counter Ernest Hemingway: A Biography - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Ernest Hemingway: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

The first full biography of Ernest Hemingway in more than fifteen years; the first to draw upon a wide array of never-before-used material; the first written by a woman, from the widely acclaimed biographer of Norman Mailer, Peggy Guggenheim, Henry Miller, and Louise Bryant. A revelatory look into the life and work of Ernest Hemingway, considered in his time to be the grea The first full biography of Ernest Hemingway in more than fifteen years; the first to draw upon a wide array of never-before-used material; the first written by a woman, from the widely acclaimed biographer of Norman Mailer, Peggy Guggenheim, Henry Miller, and Louise Bryant. 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 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. 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.


Compare

The first full biography of Ernest Hemingway in more than fifteen years; the first to draw upon a wide array of never-before-used material; the first written by a woman, from the widely acclaimed biographer of Norman Mailer, Peggy Guggenheim, Henry Miller, and Louise Bryant. A revelatory look into the life and work of Ernest Hemingway, considered in his time to be the grea The first full biography of Ernest Hemingway in more than fifteen years; the first to draw upon a wide array of never-before-used material; the first written by a woman, from the widely acclaimed biographer of Norman Mailer, Peggy Guggenheim, Henry Miller, and Louise Bryant. 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 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. 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.

30 review for Ernest Hemingway: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    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. "Hemingway w 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. "Hemingway was without question one of the greatest American prose writers. He changed the way we think, what we look for in literature, how we choose to lead our lives. He changed how we see Paris, the American West, Spain, Africa, Key West, Cuba, northern Michigan. Even his place of birth, Oak Park. . . . was part of what made Hemingway, and we will always see it differently for his presence."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Quo

