April 23, 2015

#04-009: Ernest "Papa" Hemingway

black-and-white photo of a mustached man in shirt sleeves, shown in profile and concentrating on what looks like two-fingered typing
Ernest Hemingway

Note: The wimpy, bespectacled writer hunched over his keyboard was transformed by Ernest Hemingway into the robust, manly man we picture writers to be today.

Get Ready: Do you prefer books where the heroes are men or women of action , or do you like the more introspective kind?

American author and journalist Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was born at almost the same time as composer Aaron Copland (1900-1990) and chemist Linus Pauling (1901-1994), but died around three decades before them. And "thereby," as Shakespeare said, "hangs a tale."

Hemingway was one of the first writers to portray himself as a hard-drinking, bar-fighting tough guy. Not a weak little fellow with glasses, but a manly man who participated in dangerous adventures and then put elements of them in his stories to share with his readers. (Jack London was another such writer.)

He wrote primarily from the mid-1920s, when he was living with the so-called "Lost Generation" in Paris, to the mid-1950s. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

Seven years later he killed himself.

Despite his success, his life had not been a particularly easy one. He was wounded while volunteering as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Italy during the First World War. From this experience came his book A Farewell to Arms (1929). Later, he observed battles and bombings as a newspaper correspondent in the Spanish Civil War, which inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). And after writing The Old Man and the Sea (1952, based on his experience in deep-sea fishing), he went hunting in Africa, where he was in not one, but two plane crashes. He was in pain and bad health for much of the rest of his life.

His private life was no more peaceful: he was married four times, and divorced three. He became a heavy drinker, and in the last year of his life was hospitalized twice for mental problems.

Finally, his mental and physical health a wreck, he took his own life at his home in the state of Idaho. Interestingly, his father (a physician), his brother (also a writer), and one of his sisters also committed suicide.

The "machismo" of Hemingway's life is reflected in his style--and his nickname. His work is known for using short, repetitive sentences that sound like a tale told by a vigorous working man, instead of the flowery words of the 19th century authors. And within his own lifetime, he became known as "Papa." Some have guessed that this might reflect his manliness; others, that he had a softer, more fatherly side, demonstrated in his storytelling like a father speaking to his children.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. ambulance
  2. flowery
  3. hospitalized
  4. journalist
  5. machismo
  6. primarily
  7. repetitive
  8. suicide
  9. thereby hangs a tale
  10. vigorous

  1. mainly; mostly
  2. using a lot of fancy words; ornate
  3. active; energetic
  4. a person who writes for newspapers or magazines
  5. put in the hospital
  6. an emergency vehicle designed for carrying sick people
  7. using the same words again and again
  8. manliness
  9. the act of killing oneself
  10. there is a story to be told about this

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for April 23, 2015

This lesson received 5 visits on my old site between April, 2016, and August, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. f; 2. b; 3. e; 4. d; 5. h; 6. a; 7. g; 8. i; 9. j; 10. c