F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, ‘This is to tell you about a young man named Ernest Hemingway, who lives in Paris (an American)... I’d look him up right away. He’s the real thing.’ This is perhaps the most prophetic statement Fitzgerald ever made in his lifetime, because Ernest Hemingway was indeed ‘the real thing’. Only months after that letter was written, Hemingway’s first book of short stories, In Our Time, was published, and so began the career of one of America’s
greatest literary heroes. The works that followed stunned audiences around the world
with the clear, concise language that was used, and the elaborate details that allowed
millions of people an in depth look into the life of an amazingly interesting man.
However, the perfection achieved in his literature was always out of reach to the man
himself. But Hemingway was able to use his real life tragedies and make them into
timeless masterpieces. That is why to this day it can be said that Ernest Hemingway is
the most influential American writer of all time (Turnbull, 167).
Born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899, Hemingway was raised to appreciate
the beauty of nature and the importance of spending time in the wilderness. This love of
the outdoors, including fishing and hunting, becomes quite apparent in his later pieces of literature. At the age of eighteen, Hemingway was stationed in Italy, during World War I, as a Red Cross ambulance driver. It was there that he first fell in love with Europe. He was immediately attracted to the beauty of the countryside and the elegance of the cultures there, and would later spend many years of his life on the continent. Herman Melville called the sea his “Harvard and Yale”, to Ernest Hemingway, the continent of Europe was his (Baker, 17).
Not long after his arrival, Hemingway was wounded by an Austrian shell as it
exploded nearby killing an Italian soldier, and blowing the legs off of another. The
details that followed have been disputed, but one source states that Hemingway, with
shrapnel embedded in his leg, carried two wounded soldiers to safety as machine gun fire
ripped through his already bloodied limb. It was at the hospital in Milan, while having
his leg tended to, where Hemingway first fell in love. She was a Red Cross nurse more...
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...ce slept, and to fish where he found the peace and serenity to write the perfect book.
Hemingway has been imitated, but never equaled, and it will probably be a very long time
before we see another American with his talent, intelligence, and lust for life, emerge
with a piece of writing that can thrill us like Hemingway can. Though biographical
information has been disputed (much due to the fact that Ernest was known for his
tremendous exaggerations), it has been said that “to find the truth (about Hemingway),
you must first look at his fiction”. Hemingway’s life is in his books, and we all have the opportunity to read it (Miller, 181).
Baker, Carlos Heard. Ernest Hemingway; A Life Story. New York, NY. Scribner. 1969.
Loscalzo, Jim. “Hemingway’s Cuba”. U.S. News and World Report. 26 May 1997. Vol. 122, P. 62.
Miller, Louis M. Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. Columbus, Ohio. 1983.
Nelson, Gerald B. Hemingway, Life and Works. New York, NY. Facts on File. 1984.
Sands, Garret. The Life and Times of Ernest Hemingway. San Francisco, CA. Eliot
Turnbull, Andrew. Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York. 1963.
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