A revelatory look into the life and work of Ernest Hemingway, considered in his time to be the greatest living American novelist and short-story writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature in Mary Dearborn's new biography gives the richest and most nuanced portrait to date of this complex, enigmatically unique American artist, whose same uncontrollable demons that inspired and drove him throughout his life undid him at the end, and whose seven novels and six-short story collections informed--and are still informing--fiction writing generations after his death.
Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , pages. More Details Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Ernest Hemingway , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Ernest Hemingway: A Biography was a meticulously researched and comprehensive biography of a very complicated but charismatic man and one of America's greatest writers.
Dearborn weaves Hemingway's life throughout with his literary efforts and achievements. She does not shrink from chronicling Hemingway's life and four marriages in excruciating detail that leaves one cold. This is the first biography of Hemingway by a woman in which Mary Dearborn does add a new and fresh perspective.
He changed the way we think, what we look for in literature, how we choose to lead our lives. Even his place of birth, Oak Park. View all 7 comments. Mar 14, Tanya Eby added it Shelves: narrating. Narrating this was an extraordinary journey and made me feel, maybe for the first time, that I could connect with him not as a legend, or a male writer, but as a human being. Dearborn makes it clear that he was someone who was both flawed and perfect, burdened by mental illness and lifted by creative genius.
What a fascinating story. A fascinating life, well lived. Sep 13, Carol Storm rated it it was amazing. This is not a review of Ms. Dearborn's new biography, which I'm sure is a very valuable piece of Hemingway scholarship. Ernest Hemingway was a man who made lots of enemies in his life. And he knew it. The funny thing is, the people he hated the most when he was alive -- women, blacks, Jews, homos This is not a review of Ms. The funny thing is, the people he hated the most when he was alive -- women, blacks, Jews, homosexuals -- are not really the people who hate him the most now. John Banville is an Irish Catholic male writer in his eighties.
What on earth could Hemingway have said to make a decrepit old Irishman fighting mad? Banville points out that Hemingway spent most of his creative life in Europe, and that most of his best books are set in Europe. He seems to resent Hemingway as some sort of ugly American. Yet everything Hemingway ever had to say about Europe was positive. Whether he was in France, Spain, Germany, or Italy he always focused on the grace of daily life and the timeless beauty of the local customs.
Whatever his hatreds, Hemingway was sincere in his love of Europe and his admiration for the Catholic church. And I suspect that's what galls Banville. Hemingway the sincere Catholic convert reveals too much about the Catholic church that Banville the guilt-ridden Irishman would rather forget. It's not just the ugliness of Hemingway's casual anti-Semitism, which is the product of two thousand years of church teaching.
Or his hatred of women and revulsion from female sexuality, which also has deep roots in the Catholic church. No, the most unforgivable thing for Banville, I suspect, is that Hemingway revealed too much about the emptiness of the church itself. Our nada who art in nada nada be thy name. Read in context they don't really seem like an attack on the Catholic church.
Hemingway is just expressing how it feels to be dead inside and cut off from all hope. Or to be awake at night and unable to sleep. But to John Banville these are the casual, mocking words of a tourist who has just entered his home and tactlessly pointed out that cupboard is bare. And that the emperor has no clothes. What Banville hates is not Hemingway's lack of faith but his own, not Hemingway's connection to a corrupt and failed civilization but his own, not Hemingway's failures as a man, but his own.
Hail Banville full of Banville, Banville is with thee!
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View 2 comments. Aug 23, Gary rated it it was amazing. Very engrossing Other reviews complained about too much detail. If you don't want to read details don't read biographies. I loved it all. I enjoy hearing it all. Others complained about Hemingway himself. If you didn't know anything about him, then why would be interested in reading about his life??
Anyone that's read him,and done any research at all, already knows what kind of person he was. And he had many many health issues, also alcoholism, and on many dr Very engrossing And he had many many health issues, also alcoholism, and on many drugs that would affect a person's mind, much less the head trauma etc. I enjoyed this read a lot.
Jan 25, Quo rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed.
