In the 1900s, Ernest Hemingway was one of the most famous American writers. Hemingway was a very influential spokesman for the Lost Generation. In Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises, the element of the Lost Generation is displayed through the characters' thoughts and actions.
Ernest Hemingway was a famous American novelist and short story writer. Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois; he was the first son of Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and Grace Hall Hemingway. He went to public school through his high school years. When he graduated, he sought for a more independent life, so he skipped college and moved to Kansas City, where he got a job as a reporter for “The Kansas City Star.” While in Kansas, he tried to register to be in the military but was rejected multiple times. Even though he couldn't be a soldier, he still helped the military by becoming an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. Ernest was injured on the Austro-Italian front at Fossalta so Piave in July of 1918; he was not yet 19 years old. He was sent to a hospital in Milan and was decorated for his heroic efforts. While in the hospital, he fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross Nurse. Ernest was so in love with her that he asked her to marry him, but she declined. This traumatic experience will never be forgotten.
After he recovered from his injuries, Ernest moved to Chicago and continued to write while working different jobs; composing his books took up most of his years after the war. To expand his writing career, he sailed to France to be a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Star. While in France, he was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. The enthusiasm helped him write his own books. His first important book was a collection of books called In Our Time, and it was published in 1925 in New York City. His first serious success was The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926. Hemingway remained in Paris, but he enjoyed traveling to experience his favorite activities like skiing, bullfighting, and hunting. One of his famous works was Death in the Afternoon, and it was inspired by his love for bullfighting. Hemingway took a safari trip from 1933 to 1944 in Tanganyika; this trip prompted his next book, Green Hills of Africa. All of these past times became the backgrounds for plenty of his literary works.
Throughout all the years of Hemingway’s life, he was fascinated by war. Ernest Hemingway used his experiences from WWI to compose one of his most memorable books, Farewell to Arms. This literary piece brought back his experiences in the war, particularly the almost loves story between him and the red cross nurse. His love for war persuaded him to insert himself into the Spanish Civil War; he was a correspondent for it. Ernest visited Spain a lot to write about the war, but his last visit to Spain was for his pleasure. His love for the country coaxed him into buying an estate in Havana, Cuba; the estate was named Finca Vigía which means ”lookout farm.” From his love for Spain and the information he acquired from the war, he wrote a novel For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1940. The article states, “Through dialogue, flashbacks, and stories, Hemingway offers telling and vivid profiles of the Spanish character and unsparingly depicts the cruelty and inhumanity stirred up by the civil war.” (”Ernest Hemingway”[Britannica])
Following the Spanish war, he moved to London to be a journalist. This was also the time WWII started. Hemingway participated in several missions with the Royal Air Force, and he traveled across the English Channel with some American troops on D-day, June 6, 1944. He wanted to be the action, so he affixed himself into the 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. Ernest experienced a lot of action in Normandy, and he partook in the liberation of Paris. Even though he was only labeled as a journalist, he had a lot of knowledge in “military matters, guerrilla activities, and intelligence collection.” (Young) Hemingway also impressed trained soldiers in his courageous efforts during the battle.
After WWII, Ernest retreated back to his Cuban estate. He began to work on his stories seriously while still traveling. His hard work has finally paid off because he receives a Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his story Old Man and the Sea in 1953 and a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Searching for a quieter life, he moved to Ketchum, Idaho in 1960. His efforts for a quieter life was sadly denied because he started to struggle with anxiety and depression. He was twice hospitalized and received electroshock treatments. Unfortunately, the treatments did not help him, and two days after he was released from the hospital, he took his life with a shotgun.
Ernest Hemingway was married and divorced three times: Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn. His last wife was Mary Welsh. He also had three sons: John, Patrick, and Gregory. His legacy lives through his family and the numerous followers of his work.
