Ernest Hemingway: Contribution as American Novelist

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      Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961), one of the best known and influential modern American writers was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899. His father Dr. Clarence Edmunds Hemingway, a physician, who was fond of hunting and fishing and introduced Hemingway to the outdoor life with its great immensity and he grew up in Oak Park, hunting in the woods, rowing, and fishing in the lake, and sleeping in a tent as like his father. He was educated in a local school and graduated from Oak Park High School in 1917. Hemingway was, however, usually more closely associated with Michigan rather than Oak Park as he spent many summers of his boyhood there and eventually set his stories there.

      Few writers have lived as colorfully as Ernest Hemingway. His career could have come out of one of his adventurous novels, like Fitzgerald, Dreiser, and many other fine novelists of the 20th century. Born in Illinois, Hemingway spent childhood vacations in Michigan on hunting and fishing trips. He volunteered for an ambulant Dreiser nice unit in France during World War I but was wounded and hospitalized for six months. After the war, based in Paris as a war correspondent, he met the expatriate American writers Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. Stein, in particular, influenced his sparse style. In his novel The Sun Also Rises (1926) he depicted the fighting in China in the 1940s. On a safari in Africa, he was badly injured when his small plane crashed; still, he continued to enjoy hunting and sport fishing, activities that inspired some of his best work. The Old Man and the Sea (1952), short poetic novel about a poor, old fisherman who heroically catches a huge fish devoured by sharks. It won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1953.

      In A Farewell to Arms (1929) is set mainly in war-torn Italy in 1917-18; the story focuses on Fredrick Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army. He meets a young English nurse, Catherine Barkley, at the military hospital and they begin a relationship which gradually becomes passionate. When Fredrick is severely wounded in any enemy mortar attack, is sent to Milan for surgery and Therapy. Catharine follows him and obtains a nursing position in the same hospital where he is being treated, before he returns to active duty Catherine informs him that she is pregnant by him. The two decide not to marry (as their private commitment is deemed to be bold enough), but look forward to the birth of their first child. Frederick returns to active duty but following disastrous engagements with Austrian forces; the Italians are compelled to retreat. Eventually, Frederick deserts and flees to the neutral Switzerland with Catherine. In Montreaux, they enjoy idyllic autumn and winter, remote from the direct impact of the war. In March 1918, Catherine gives birth, after a difficult labor and emergency surgery, to a stillborn son. She dies from complications soon after the birth. The story of the romance is set alongside a powerful portrayal of the horrors of war and its threat of the total destruction of civilization. The heroine, at the end, dies in childbirth saying “I’m not a bit afraid. It’s just a dirty trick.”

      He may way is arguably the most popular American novelist of this century. His sympathies are apolitical and humanistic, and in this sense, he is universal. His simple style makes his novels easy to comprehend, and they are often set in exotic surroundings. A believer in the “cult of experience.” Hemingway is very often involved his characters in dangerous situations in order to reveal their natures, in his later works, the danger becomes more obvious and occasion for masculine assertion. Like Fitzgerald, Hemingway became a spokesperson of his generation. Instead of painting its fatal glamour, as did Fitzgerald, who never fought in World War I. Hemingway wrote of war, death, and the “lost generation” of cynical survivors. His characters are not dreamers but tough bullfighters, soldiers, and athletes.

      He once compared his writing to icebergs: “There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.” Hemingway’s fine ear for dialogue and exact description that are shown in his excellent short stories, such as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Critical opinion, in fact, generally holds his short stories equal or superior to his novels. His best novels include The Sun Also Rises, about the demoralized life of expatriates after World War I; A Farewell to Arms, about the tragic love affair of an American soldier and an English nurse during the war; For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), set during the Spanish Civil War; and The Old Man and the Sea. In 1954 he received the Nobel Prize for literature. Discouraged by a troubled family background, illness, and the belief that he was losing his gift for writing, he shot himself to death in 1961.

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