One of the most renowned American novelist and short-story writers during the 20th century was Ernest Hemingway. His name comes to mind when we think of great American writers. Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois and second of six children. Growing up in Oak Park, Ernest and other boys his age had a lot to live up to. The village of Oak Park had strict laws residents had to abide to ensure structure and discipline. Ernest’s mother was to thank for his creativity and father for his love of the outdoors. It appears the pressure his mother and father put on him fueled his desire to explore new opportunities. This would explain his passion as a thrill seeker and ways he found to cheat death.
Hemingway began his career as journalist for the Kansas Star, but after six months on the job left to join the ambulance corps in Italy. Ernest desperately wanted to join WWI, but his parents strictly forbid it. Ernest volunteered as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross and on June 1918 was hit by an Austrian mortar shell. He later returned to America to become a reporter. Hemingway moved back to Chicago where he was welcomed back with open arms. Ernest wrote for several years for the Toronto Daily Star and found writing to be his passion. This was another instance in Hemingway’s life where his parents did not approve, and his mother gave him an ultimatum to find a new job or move out.
Ernest Hemingway wanted a life of travel and leisure. Paris was something Hemingway connected to more than anywhere else. Paris was the epicenter for creativity during a time where many felt exiled by their own country. Some would agree that without Paris, Hemingway would have never come close to reaching his full potential as a writer. There were many qualities of Paris that attracted Hemingway as it was an inexpensive place to live due to the unpredictable salary of a writer.
While in Paris Ernest was met by well-known writers, including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein who claimed they could help him establish a career. In this way there was less pressure on money, which allowed Hemingway to use his time writing. Hemingway believed that the people of Paris were a different breed and felt more of a connection to the people than of America. Hemingway’s writing was influenced by his background in journalism and by Gertrude Stein. His impact on other writers came from his deceptively simple, stripped-down prose, full of unspoken implication, and from his tough but vulnerable masculinity, which created a myth that imprisoned the author and haunted the World War II generation (Blair and James).
Gertrude Stein impacted Hemingway’s love for Paris, as she introduced him to the lifestyle and other known artists of its time. This group of authors became known as the the Lost Generation. Gertrude Stein is well known for shaping young Hemingway into a full-fledged author and encouraged him to give up on journalism to write poetry using excerpts from his articles. It was then that Hemingway wrote his first book called Three Stories and Ten Poems. The Paris lifestyle began to catch up with Ernest and moved to Toronto to save up more money to return to Paris. Once he had saved up enough money he moved back to Paris with his wife Hadley and his son.
Hemingway returned to Paris for the sole purpose of writing. He became friends with Ford Madox Ford who edited his works. Hemingway’s work got the attention of F. Scott Fitzgerald who had just published his book, Catcher in the Rye. After a few months Ernest Hemingway wrote, The Sun Also Rises which was about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights. Both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway were critical of each other’s work. Hemingway once quoted, I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful; Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead. I think Scott in his strange mixed-up Irish catholic monogamy wrote for Zelda and when he lost all hope in her and she destroyed his confidence in himself he was through” (Diamond). These two were both in Paris at the pinnacle of their careers and it seemed fit that a quarrel would develop between the two. Their styles were completely different as Hemingway was known for personifying a Man’s Man while Fitzgerald was more of a playboy as he portrayed in his novel The Great Gatsby.
Hemingway’s life in Paris played a major role in his literary technique. The dream is pastoral: the innocence of his love for Hadley; the beauty of place-Paris and the Voralberg; the affection of friends. Discipline, imaged as hunger, spurs him competitively and pitilessly toward success but also toward mastery of a literary style (Waldhorn 13). The romance and emotions he felt in Paris were infused in most of his books. He connected with fellow writers in Paris including; Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Ford, and Scott Fitzgerald. Each of these writers impacted Hemingway greatly and helped turn him into such a great writer.
In conclusion, Paris was not only a place where he learned how to write, it was a place where he learned how to love. He fell in love with the feeling of romance Paris offered after the war. This love for Paris allowed his books to become reality. The people he met helped him create characters in his literary works. Hemingway would not be the accomplished writer we know today without Paris.
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