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And curiously, it began with an amazingly well-conceived preface by the author, one in which Mary Dearborn managed to encapsulate so much of the Hemingway aura in a way that seemed quite insightful. As Dearborn puts it while reviewing his early life in Paris, "Everyone would be drawn to this young man--eager to be part of his energy field. The dangers of retrospective diagnosis are duly acknowledged but it seems that E. Dearborn calls E.
His near death while serving in the ambulance corps in Italy during WWI is reckoned to have had an extreme impact, perhaps akin to Dostoyevsky's mock execution, a life-altering moment for both authors. While very taken by the things wealth can bring, he disliked rich people, suggesting that all classes were his province. Most of Hemingway's novels continue to sell well but he becomes increasingly adverse to criticism and oddly for a most public of figures, to public speaking. Hemingway is awarded the Nobel Prize in but is too frail to attend the award ceremony at that point.
Throughout Mary Dearborn's biography, she suggests that E. But E. Hotchner comments that for the author "it was like living in a Kafka nightmare, with fear hanging over him like a black cape. That said, I found the biography very compelling and written with an inviting neutrality I admire. And then sat down. It was difficult to determine the speaker's gender, only that it appeared to have recently changed. In the years to come, I would learn, in my study of Hemingway's life, what she or he meant.
View all 5 comments. Aug 13, Carl Rollyson rated it it was amazing. She does not tout her singularity as his first female biographer, but her gender makes a difference. She can put the question in a particularly authoritative way: What aside from the macho code and grace-under-pressure ethos remains of his reputation? She answers by showing how women deeply influenced him, especially his mother. He remained closer to his Oak Park, Ill. His hostility toward his charismatic mother is well documented, and yet, as Dearborn demonstrates, he was very much like her in his desire to be a cynosure, both inside and outside the family home.
Later Hemingway would pursue what Dearborn calls a hair fetish, again twinning himself with his wives. A singer, composer and painter, Grace Hemingway badgered her son about getting her work exhibited in Paris. He demurred at such delusions of grandeur, but they were nothing compared to his own in a lifetime of preening self- regard that might even be the envy of Donald Trump.
The Spanish Civil War, Dearborn contends, is the only time Hemingway committed himself to a cause greater than himself. For the most part, Hemingway became his own cause. With his fourth wife, Mary, he reverted to a pattern of expecting wives to obey his every whim. It is no wonder that such an autocratic view of marriage should, in the end, result in his tyrannizing of his last wife. He did gather some intelligence for the U. Buck Lanham, became dismayed at his shameless inflation of his war record.
The trauma of three brain injuries, the result of several accidents, his alcoholism, and manicdepressive illness debilitated a very strong and powerful artist capable of much insight in stories about the failures of his own character. But a more nuanced portrayal emerges in this empathetic, if still critical, study of a conflicted man and artist.
Jul 03, Stephen Davenport rated it it was amazing. My first introduction to Ernest Hemingway was as a 17 year old, reading "Farewell to Arms" during Study Hall in an all-boys boarding school. I hid the book in an over-sized three-ring binder so the proctor of the study hall wouldn't know I wasn't doing my homework. Suddenly, much of the fiction studied in our English classes felt smarmy to me, over emoted, while reading Hemingway, I felt liberated from the sentiments I was supposed to feel, but didn't.
The clean, sparseness of the writing, that My first introduction to Ernest Hemingway was as a 17 year old, reading "Farewell to Arms" during Study Hall in an all-boys boarding school. The clean, sparseness of the writing, that left so much unsaid, made reading authors like Charles Dickens feel like wading through mud.
I read Hemingway's other books and all his short stories, gobbling them up, going back to read them again and again. Like for a lot of males, he became my favorite author, a heroic example of how to live and how to write. Or so I thought - until reading Carlos Baker's biography I learned of his faults. It seems to me that what Mary V.
Dearborn brings to the forefront about those faults that Baker and the other biographers do not, comes from her perspective as a woman. She is, and I think, rightly so, less forgiving of those faults, which for the sake of anyone who has not read any biography of Hemingway, I won't spoil the experience by naming here. Her biography struck me as a deep dive into a very complex, tragic person, and major writer.