    Mary Dearborn's Ernest Hemingway: A Biography represents a masterful & revealing profile of a highly gifted & exceedingly complex American literary figure, perhaps the 1st Hemingway biography by a woman, at least the 1st one I am aware of. This is a book I meant to skim while reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast but which quickly captured my interest in spite of its 600+ page length. And curiously, it began with an amazingly well-conceived preface by the author, one in which Mary Dearborn manage Mary Dearborn's Ernest Hemingway: A Biography represents a masterful & revealing profile of a highly gifted & exceedingly complex American literary figure, perhaps the 1st Hemingway biography by a woman, at least the 1st one I am aware of. This is a book I meant to skim while reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast but which quickly captured my interest in spite of its 600+ page length. 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. He would be more curious than anyone you'd met & the life before him would take on the outlines of a great adventure." Dearborn goes on to say that Hemingway became "a symbol of male potentiality, with the landscape he occupied gaining color & dimension & it seemed that the world did not stop noticing him even with his tragic death in 1961." But while he captured & held the public imagination, "always it seemed a different Hemingway", with the portrait seeming to change shape from the WWI young man on crutches to the personification of the "Lost Generation", in time shifting to his exploits with bullfighting in Spain, a politically engaged reporter detailing the Spanish Civil War, a "fighting journalist" during WWII, the big game hunter in the African bush & finally transforming into "Papa", the bearded, white-haired legend of the post-war Cuban years. But with Hemingway's literary output, his quest to relate stories with a different vision & a voice that is "true" (his definitive word), at some point in the midst of "unfolding his brilliant career, a tragedy began to take shape". As Mary Dearborn relates it: Ernest seemed to find it difficult to give & receive love, to be a faithful friend, and perhaps most tragically, to tell the truth, even to himself. While still in his 40s, he had done himself out of many of the rewards of the good life: he had 3 failed marriages, few good friends, was not writing well & had surrounded himself with flunkies & sycophants. He was burdened by serious physical injuries, including multiple concussions--which would today be called traumatic brain injuries, whose scope & variety are only now beginning to be understood. The dangers of retrospective diagnosis are duly acknowledged but it seems that E.H. suffered from mental illness that included mania & depression so severe that at times it became psychotic. His habits of mind, the limits of the psychopharmacology of his day & the desire to avoid embarrassing himself as a public figure made it impossible for him to get the help he needed. His later fiction indicated a persistent confusion about gender identity, or to put it more positively & progressively, an openness to fluidity in gender boundaries.Dearborn takes us at great length through Hemingway's life & times, his struggles to fit in with his family & the Chicago suburb of Oak Park as well as the beloved summer home in Michigan, to be a good son & "a good Christian." However, a great deal of Hemingway's personality seems to take a clear path when he leaves home, initially to work as a reporter in Kansas City & particularly after E.H. marries Hadley & they steam off to Europe, living as "starving artists" while benefiting from Hadley's trust fund, the 1st of numerous contradictions. The biographer also notes that while Hemingway is cast as one of the pioneers of modernism, "he was never a modern man when it came to psychology--his characters exhibiting plenty of neurosis, imbalances & derangements but never seeking psychological explanations." There are many references to Hemingway's "hair fetish" & its evidence within novels, something seen as a lifelong preoccupation with testing the boundaries between sexes, perhaps partly the result of his mother's "forced twinship" with his sister Marcelline. (She was a year older but Hemingway's mother wanted twins & so kept her daughter out of school for a year so that they could be in the same class.) Dearborn calls E.H. a "serial monogamist", not particularly given to affairs or womanizing. She mentions that Hemingway was a visionary writer & always seemed to observe more than others did. 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. Hemingway seemed to strive to be above politics & abhorred the loss of life in the Spanish Civil War, sensing in it the coming of a much greater European conflagration. While very taken by the things wealth can bring, he disliked rich people, suggesting that all classes were his province. In late middle age & particularly after a jeep crash resulting in another serious head injury while reporting on & taking part in WWII invasions, Hemingway's charisma remains but his behavior becomes increasingly irascible and his speech patterns begin to change. E.H. becomes fixated on the use of the words true, truly & truth, using them with "metronomic regularity" at times. 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 1954 but is too frail to attend the award ceremony at that point. In the interval following WWII, there have been more concussions, one the result of a fall and two crashes while he & his wife were passengers in small aircraft while touring East Africa, one of which caused the press to assert that the author had perished. Throughout Mary Dearborn's biography, she suggests that E.H. was "a man of great extremes, including depressions, moments of rage & great egotism". But E.H. Hotchner, who became a close & dear friend late in the author's life & wrote two excellent books on the author, including the wonderfully illustrated Hemingway & His World states that "Hemingway had the most inquiring mind of anyone I've ever seen." However, by 1959 Hemingway had become increasingly paranoid, worrying that the CIA was stalking him. Hotchner comments that for the author "it was like living in a Kafka nightmare, with fear hanging over him like a black cape." Hemingway's 4th & final wife served increasingly as a caretaker, especially when the author lost almost all of his possessions, African trophies & manuscripts included, when his home in Cuba was seized following the coming of Castro, someone he had initially praised, much to the consternation of many American political figures. I enjoyed Mary Dearborn's biography very much but felt that she became rather bogged down in chronicling each of Hemingway's many novels & retelling the family history, even though with something of a different perspective. I would rather that she had concentrated more on her own personal vision of the author, his head wounds & their possible impact on his life, interactions with friends & fellow authors & artists, the hair fetish, etc. saving perhaps 200 pages. That said, I found the biography very compelling and written with an inviting neutrality I admire. So many potential readers become quickly distracted by the author's often boorish behavior, his four wives & other details of his life that they are sadly, unable to really consider the gift of his prose. At other moments, Hemingway took pains to befriend & to help many younger writers. Perhaps the complexity & the contradictions constituted an important facet of Hemingway's nature, something that allowed him to create memorable characters & to write in the manner he did. Dearborn's preface is one of the most meaningful I have ever read & it ends this way, recasting a panel on Ernest Hemingway at New York's Mercantile Library, wherein near the end of a discussion of Hemingway's various novels, whether he & other "dead white males" should continue to be read, whether E.H. has any residual relevance for today's readers, when just as the session had begun to dissolve, an older professor got the attention of the moderator & stood up to announce:"I would just like to say that Hemingway made it possible for me to do what I do." After some additional commentary, echoing the professor who had said earlier that Hemingway made it possible for him to do what he did, another person stood up & expressed that "Hemingway had made it possible for me to be who I am". 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.Reading this & other thoughts on an author whose complex persona is indeed controversial but whose books continue to help readers to define themselves was part of the reason I found myself drawn into the Hemingway biography by Mary Dearborn and for that matter, why I read the books that I do. *1st photo image within review is the author Mary Dearborn; the 2nd=E.H.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Eby