During the time of Ernest Hemingway’s books, a new literary movement was formed. Modernism is the time period linked to the time after WWI. According to writer Kathleen Kuiper, “The enormity of the war had undermined humankind’s faith in the foundations of Western society and culture, and postwar Modernist literature reflected a sense of disillusionment and fragmentation.” The main purpose of this literary period is to break away from the past, the world war, and search for unique and interesting forms of expression. Authors that were famous during this time period were Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Darwin, and Friedrich Engels. These writers exhibit “an interest in experimenting with new ways of using language and literary forms.” (Beasley) Author William R. Everdell tracks the heritage of modernism. He writes that this time period lies “in an often profound rethinking of the whole mindset of the nineteenth century.” (Anderson) In Ernest Hemingway’s writings, he used very modern techniques, specifically manners that we're easy for readers to comprehend. As many authors and writers of this time period say, “Modernism is timeless, not limited by a span of years...” (Anderson)
The characters in Ernest Hemingway’s stories symbolize his own beliefs and perspective of life. The main character in The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes, is a young man “whose strength and self-confidence nevertheless coexist with a sensitivity that leaves them deeply scarred by their wartime experiences.” (Young) Many readers call this recipe for his characters the “Hemingway Code.” To survive in a world that is filled with so much hostility and bitterness, they have to perform with heroism, mental and physical strength, and grace. They should have, “Grace under pressure,” (Kramer) meaning they should show no extreme emotion in threatening situations. This code is for a character who experiences an “unreasonable wound.” (Pidgeon) These characters have a strong mind, but they are really reserved on the outside. Due to the fact that many people were traumatized from their experiences from the World War, they had to have a stable mind to get through their suffering. For Hemingway, brutality and war were a very dominant symbol in his world. Ernest Hemingway viewed war as “complex, filled with moral ambiguities, and offering almost unavoidable pain, hurt, and destruction.” (Young) This is why the Lost Generation is such a prominent part of his writings. Ernest Hemingway even uses the phrase, “you are all a lost generation,” (Saltzman) to further emphasize the importance of this term.
The Lost Generation were young men who were involved in WWI in some way. For the most part, this generation is addressing the American writers that were living in Paris in the 1920s. However they participated in the World war, wether it was being fully involved in combat, being a family member of a soldier watching on the outskirts of war, they departed from war disillusioned and hateful. World War 1 hangs over the characters in The Sun Also Rises. In Georgina Parfitt’s literary analysis of the Lost Generation, she explains that “in losing their belief in the ideals, structures, and nationalism that drove self-identity in the time before WWI, they seem to have lost the core of themselves.” Because of their disillusionment, they're always on the edge, looking for an escape because they feel they don't belong anywhere. To try and fill their void, they would spend their time partying and drinking. The book suggests that their excessive drinking is an inadequate method to try and cope. The activities the characters participate in could be seen as “youthful pursuits, ” (Parfitt) However, the coping mechanisms that the characters engage themselves in becomes a constant repetition. They become exhausted and empty in trying to figure out how to escape their never-ending life of disillusionment.
The novel The Sun Also Rises serves as a perfect example of the post-war generation. Jake, the main character, is a prime representation of how people will forever be affected by the war. Jake’s injuries from combat leave him feeling helpless and upset, and it's difficult for him to try and stop thinking about how his injury happened and why it happened to him. To try and forget about his injuries, he drinks and parties with his friends. Everyone in Europe was behaving like this because they had the same injuries as Jake, whether it was physical or mental injuries. Critic Sibbie O’ Sullivan said that the book was, “modern-day courtesy on how to behave in the wasteland Europe had become after the Great War.” (”The Sun Also Rises” 324) Jake Barnes is an attempt by Hemingway to try and clarify the war for readers and explain how broken some people were after the war had ended. Most of the people that had survived the war were left with very little; their old lives were destroyed. Even though the new world made the characters lose their hope of a better world, they needed to realize that this is how they need to view the world now. They need to see that the world is broken, just like they are, and build a new life fore themselves.
Overall, the aspect of the Lost Generation is clearly demonstrated in the novel The Sun Also Rises. The literary one period of modernism helps further explain the lost generation and how it breaks away from the past, or before the war. Ernest Hemingway is certainly a significant writer in his and our time.
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