Apr 13, Glitter Glidden rated it it was amazing. Hemingway's latest biography dons a new lens through which listeners consider his life: from that of a woman.
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With the presumption that the culture to which Hemingway was exposed throughout his life influenced his writing, this particular perspective - a woman's - would reveal another look into the unique personalities of the famous writer, making him less a masculine idol and more a fallible, emotionally-driven human.
In particular, this one considers Hemingway's relationship s with the women Hemingway's latest biography dons a new lens through which listeners consider his life: from that of a woman. Considering the patriarchal culture in which he grew, Hemingway's approach to gender roles was conflicted. A unique perspective and enlightening read that all who have a remote interest in the writer should read! Mar 06, John rated it it was amazing. Mary Dearborn''s book is the best. All of the others -- more or less -- shun his nastiness, his abusive personality, his tendency toward egotism and emphasize his literary greatness.
Sometimes, they emphasize this as a way of distracting us from the stuff that would make us question Hemingway's qualities as a person. Mary Dearborn has found a way of telling us the truth about his personality and telling us the truth about his literary accomplishments. She points out the good in both and she doesn't shy away from the bad in both -- and trust me, there is bad in both.
I've read all of Hemingway repeated over the years, and I'll probably read him again, but I'll read him with new eyes, eyes that Mary Dearborn has given me. It's all true. Mary Dearborn unravels as much as can be currently done using the latest pieces of the puzzle that are gradually being unveiled to us through various other studies e. Dearborn does especially draw attention to Hemingway's androgynous hair fetish, the love-hate relationship with youngest son Gregory Gigi Hemingway who later transgendered into Gloria and the final sad years of mental illness which may have been triggered as early as the concussion injury sustained in a World War II London car crash.
Hemingway Vertical File | JFK Library
Much of what was written post-WWII was never published at the time and some of it only in posthumous heavily edited forms such as the gender bending The Garden of Eden probably too risque for both its late 40's writing time and the author's marketed image and the various edited versions of the final African journey True At First Light: A Fictional Memoir and Under Kilimanjaro.
The ongoing Hemingway Library Edition may yet show us more of those unknowns as well although the story seems to be never-ending. Whatever questions fascinate you about this one person's life can likely never be fully answered and the journey itself becomes the goal. In that I see Hemingway as a stand-in for all humankind. Even with all of this ongoing documentation he is still a mystery and the subject of endless curiousity for us.
Ernest Hemingway in Wyoming
I read "Ernest Hemingway" in hardcover by Mary V.. Dearborn in parallel with the audiobook edition narrated by Tanya Eby. The narration was excellent and clear and well-paced. ThereIsAlwaysOne Erratum pg. The second use of this one I believe cf. The Crook Factory. Jul 10, Bill rated it really liked it. I enjoyed this very much. Marketed as the first full Hem bio written by a woman I was curious as to what this new bio might add to the several other bios I've read. Happily this book did add a great deal to my thinking about Hem, though I am unsure whether this was a result of the author's perspective as woman or whether it was just a "damn fine" book.
Among the many areas that I felt were contributions beyond what I've previously read include: 1 Hem's relationship with his family, particularly I enjoyed this very much. Among the many areas that I felt were contributions beyond what I've previously read include: 1 Hem's relationship with his family, particularly his mother Grace; 2 How alcoholism, mental illness, physical mishaps all contributed to his narcissism and cruelty in personal relations; 3 His romanticism and how serial monogamy is different from womanizing. I was impressed by the author's ability to separate his writing from his personality.
In this sense she has transcended the host of frankly non-serious Hemingway critiques that evaluate the man of the 20's and 40's in terms of the morality of today. I must admit one point of difference with the author. Like many reviewers at the time she is very harsh on Across the River and Into the Trees. While I have no standing to disagree with her critique, I must remain a fan of this sad but for me very relatable work.
This new biography of Hemingway is somewhat revisionist, pushing against dismissals of Hemingway because of his character flaws including misogyny and chauvinism. The theme of separating Hemingway the writer from the Hemingway the deeply flawed human is intriguing here because it comes from Hemingway's first female biographer, Mary Dearborn.
