12 Mary, Adriana, and Across the River and into the Trees

It contains a philosophical expression of the Hemingway code of stoical endurance in a violent age: "The world breaks everyone," reflects the protagonist, "and afterward many are strong in the broken places.

Donaldson, Scott. By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Viking, 1977.
Photo provided by Flickr

Hemingway also had an insecurity about all things physical. He was perpetually trying to impress people with his athletic skill, his sexual prowess, his stamina, his muscle tone, and his ability to participate competitively in physically challenging activities like sportfishing and boxing. His obsession with the body led him to explore the physical in his fiction in ways that no one had ever done before, although that interest did not come into focus until after the period of his greatest productivity, 1926–1940. After 1940, he pondered this theme in his fiction—though he could never push through and actually publish most of this work, perhaps for the very reasons that drove his own physical insecurities. His obsession with the physical also probably accounted for his often harsh treatment of his wives and lovers, since all of those relationships—with the exception of his first wife, Hadley—were based largely on sexual attraction. His letters to his wives and wives-to-be are among the most passionate and heartfelt in all of literary history. He thought that love was both the sine qua non of human existence and the greatest deceiver. When his marriages collapsed, he spun downward each time, powerlessly caught in an inner cyclone of guilt, anxiety, and even grief. By the time his emotions were spent, he was spiritually and psychically empty, hollowed out like a drum.


"Ernest Hemingway and Bertolt Brecht" (Arbeiderbladet, 28 July 1964).

Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1972.
Photo provided by Flickr

Hemingway wrote about the purpose of his Spanish book, "It is intended as an introduction to the modern Spanish bullfight and attempts to explain that spectacle both emotionally and practically.


Infobase Publishing - Critical Companion to Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway is also one of the most written-about authors, in terms of both his life and his art. Yet, surprisingly, there has not been a single-volume biography of Hemingway published in almost twenty-five years. Most of his biographers have seemed to veer from one pole of critical approval to the other, either accepting wholesale—or with exaggerated winks and nods—the self-created legend of the hypermasculine hero, or disapproving of Hemingway by emphasizing the superficial image of him as a mean-spirited, alcoholic womanizer.

Ernest Hemingway - Biography, Quotes of Ernest Hemingway

His critical stature rests solidly upon a small body of exceptional writing, distinguished for its stylistic purity, emotional veracity, moral integrity, and dramatic intensity of vision.Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Ill., on July 21, 1898.

Ernest Hemingway Biography>The ..

Hemingway’s keystone subject was violent death. Plagued by depression and a history of mental illness in his family, Hemingway fought constantly against the insidious slow descent of what he called “the black ass,” which could envelop him in an instant in a fog of despair. The adventuring, the risk taking, the life lived large, was collectively a way of avoiding the dark places that he tried to steer clear of in his life, so that he could explore them with some measure of safety in his art. His writing was a means of connecting with deep, raw emotion; to him, this meant being truthful about what is real—true to what is. The dark call to die, yet the insistence upon continuing, like the offering and withdrawing of emotion in his fiction, is an essential rhythm of Hemingway’s life and art, just as are the silences that sit in his short, declarative sentences—a kind of concession to dread and, ultimately, mortality. It might not be too much to say that he was in some ways a nexus for death, for among the people whom he became close to, or who were part of his family, many were suicides. The psychic terrain that he lived in must therefore have been very hard for him to navigate while still remaining sane.

Ernest Hemingway Biography ~ The Last Days

Ernest Hemingway is probably the most famous literary figure of all time. Some might argue that Hemingway wasn’t the greatest American writer, or even the creator of the best American book. But Ernest Hemingway certainly is the American writer. He was the perfect blend of literary talent and iconic personality, and the contours of his life have become deeply etched in the American popular consciousness—from his vibrant, fledgling self in patched jacket and sneakers on the boulevards of 1920s Paris to his white-bearded, barrel-chested eminence in khaki shorts and long-billed fishing cap off the waters of 1950s Cuba. “Papa” still walks among us and looms large on the literary horizon—just as he wanted it to be.