HEMINGWAY, Ernest

(1899 - 1961)
 “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

Ernest Miller Hemingway was one of the most significant American authors of the 20th century, his writing and life having a profound impact on his fellow writers.  Whilst only 17 he went to work on the Kansas City Star, and this early journalistic experience led him to develop his distinctively stripped-down prose style.  In 1918 he enlisted in the Italian army as a volunteer ambulance driver and served on the front line.  He used his experiences of this time, along with his subsequent wounding and hospitalization, as the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. After the war he worked in Paris as a foreign correspondent, becoming part of what Gertrude Stein was to call “The Lost Generation” meeting such luminaries as Ezra Pound, F Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce and thoroughly associating himself with the Modernist movement. His first novel, The Sun Also Rises (published as Fiesta in the UK), was heavily influenced by the people and ideas he encountered at this time.  Whilst reporting on the Spanish Civil War he gathered material for his next great novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.  WWII saw him again in Europe as a war correspondent, and he was present at several of the war’s key moments, including the D-Day landings.  He finally won the Pulitzer in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, published in 1952, in which his straightforward prose, spare dialogue, and his predilection for understatement are particularly effective.  In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style".

The 1950s however, also saw the deterioration of his mental and physical health, in large part due to his alcoholism.  He finally ended his own life with a shotgun in 1961.

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Green Hills of Africa

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