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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

11. Modernist Portraits

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- Sherwood Anderson
- Hart Crane
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Susan Glaspell
- Ernest Hemingway
- Nella Larsen
- Marianne Moore
- John Dos Passos
- Gertrude Stein
- Wallace Stevens
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Young Hemingway (far right) with His Family
[3841] Anonymous, Young Hemingway (far right) with His Family (1906), courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Library.

Ernest Hemingway Activities
This link leads to artifacts, teaching tips and discussion questions for this author.
Hemingway once stated that his goal as a writer was to create "one true sentence." The characteristic pared-down style he developed influenced a number of subsequent authors. Known for his emotionally recalcitrant characters, Hemingway created stories of men proving themselves in physically demanding conditions and trying to come to grips with a world that after the horror of World War I seemed largely out of their control.

Born and raised in a Chicago suburb, Hemingway was one of six children. His father was a doctor and his mother a schoolteacher. Following graduation from high school, Hemingway worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, but remained there only a few months. The eighteen-year-old Hemingway intended to join the army when the United States entered World War I in 1917, but a problem with his eye disqualified him. Instead, he became a volunteer ambulance driver in Italy and later served in the Italian infantry. He was wounded by shrapnel not long after and carried a fellow soldier to safety despite his own serious injury. This event profoundly influenced his future thinking about himself and his place in the world; brushes with death and the idea of wounds, both physical and psychological, would haunt his later fiction. As the first American wounded in Italy, Hemingway became known as a hero, which also became part of the persona he adopted in ensuing years. After only six months abroad, he returned to the United States, feeling that he had changed significantly while America had not. He became a correspondent for the Toronto Star and in 1920 married Hadley Richardson. The couple moved to Paris, where Hemingway met many significant literary figures, including Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. Stein especially encouraged his literary efforts. Sherwood Anderson and F. Scott Fitzgerald read his work, gave him advice, and helped secure the publication of In Our Time, a collection of his stories.

The novel that established his reputation as a literary figure, however, was The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926. Written in what would become known as the "Hemingway style," the novel's terse prose and dialogue would pave the way for a new style of fiction writing, stripped-down and spare in comparison to the novels that preceded it. Men without Women, another collection of short stories, was published in 1927. A Farewell to Arms, about an American officer's romance with a British nurse, appeared in 1929. Hemingway's interest in politics heightened in the 1930s; between 1936 and 1939 he served as a newspaper correspondent in Spain, covering the Spanish Civil War, the setting of his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). During World War II he again served as a correspondent, and following the war he settled in Cuba. His marriage to Hadley broke up in 1927; he married three more times.

While traveling in Africa in 1953, Hemingway survived a plane crash, which injured him badly. His health was never fully restored, and in the 1950s, despite winning the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea and the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, Hemingway suffered from recurrent bouts of depression as well as paranoia. He committed suicide in 1961, at the age of sixty-two.

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