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Ernest Hemingway

Work

Hemingway's fiction usually focuses on people living essential, dangerous lives—soldiers, fishermen, athletes, bullfighters—who meet the pain and difficulty of their existence with stoic courage. His celebrated literary style, influenced by Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, is direct, terse, muscular, and often monotonous, yet particularly suited to his elemental subject matter.

Hemingway's first books, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), In Our Time (short stories, 1924), and The Torrents of Spring (a novel, 1926), attracted attention primarily because of his literary style. With the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), he was recognized as the spokesman of the "lost generation" (so called by Gertrude Stein). The novel concerns a group of psychologically bruised, disillusioned expatriates living in postwar Paris, who take psychic refuge in such immediate physical activities as eating, drinking, traveling, brawling, and lovemaking.

His next important novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929), tells of a tragic wartime love affair between an ambulance driver and an English nurse. Hemingway also published such volumes of short stories as Men without Women (1927) and Winner Take Nothing (1933), as well as The Fifth Column, a play. His First Forty-nine Stories (1938) includes such famous short stories as "The Killers,""The Undefeated," and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Hemingway's nonfiction works, Death in the Afternoon (1932), about bullfighting, and Green Hills of Africa (1935), about big-game hunting, glorify virility, bravery, and the virtue of a primal challenge to life.

From his experience in the Spanish Civil War came Hemingway's great novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which, in detailing an incident in the war, argues for human brotherhood. His novella The Old Man and the Sea (1952) celebrates the indomitable courage of an aged Cuban fisherman. Among Hemingway's other works are the novels To Have and Have Not (1937) and Across the River and into the Trees (1950); he also edited an anthology of stories, Men at War (1942). Posthumous publications include A Moveable Feast (1964, restored ed. 2009), a memoir of Paris in the 1920s; the novels Islands in the Stream (1970) and True at First Light (1999), a safari saga begun in 1954 and edited by his son Patrick; and The Nick Adams Stories (1972), a collection that includes previously unpublished pieces.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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