    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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    This is not a review of Ms. Dearborn's new biography, which I'm sure is a very valuable piece of Hemingway scholarship. This is a response to Irish author John Banville's vicious take down of Hemingway in THE NATION, which was ostensibly a review of this undoubtedly fine biography. https://www.thenation.com/article/wha... 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. Dearborn's new biography, which I'm sure is a very valuable piece of Hemingway scholarship. This is a response to Irish author John Banville's vicious take down of Hemingway in THE NATION, which was ostensibly a review of this undoubtedly fine biography. https://www.thenation.com/article/wha... 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, 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. He even makes his hero a Catholic in The Sun Also Rises, and a Catholic priest is the most admirable character in A Farewell to Arms. 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. "Hail nada full of nada, nada is with thee. Our nada who art in nada nada be thy name." These words are from "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" which is one of Ernest Hemingway's greatest short stories. 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!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Very engrossing...fantastic....enjoyed it immensely. 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...fantastic....enjoyed it immensely. 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 drugs that would affect a person's mind, much less the head trauma etc. I highly also suggest you read STRANGE TRIBE by John Hemingway, (a grandson),and RUNNING WITH THE BULLS by Valerie Hemingway, secretary to Papa,and later his daughter in law. I enjoyed this read a lot.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carl Rollyson

    Ernest Hemingway’s legacy endures in Mary V. Dearborn’s cautious and yet exhilarating new biography. 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., origins than is commonly s Ernest Hemingway’s legacy endures in Mary V. Dearborn’s cautious and yet exhilarating new biography. 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., origins than is commonly supposed in previous biographies. 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. Hemingway’s need to break out of the suburban complacency of his early environs seems, in part, attributable to his mother’s influence, although Dearborn nowhere makes that argument explicit, and it seems doubtful — judging by his testy letters to Grace Hemingway — that Hemingway ever realized his debt to her. She dressed the young Ernest in girls’ clothes and made him a kind of twin to his oldest sister. Later Hemingway would pursue what Dearborn calls a hair fetish, again twinning himself with his wives. This blurring of genders did not fully enter his work until after the Second World War in posthumously published novels such as “Islands in the Stream” and “The Garden of Eden,” both of which reflect, in Dearborn’s words, a courageous engagement with transgender issues, which his son Gregory also grappled with in ways his father seems to have tolerated surprisingly well at first, although they later had a falling out. 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. Dearborn does not blink at her hero’s huge flaws — the constant lying about his exploits that also resulted in his demeaning of competitor friends like F. Scott Fitzgerald — but he is still a hero, often generous and devoted to his art, if also a man not always worthy of his best self, exposed in this biographer’s expressions of regret rather than condemnation. Hemingway’s sentimentality dooms later work such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (the cloying romance of Robert Jordan and Maria) and the atrocious “Across the River and Into the Trees” (a World War II colonel finds redemption in the love of a young girl) that falls well below the austere standards of “The Sun Also Rises” and his subtle stories. 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. And while that may sound like a terrible egoism, it also made him an inspiration not only to generations of men but women as well, as the biographer’s deft treatment of Hemingway’s third marriage shows. Martha Gellhorn wanted to believe in her husband’s greatness, and their marriage foundered when she saw that he could not rise to her idealization of him. 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. And yet he was redoubtable in a crisis — saving Mary’s life when her doctors had given up hope and patiently nursing his son Patrick through a psychotic episode. Dearborn discards various sensationalistic reports in other biographies, such as Hemingway’s supposed work as a spy in China and World War II. He did gather some intelligence for the U.S. government and also for the Soviet Union — mainly, it seems, because both countries were antifascist, Dearborn concludes. Hemingway’s fatal decline comes at the end of World War II, when even his best friends, the poet Archibald MacLeish and Gen. 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 the origins of his downfall appear fairly early — after “A Farewell to Arms” (1929) when he became a bull-fighting aficionado and big-game hunter. The superb sportsman and diagnostician of the human condition in the Nick Adams stories that compose much of his groundbreaking short story collection, “In Our Time,” dissipated in three undisciplined books: “Death in the Afternoon,” “The Green Hills of Africa” and “To Have and Have Not.” The first two nonfiction works failed to create the kind of artistic form that Norman Mailer shaped out of his journalism in books like “The Armies of the Night,” notes Dearborn, who has also published a Mailer biography. As for the novel, the characters seem largely unrealized and transparently thin in an effort to concoct a narrative about a working man/fisherman that suited the fashion for proletarian fiction. The estimation of Hemingway’s place in American fiction — the esteem his short stories still commands — is not altered by this biography. But a more nuanced portrayal emerges in this empathetic, if still critical, study of a conflicted man and artist.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lowell White

