Ernest Hemingway: A Biography

by Payton Guion

What's in the book?

Learn about the life and adventures of Ernest Hemingway

    • Introduction
    • Major Works and Accomplishments
    • Personal Life
    • News Coverage of Death
    • Public Statements and Attributed Quotes
    • Conclusion
    • Interesting Facts and Trivia
    • Sources

Description

ABOUT THE BOOK

In arguably his most famous work, Ernest Hemingway wrote, “A man can be destroyed, but not defeated.” It is perhaps this single line from The Old Man and the Sea that gives the most insight into the mind of one of the greatest writers in American history.

Hemingway was a man who rejected defeat at every opportunity. He was a man whose desire to be the best won him respect, but also lost him friends. He lived his life the way he wanted, rarely stopping to apologize. Even in death, Hemingway proved his determination, trying to take his own life at least twice before he ultimately succeeded with the final blast of a shotgun.

Hemingway served as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in WWI. While in Italy on duty, he decided that he was not near enough to the action and went closer to the front. Just as he got to the front, an enemy mortar shell exploded in close proximity to Hemingway. Despite being injured in the blast, Ernest found a young Italian soldier who was severely hurt and carried him to safety, taking several rounds of machine gun fire to his leg. For his bravery, Hemingway was awarded the Italian silver medal of valor.

While in the hospital still recovering from his injuries, Hemingway fell in love with a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. Ernest had to return to America, but he vowed that one day he would marry von Kurowsky. It was not to be, however, as Hemingway received a letter only months after returning home saying that his love had fallen for an Italian officer. He was devastated, and his initial broken heart may explain why he made a habit out of leaving women before they could leave him. Hemingway was married four times and had affairs in each of his marriages.

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

Hemingway was a man who rejected defeat at every opportunity. He was a man whose desire to be the best won him respect, but also lost him friends. He lived his life the way he wanted, rarely stopping to apologize. Even in death, Hemingway proved his determination, trying to take his own life at least twice before he ultimately succeeded with the final blast of a shotgun.

Hemingway served as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in WWI. While in Italy on duty, he decided that he was not near enough to the action and went closer to the front. Just as he got to the front, an enemy mortar shell exploded in close proximity to Hemingway. Despite being injured in the blast, Ernest found a young Italian soldier who was severely hurt and carried him to safety, taking several rounds of machine gun fire to his leg. For his bravery, Hemingway was awarded the Italian silver medal of valor.

While in the hospital still recovering from his injuries, Hemingway fell in love with a nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. Ernest had to return to America, but he vowed that one day he would marry von Kurowsky. It was not to be, however, as Hemingway received a letter only months after returning home saying that his love had fallen for an Italian officer. He was devastated, and his initial broken heart may explain why he made a habit out of leaving women before they could leave him. Hemingway was married four times and had affairs in each of his marriages.

Hemingway would again pick up arms and join in the fighting in both the Spanish Civil War and World War II, winning another medal in the latter. He befriended bullfighters in Spain, was present for the invasion of Normandy, and established his name in literature among the giants of the day in Paris. He survived a violent car crash in America, two plane crashes in Africa, and was feared dead when he spent 17 days lost at sea in the Caribbean before returning home with fantastic tales of adventure.

Even without his writing, Hemingway’s life would be a tale worth telling, but the experiences throughout his life inspired him to write the classics we have come to know him by. A Farewell to Arms is based on his experiences as an ambulance driver in Italy during WWI. The Sun Also Rises is pulled from Hemingway’s frequent trips from Paris to Pamplona for the bullfights. For Whom the Bell Tolls is written based on his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Hemingway was also an accomplished fisherman, and his fishing exploits inspired the final novel published during his lifetime, The Old Man and the Sea.

While these classic novels and many of his short stories live in the collective memory of America and the world, they lack significance without a brief understanding of the man behind the works. Hemingway was as fascinating a character as any of those within his writing and over the course of his lifetime he produced a writing style that has since influenced many writers.

Background and Upbringing 

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