
In Our Time
The Sun Also Rises
The Torrents of Spring
Men Without Women
Death in the Afternoon
Winner Take Nothing
Green Hills of Africa
To Have and Have Not
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Across the River and Into the Trees
The Old Man and the Sea
A Moveable Feast
Islands in the Stream
That Dangerous Summer
The Garden of Eden
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Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Information about Hemingway's home in Florida and his famous cats with six toes per paw.
Hemingway Resource Center
Biography, bibliography, audio clips, and pictures.
Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961)
A comprehensive listing of online resources relating to Hemingway and his work provided by the Internet Public Library.
Extensive selection of resources, including photos, quotes, educational materials, and more.
Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, 1969
Harold Bloom, Ernest Hemingway, 1990
Matthew J. Bruccoli, Dear Ernest, Dear Max: The Ernest Hemingway/Maxwell Perkins Correspondence, 1996
Scott Donaldson, By Force of Will, 1977
Ernest Hemingway A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work, 1999
Joseph M. Flora, Ernest Hemingway: A Study of the Short Fiction, 1989
Audre Hanneman, Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1967, supplement, 1975
Mary Hemingway, How It Was, 1976
A. E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, 1966
Bernice Kert, The Hemingway Women, 1983
Kenneth Lynn, Hemingway, 1987
Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway, A Biography, 1985
Lillian Ross, Portrait of Hemingway, 1961
Earl Rovit, Ernest Hemingway, 1962, revised edition with Gerry Brenner, TUSAS 497, 1986
Philip Young, Ernest Hemingway, 1952