    Sensitive, insightful, and really really terrific. The bio Hemingway deserves.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Davenport

    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. 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 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Faye Glidden

    Hemingway's latest biography dons a new lens through which listeners consider his life: from that of a woman. 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. 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 in his life as the primary reason he couldn't/didn't write any stories with a strong female heroine. 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!

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    I've been reading Hemingway biographies since the late 60s when I read Carlos Baker's Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. 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 p I've been reading Hemingway biographies since the late 60s when I read Carlos Baker's Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan Teder

    "There's no one thing that's true. It's all true." - Ernest Hemingway Hemingway's version of "truth" draws a lot from the line in the film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": "When legend becomes fact, print the legend." He was inventing his own mythology before he was even out of his teens, transforming a one-week stint as a Red Cross ambulance driver in World War I into an enlistment in the Italian Army serving in the elite special forces of the Arditi Corps. Another 40+ years of tale-spinn "There's no one thing that's true. It's all true." - Ernest Hemingway Hemingway's version of "truth" draws a lot from the line in the film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": "When legend becomes fact, print the legend." He was inventing his own mythology before he was even out of his teens, transforming a one-week stint as a Red Cross ambulance driver in World War I into an enlistment in the Italian Army serving in the elite special forces of the Arditi Corps. Another 40+ years of tale-spinning to friends and journalists and the blurred crossover of non-fiction into fiction in many of the short stories and novels complicates the task of all of the subsequent biographers. 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.g. those such as Ernest Hemingway's a Moveable Feast that examine the veracity of A Moveable Feast, the ongoing & continuing Letters project The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 4, 1929-1931: 1929-1931 (4 of 17 published as of September 2017) and the recent memoirs and biographies that have focussed on specialized topics and themes e.g. Hemingway in Love: His Own Story, Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961, The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War, Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961. 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. 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. 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. 428 "...the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1941." As most with a heritage from the Baltic States or Eastern Europe will know, the Hitler-Stalin Pact actually dates from August 22, 1939. Trivia Great use of a "Crook Factory"/"Operation Friendless"/"Hooligan Navy" image as the cover photo. The second use of this one I believe cf. The Crook Factory.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    3.5 stars. So rich in detail, and yet left me feeling like he could never truly be known, which is probably true for most people in life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    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. 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 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. As an older man (and a non-literary type) I am very moved by ACIT. While I have no standing to disagree with her critique, I must remain a fan of this sad but for me very relatable work.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    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. 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 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." An example of the fine detail in this biography is Dearborn's notice that in the first publishing of the story, Hemingway ridiculed Fitzgerald by name while his editor, Max Perkins, forced the deletion of "Scott" when the story was published in the collection of stories. 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. This does not minimize his brutal treatment of his wives, with only Martha Gellhorn giving as much as she got, it also does not ignore the affairs that Hemingway did have. There is excellent analysis of Hemingway's writing that includes a weaving of his personal life into his fiction. For example she discusses by name the people who inspired the characters in "Sun Also Rises" and where the novel tracked real life and where it did not. While she could not do in depth analysis of all his short stories, the ones she picked were also my favorites including Big Two Hearted River, A Clean Well Lighted Place, and Short Happy Life of Frances Macomber. The one strong disagreement I had with her was with her analysis of the ending of "For Whom the Bell Tolls." She finds that the ending was about the suicide of Robert Jordan and comparing it with the suicides of people in Hemingway's family. My reading is that Robert Jordan desperately wanted to live, especially given his new love with Maria. It was the wound he received from the fascist soldiers that made him stay to fight to give the others time to escape and he passed on the easy suicide of shooting himself or having Pablo shoot him so that he would endure the pain and wait for the oncoming Fascists to slow them down even though it exposed him to a much harsher death. But that is a delight of this book, it engages the reader, makes the reader think by offering a balanced view of a brilliant writer and complicated, flawed man

