Remembering Ernest Hemingway’s life on his birthday



Fri, 21 Jul 2017 - 09:06 GMT


Fri, 21 Jul 2017 - 09:06 GMT

Ernest Hemingway. Courtesy: Pixabay

Ernest Hemingway. Courtesy: Pixabay

CAIRO - 21 July 2017: For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms; these titles scream one name: Ernest Hemingway; one of the most influential American novelists in the 20th century.

The life of Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) feels like it is coming from a Greek tragedy. His early life was forged in the wild nature by his parents in Oak Park Illinois and he ended up killing himself in Ketchum, Idaho. In between these two points in time, Ernest (who by the way hated his name) was a volunteer in World War I as an ambulance driver, a wounded soldier, a journalist, a war correspondent, a novelist, a fisherman and a world traveler.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Hemingway
His effort in Italy during WWI earned him the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery for helping the Italian soldiers getting to safety and got wounded in the task. Later he observed that “When you go to war as a boy, you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you. Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you.” His Italian experience led to his novel A Farewell to Arms.

War was a major part in Hemingway’s life. He was the correspondent of the North American Newspaper Alliance during the Spanish Civil War, saw the destruction of hope of the Republican front against the Nationalists. He was present at the battle of Erbo the last Republican stand. From that experience the novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, came out. Published in 1940, it was turned into a huge successful classical movie starred by Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in 1943.

In World War II, Hemingway was present in the Normandy Landings, the liberation of Paris, covered the Battle of the Bulge and became the de facto leader to a small band of village militia in Rambouillet outside of Paris. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery during WWII, recognized for his valor and through his talent of expression He was able to give the readers a vivid picture of the difficulties and triumphs of the front-line soldier.

Hemingway is much more than a Pulitzer winner (1953) or Nobel Prize winner (1954) for the Old Man and the Sea respectively. His unique style was either emulated or avoided by writers who came after him.

After “The Sun Also Rises” was published and its success, he was the voice for the post WWI generation. Yet his books were burned in Berlin in 1933 as being a monument of modern decadence when the Nazi Party was on the rise. The real legacy of Hemingway is that he left stories so moving that it became part of humanity’s cultural heritage.

Hemingway suicide was the result of many factors. He felt watched by the FBI who had actually opened a file for him during WWII, the genetic disease hemochromatosis that ran in his family, which is the inability to metabolize iron culminates in mental and physical deterioration, [his father also killed himself as well as his brother and sister] and his continuous worry about money, made him struggle with his demons. The fact that he was a heavy drinker most of his life added to his problems.

In spite of his colorful life, being described as a bully and selfish, the Hemingway ‘industry’ was invented. The details of his life became a prime vehicle for exploitation. His name is related to literature research, academic studies, fishing competition and writing awards.



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