She even places Hemingway's flaws in context, discussing the roles of alcoholism, possible family mental illness and repeated head injuries in his flawed li This new biography of Hemingway is somewhat revisionist, pushing against dismissals of Hemingway because of his character flaws including misogyny and chauvinism. She even places Hemingway's flaws in context, discussing the roles of alcoholism, possible family mental illness and repeated head injuries in his flawed life.
This is not to say that Dearborn minimizes Hemingway's flaws. She details Sherwood Anderson's kindness and successful advocacy of the then unknown Hemingway which was repaid by the then famous Hemingway with cruelty and a devastatingly critical review of one of Anderson's works.
Fitzgerald's genuine feelings of friendship toward Hemingway are recounted including his revisions of the Sun Also Rises. Most agree it was Fitzgerald's revisions that made it a masterpiece, but Hemingway repaid it with ridicule that was manifested in "Snows of Killmanjaro. Also, Dearborn resists the temptation of many biographers to become partisans of their subject, her discussion of the reference to Fitzgerald in Killmanjaro discusses its inaccuracy as well as its cruelty. Dearborn also has a twist to Hemingway's romantic exploits. She discounts many rumors of his affairs by noting his sexual happiness with his current wife at the time, noting that Hemingway was more of a serial monogamist than a constant philanderer.
While Frederic recovers from surgery and prepares to return to action, Catherine discovers that she is pregnant—a surprise that delights and frightens them both. Though the couple has escaped the war, there are dangers that cannot be anticipated or avoided. The final chapter is one of the most famous, and heartbreaking, conclusions in modern literature.
This rather simple plot does not explain the appeal of A Farewell to Arms. It is Hemingway's writing style that transforms the story into a great tragedy. The critic Malcolm Cowley considered it "one of the few great war stories in American literature; only The Red Badge of Courage and a few short pieces by Ambrose Bierce can be compared with it.
He once described his method this way: "I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it under water for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. Ernest Hemingway in Paris, Photo courtesy of the John F.
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Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Ernest Hemingway may have been the most famous novelist in the English language during his lifetime. Idolized by readers, envied by fellow writers, and adored by many for the romantic lifestyle that he created for himself, Hemingway the writer must always be distinguished from Hemingway the public figure.
The first was a sensitive and exacting artist; the second was a larger-than-life image maintained for tabloid consumption. As early as , Dorothy Parker was moved to remark: "Probably of no other living man has so much tripe been penned or spoken. The adulation that Hemingway inspired is not difficult to explain. By turns tough and tender, he lived a life of exuberant masculinity—which included hunting for big game in Africa, for Nazi submarines in his fishing boat off Key West, or for the best bar in Paris. He celebrated bullfighting, boxing, hunting, and even warfare as manly pursuits worthy of respect.
His years were rife with adventurous accident, including an anthrax infection while on honeymoon in France, and two successive plane crashes on safari. Second-degree burns resulting from a bushfire accident prevented him from traveling to Sweden to accept the Nobel Prize. He was an intellectual and a celebrity, and one of the few Americans to find both roles congenial.
He married four times and lived to see 18 of his works published. He died a millionaire, a close friend of movie stars such as Gary Cooper, and a winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. In many ways, his career was the stuff of legends.
The six-toed cats and me: writing in Ernest Hemingway’s Key West studio
Such success did not, however, alleviate his personal struggles. For a man so publicly celebrated and revered, he could be curiously reticent—he wanted no biography written about his life, and he left a will that blocked any publication of his letters. His later years were marked by severe depression, for which he underwent electro-convulsive therapy. Suffering from acute paranoia, he believed for a time that federal agents were after him.
Years of alcoholism and organ damage wreaked havoc on his body; digestive complications, high blood pressure, and failing eyesight troubled him constantly. Whether fishing for marlin off the coast of Cuba, hunting lions in Kenya, or attempting to do something no one had done before in the medium of fiction, Hemingway tried to live up to his own high standard. He endured on the earth for nearly 62 years before the impulse toward suicide overcame him, as it had overcome his father.
The quotes below, drawn from interviews, essays and his books, bear the essence of the philosophy that motivated his life and his exceptional fiction. From The Old Man and the Sea :. By John.