The Sabotaged Friendship of Authors Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson

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The Sabotaged Friendship of Authors Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson

Ernest Hemingway, an intrinsically gifted author in his own right, owes much of his early success to the mentor he befriended and eventually estranged, Sherwood Anderson. Hemingway’s renowned knack for sabotaging personal relationships throughout his life started early with Anderson. The two writers met in a suburb of Chicago named Oak Park while Hemingway worked as an editor for the Cooperative Commonwealth in 1919. Anderson would go on to help Ernest publish his first successful work (inspired by Sherwood’s own writing), In Our Time, but the friendship would come to an abrupt end in 1926 courtesy of Hemingway’s satirical jab at his former mentor in The Torrents of Spring.

Sherwood Anderson was a relatively well-established author when he met Ernest Hemingway. Before they encountered one another, Hemingway had already read Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Ernest “was a great admirer of [Anderson’s] work, particularly those tales which had sporting scenes for their backgrounds” (Schevill 153). Whenever the two were around each other, Hemingway was always “quiet and attentive” (Fenton 104), though Ernest’s friend, Kate Smith recalled: “It probably means a storm’s brewing” (Fenton 104). Hemingway would internalize all that he learned from his time spent with Anderson in Chicago. The two shared a similar interest in “sex as a basic human drive,...the examination of youth and its distresses,…[and] the importance of emotion and feeling” (Fenton 148). Anderson himself denied ever influencing Hemingway’s work “as a whole” (Fenton 105). Anderson merely recognized the talent that Hemingway possessed. Motivated by his appreciation...

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...rite to him that he meant the book as a joke, though Sherwood failed to recognize the humor in it. Anderson interpreted the book as a personal insult. The relationship between the two authors was never the same. Later in 1926, the two met in Paris over drinks, but Anderson noted that Hemingway had become “too self-centered, too concerned with his own career to the exclusion of personal relationships” (Schevill 238). The rift created by the Torrents of Spring would never be mended. Over the years, Anderson remained an avid fan of Hemingway’s work, but their friendship dwindled out of existence. Sherwood Anderson inspired multitudes of young writers: Faulkner, Joyce, Hemingway, Stein, to name a few, with his simple narrative tone and colloquial settings. Anderson served as the perfect mentor in cultivating the talented minds of some of America’s finest writers.

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