A commanding presence in the literary world, Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) was a legendary ‘man’s man’ with many talents. His appetite for violence, alcohol and adventure manifested in both his stories and the way he lived his life, but why is he so famous?
As an American journalist, novelist and writer, Ernest Hemingway is famous for being one of the most popular writers of the twentieth century. In addition to his celebrated literary achievements, Hemingway gained notoriety for his hyper-masculine personal life and adventurous lifestyle.
Read on to learn more about why Ernest Hemingway is so renowned.
A Legacy for American Literature
If you took a literature class at any point in your college career, you’re probably familiar with Hemingway’s works. Characterized by deceptively simple sentences and blunt prose, Hemingway’s straightforward way of writing was unusual among his contemporaries.
He began his writing career as a journalist for the Kansas City Star and later said that this experience taught him to write a “simple declarative sentence”, greatly influencing his later writing style.
The celebrated novelist dealt with themes of war, violence, nature and death, pitting his leading men against immense struggles. The idea of ‘the Hemingway Hero’ emerged from his writing – a model man who, against all odds, never gives up.
Despite his legendary adventures and exploits, Hemingway still managed to be incredibly prolific. With works such as ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and ‘The Old Man and The Sea’, he had an immense influence on literature in the 20th century and continues to influence writers today.
Perhaps the greatest honour available to a writer, Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, ‘for his mastery of the art of narrative and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style’.
True to fashion, the infamous novelist was mostly concerned with the prize money and told friends, “I can have a hell of a lot of fun with thirty-five thousand dollars”.
The Man’s Man, The Myth, The Legend
Hemingway was undeniably a man’s man. With a penchant for drinking, fighting and war, he enjoyed a reputation as a notorious macho and was known to be fiercely protective of his public image.
When fellow writer Max Eastman wrote, ‘come out from behind that false hair on your chest, Ernest. We all know you’, Hemingway reportedly confronted Eastman, challenged him to remove his shirt and, on establishing himself to be the owner of the greater chest hair, allegedly hit Eastman in the head with a book.
Hemingway’s love for alcohol was no secret and further reinforced his boy boy image. In the Postscript of a letter in 1935 he wrote, “I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure”.
His love affair with alcohol was so well-known that it fuelled a popular myth. Amazingly the myth claims that Hemingway invented the ‘Bloody Mary’ cocktail at a glamorous bar in Paris, as a way to drink alcohol on the sly, against his doctor’s orders.
Completely at home in the outdoors, Hemingway’s love for hunting and fishing took him on adventures all over the world. His passion for boxing, however, was unmatched and he’s known to have said, “my writing is nothing, my boxing is everything”.
Hemingway was clearly a man of many hats, utterly captivating and larger than life, with a lot of life experience to inspire his writing.
The Great Survivor
A tough and charismatic war-hero, the legendary author pulled through a lot in his lifetime. He survived injuries from WW1, a bullet wound from a shark hunting trip, numerous concussions and malaria, amongst other illnesses. He even survived two plane crashes in two days.
The author tragically took his own life in 1961, after undergoing electric shock therapy as a patient at a mental health hospital, but his writing continues to influence all over the world.
A man of Immense literary talent with an undisputed legacy, there’s no doubt that Hemingway lived life to the full, and was very very good at it.