A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway


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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway
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Ernest Miller Hemingway was a man who loved what he did, and that was
writing. Not only that, he lived what he wrote, although many of the
stories embellish the truth. In fact "it's difficult not to confuse
him with the heroes of his books" who lived and loved hard, exactly
like Hemingway did (Sussman 21). This attitude was present all through
his many experiences from growing up, going through war, living
abroad, and writing through it all.

Author Ernest Hemingway entered the world on July 21, 1899 as the
second child of Dr. Clarence Hemingway and his wife Grace. Born in the
small town of Oak Park, Illinois, his birth seemed trivial to the rest
of the world. Yet, there would come the day when he would be known as
one of the most important writers in America, an icon in his own right
(Harmon 91). Before that came to pass, however, he was just a small
boy attending grade school with his "twin" Marcelline in Oak Park. His
sister Marcelline was not actually his twin but their mother raised
the two that way, for reasons unknown. Besides that confusing
situation, young Hemingway and his siblings grew up in a fairly
average home. As a high school student he participated in sports and
wrote constantly for the school paper. His family spent their time
during the summer hunting and fishing in Michigan, where they had a
cottage. He seemed to be growing up like any other average boy, "yet
there were signs of the determinedly self-defined man that he would
become."(Koster 16). One defining moment came when he took a boxing
class and as a result got banged up. He did not quit, but came back
for more. It was this "determination to face fear and pain"(Koster 16)
that allowed Hemingway to find a silhouette for his many heroic
characters.

A year after that encounter Ernest Miller Hemingway graduated from
high school, and in spite of his parents' wishes for him to attend

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college, he became a reporter for the Star, a Kansas City paper. On
his first day there he was given a list of dos and don'ts, he would
later refer to that list as "the best rules I ever learned for the
business of writing."(Harmon 88). While he loved his job as a
reporter, war was calling him, and although he could not be drafted
into the military due to poor eyesight, Ernest found a way to Italy
via the Red Cross (Harmon 88). A month into his service as an
ambulance driver in Italy he was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a
mortar shell. "The experience had a profound emotional impact on him,"
and he drew upon it when writing many of his stories (Sussman 21).
Upon returning to the United States after World War I, Hemingway,
worked for the Toronto Star.He also lived for a short time in Chicago
where he met and married Hadley Richardson in 1921.

The couple moved to Paris, where Hemingway served as foreign
correspondent for the Toronto Star. The Hemingways lived in Paris from
1921-1926. It was during this time that Hemingway wrote: Three Stories
and Ten Poems and the highly acclaimed In Our Time. These publishings
were also accompanied by the birth of his son John. Although they were
recognized stories, it was his novel The Sun Also Rises that gave the
author his solid reputation as a writer (Harmon 89). Hemingway
divorced Hadley Richardson soon after The Sun Also Rises was
published, and married Pauline Pfieffer, a writer for Vogue. In 1928
they moved to Key West, where sons Patrick and Gregory were born, in
1929 and 1931. 1928 was a year of both success and sorrow for
Hemingway; in this year, A Farewell to Arms was published and his
father committed suicide. This event shook Ernest in the wake of his
growing success. However, Hemingway n, using his own experiences with
bullfighting, big game hunting and deep sea fishing continued to
write. During this time he also sought to divorce Pauline for another
woman by the name of Martha Gellhorn, a journalist whose writing was
compared favorably to his ( Koster 28). In the 1930's, he turned to
writing for causes, including the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
In each conflict he wrote in support for the side he favored. While
reporting in Europe he also met and fell in love with his fourth and
final wife Mary Noel, a correspondent for Time (Harmon 91).

In the years following World War II, many critics said Hemingway's
best writing was past and that his paranoia had gotten the best of
him. But he surprised them all by publishing the novel, "The Old Man
and the Sea", about a poor Cuban fisherman's struggle to land a great
fish. This work led to his Pulitzer Prize in 1952. Two years later he
received the Nobel Prize in Literature (Sussman 21).

Hemingway's years after these awards saw few works as successful as
his earlier writings or novel. The effects of Ernest's lifelong
depressions, illnesses and accidents were catching up with him. As he
became less and less able to keep his depression at bay, Mary decided
to check him into the Mayo Clinic for electroshock therapy (Harmon
91). While this helped for a short time Hemingway was still in a
devastating state. In July 1961, seven years after winning the Nobel
Prize, a physically and mentally depressed Ernest Miller Hemingway
ended his life with a gun shot to the head (Sussman 21). But as he had
hoped, his writing lives on. His works continue to sell very well, and
he continues to be an influence to writers and readers alike, with his
literary style.


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