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Ernest Hemingway: Tragic Genius


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Ernest Hemingway:

Tragic Genius


студент группы 022.3



Томск - 2003

The reason that Hemingway meant so much to us," Archibald MacLeish,
the American poet, once observed, "was that his work reflected
truthfully and without rhetoric the faults and virtues and the essential
humanity of the people among whom he lived and that the power and
vividness of his writing was such that his work could and did break
through barriers of language and fogs of misrepresentation to touch men

Reporter, soldier, short-story writer, novelist, playwright,
deep-sea fisherman, and big game hunter, Hemingway was a man whose
unique mastery of the art of writing influenced the style of an entire
generation of writers. That influence spread far beyond the borders of
the United States and far beyond the English language. It is an
influence that persists today.

Ernest Miller Hemingway, one of six children, was born into the
family of a small town doctor at Oak Park, Illinois, on July 21, 1899.
He was active in sports; and under the guidance of his father, he came
to love the outdoors, becoming an excellent hunter and fisherman. His
parents wanted him to become a doctor or a musician, but after
graduation from high school, he began his writing career as a sports
reporter for the Kansas City Star.

When the United States entered World War I, Hemingway left his job
and tried to enlist in the army. After repeated rejections because of
his youth, he was finally accepted as an ambulance


driver with the Red Cross in Italy. Shortly before his 19th birthday, he
was badly wounded by enemy fire and spent several weeks in a hospital in
Milan. This experience would provide material for his future novel A
Farewell to Arms. After leaving the hospital, he enlisted in the Italian
Arditi, an infantry unit, and served until the Armistice on November 11,

Hemingway returned to Chicago in 1919 and then went to Toronto,
Canada, where he worked for the Toronto Star. Two years later, he was
appointed to the Sfar's international news bureau and was assigned to
Paris. From 1921 to 1927, he lived in Europe where he worked hard at
realizing his ambition to become a writer. Joining the literary circle
of expatriate American writers brought together by poet, author Gertrude
Stein, Hemingway profited from his association with writers like her,
Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He wrote his first three works:
Three Short Stories and Ten Poems (1923); In Our Time (1925), a
collection of short stories; and The Torrents of Spring (1926), a novel,

ort stories; and The Torrents of Spring (1926), a novel,
which went unnoticed by the public.

With the publication of The Sun Also Rises in 1926, Hemingway's
first major success, his reputation as a novelist was established. This
novel is considered by many critics to be his finest work. The hero of
the story, Jake Barnes, his sexual powers destroyed by a war wound,
faced, under unusually poignant circumstances, the problem which was to
be the theme of much of Hemingway's


later work: how man proves his manhood. Written in an original style,
the novel quickly influenced other writers. Keeping emotion restrained,
Hemingway emphasized his ideas through understatement. The American
novelist, James T. Farrell, credited Hemingway with contributing "toward
making the American •idiom the language for the evocation for sensitive
and complicated feelings."

In 1927 Hemingway published a collection of short stones called Men
Without Women. The following year he returned to the United States,
where he lived off and on for the next ten years at Key West, Florida.
There he worked on A Farewell to Arms (1929). The following passage from
the novel has often been pointed out as a statement of Hemingway's world
view as well as the key to the novel's meaning:

"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to
kill to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every
one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that
will not break it kills. It kilts the very good and the very gentle and
the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure
that it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."

In 1932 Hemingway published Death in the Afternoon, a moving study
of bullfighting, a subject in which he had shown a constant interest
both in his short stories and in The Sun Also Rises. "Bullfighting," he
wrote, "is the only art in which the


artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in
the performance is left to the fighter's honor."

From his home in Florida, Hemingway made many trips, including
several safaris to

Africa. Drawing on the experiences of these African trips, he wrote The
Green Hills of Africa (1935), a nonfiction book about "pursuit as
happiness," and two of his best short stories, The Snows of Kilimanjaro
(1936) and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1938). It is for
his short stories rather than his other works that Hemingway has
received some of his highest praise.

At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Hemingway went
to Spain to gather material for a film, The Spanish Earth, and returned
to that country the next year as a correspondent for the North American
Newspaper Alliance. Out of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War came
a play, The Fifth Column (1938), and his longest novel, For Whom the
Bell Tolls (1940). The latter work emphasizes the oneness of humanity

emphasizes the oneness of humanity
and the idea that a loss of liberty anywhere means the loss of liberty
everywhere. This idea is well expressed by the hero, Robert Jordan, as
he is dying:

" I have fought for what I believed in for a year now. If we win
here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the
fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.... I wish there were some
way to pass on what I've learned, though. Christ, I


was learning fast there at the end."

Critics have described this novel as a study in "epic courage and
compassion," and in it, according to some, Hemingway reached the peak of
his creative skill.

World War II saw Hemingway serving again in the role of war
correspondent. When the war ended, he settled in Cuba where he lived
until 1959.

During this period of his life at an old, somewhat dilapidated
estate called Finca Vigia, he talked with many of the fishermen at
nearby San Francisco de Paula. One of the stones he heard gave him the
idea of his short novel, The Old Man and the Sea (1952). The novel tells
of an old Cuban fisherman who, after a run of bad luck, hooks a giant
marlin. The story of the old man's struggle with the fish, of his final
victory which turns into defeat as sharks attack the catch and reduce it
to a skeleton, ends with the words, "Man is not meant for defeat. A man
can be destroyed but not defeated." The novel led to Hemingway's
receiving the Pulitzer Prize given each year for distinguished American

In 1954 the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize for
Literature for "his powerful, style-forming mastery of the art of modern
narration, as most recently revealed in The Old Man and the Sea." A
portion of his acceptance speech summarized his attitude toward his

"For he [the writer] does his work alone and if he is a good enough
writer, each book should be a new


beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment.
He should always try for ' " something that has never been done
or that others have tried and failed."

During the last years of his life, Hemingway was a figure of heroic
proportion. He had been honored internationally, and his rugged life
which he had lived presented the public with an image of a superman. Yet
Hemingway suffered fits of depression made worse by an increasingly
serious stomach ailment. Writing was becoming impossible as he realized
his own human weaknesses and frailties. On July 2, 1961, firing both
charges of a double barrelled shotgun, Hemingway committed suicide.

The literary historian, Max J. Herzberg, offers his assessment of
Hemingway: "...as the author's own life and personality begin to fade,
as they must, from the public interest, it is highly doubtful that his
work will fade with them. In all probability Hemingway's technical
achievement has been great enough so that his better books would survive

if only for the style in which they were written....His techniques, his
attitudes, his sensitivity to the spirit of the age, and to violence,
which has played such a role in it, conspired to establish him as one of
the greatest of modern writers, and the best of his work seems likely to
secure him a permanent and prominent place in the history of American


Key words


Emphasizes – выразительный

Honor – отвага

Humanity – гуманный

Influenced – влияние

Outstanding - выдающийся

Rugged – суровый

Struggle – бороться

To trip – путешествовать

Writer – писатель



Thomas Kral “Portraits in words”. Washington D. C. 1992.

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