Ernest Hemingway – The Man and His Work On July 2, 1961, a writer whom many critics call the greatest writer of this century, a man who had a zest for adventure, a winner of the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize, a man who held esteem everywhere – on that July day, that man put a shotgun to his head and killed himself. That man was Ernest Hemingway. Though he chose to end his life, his heart and soul lives on through his many books and short stories. Hemingway’s work is his voice on how he viewed society, specifically American society and the values it held. No other author of this century has had such a general and lasting influence on the generation which grew up between the world wars as Ernest Hemingway (Lania 5). The youth that came of age during this time came to adopt the habits, way of life, and essentially the values of Hemingway’s characters. The author , however, was just depicting his characters as he saw the typical American in the 1920’s. In his mind this meant a people filled with melancholy denial. Hemingway became the chief reporter of what became known as the “Lost Generation”. This phrase is attributed to Gertrude Stein, a friend of Hemingway’s, who meant youth, angry with life itself after the war; drowning themselves in alcohol; sleeping away the days and sharing their beds with a new partner each night. Thus, Hemingway depicts America as a society with a profuse amount of twisted values. A constant theme runs through all of Hemingway’s work. That man can be defeated but not destroyed. Once such novel that depicts this, as well as American values, is A Farewell to Arms. During the course of the story, the two main characters lieutenant Frederick Henry and nurse Catherine Barkley, become the victims of a cruel and hostile age. Their love story, which starts in a field hospital where the lieutenant is being treated for severe leg injuries, ends with Catherine’s death. She dies in childbirth but it is actually the war that condemns them both to destruction. After the Italian defeat at Caporetto, the lieutenant becomes a deserter. He flees with his now impregnated lover to Switzerland, but they cannot escape the despair and horror of the war. Their attempts to wipe it out by consuming bottle after bottle of alcohol has only ill effects. This novel is a drawn out definition of Stein’s generation. It is the story of a man torn apart by th...
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...nd. Though the unsympathetic world, and diseased mind, destroyed Ernest Hemingway’s flesh, his heart and soul were placed upon the page and will never be defeated.
Works Cited Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981. Hemingway, Ernest. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987 Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957. Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968. Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1980. Hotchner, A.E. Papa Hemingway; A Personal Memoir. New York: Random House Inc., 1966. Kraus, Michael. “World War I.” Colliers Encyclopedia. 1974 ed. Lania, Leo. Hemingway: A Pictorial Biography. New York: The Viking Press, 1961. Madden, David. A Pocketful of Prose, Vintage Short Fiction. Vol. 2. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1996. Tames, Richard. The 1920s. New York: Franklin Watts Inc., 1991. White, William. By-line: Ernest Hemingway; Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1967.
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