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are a fan of Hemingway, I implore you to buy this as a necessity. (If you are not a fan of Hemingway, I still recommend it as an exemplary work of biography!) Dearborn defines the pinnacle of scholarly ability, crossed with an understanding of pop accessibility, with the contents of this text. Every page is chock-full of anecdotes from interviews, notes and nods to writers near Papa's circle, Dearborn's own reading of many other Hemingway biograp I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are a fan of Hemingway, I implore you to buy this as a necessity. (If you are not a fan of Hemingway, I still recommend it as an exemplary work of biography!) Dearborn defines the pinnacle of scholarly ability, crossed with an understanding of pop accessibility, with the contents of this text. Every page is chock-full of anecdotes from interviews, notes and nods to writers near Papa's circle, Dearborn's own reading of many other Hemingway biographies, and the similarities/disparities between H's life and the words he chose to write in his semi-autobiographical books. Perhaps the most interesting recurring thread was the way that H's novels employ 'real life' events and people, while distorting them to fit his increasingly self-centered persona. Dearborn excellently parallels H's fiction with the non-fiction of his actual life. Honestly, I was astounded by the level of detail contained in this book. I felt that I was truly coming to know the man himself because of Dearborn's clear depth of research. One of the strongest contributing factors, I felt, was the inclusion of direct quotes as well as observations and impressions from H's acquaintances, friends, wives, colleauges, etc. Instead of feeling separated by an academic veneer, readers will feel as though they are coming to learn about the man by hearing stories told by friends. It is impossible to understand the so-called 'Lost Generation' without the mutual contextualization that many writers provided for each other. The book is pleasantly peppered with myriad references to other works, as befits Hemingway's lifelong tendency to absorb many other writers. Throughout my reading of this book, I ordered and read a handful of other books that were referenced within (a few of H's books I had not read, as well as some Josephine Herbst and John Dos Passos - writer friends of H's who received nods in this biography). If you are a bibliophile, this book will give you many, many ideas for your reading list. The one potential downside of this book for some readers may be the sheer length. Clocking in at over 600 pages - of fairly dense non-fiction - it may be daunting for some, but is well worth it. I do not count that as a weakness, because Dearborn's shining attention to detail deserves every paragraph that was published. Hemingway had a truly fascinating life, Dearborn has a gift with the pen, and readers will feel invested up until the bitter end. Obviously, this book was written for fans of Hemingway's writing and his legendary life. However, even readers without a knowledge of his work will be able to enjoy this book for the sheer quality of storytelling and research. Five stars for Mary Dearborn!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    I never was a Hemingway fan. Having to read The Old Man and the Sea in 10th grade bored me. He and Zelda Fitzgerald were enemies and I was team Zelda and preferred her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald's writings. In one of the few biographies on Hemingway written by a woman, Dearbon paints a fascinating psychological portrait of Hemingway, his four wives and his family. Whether you love or hate Hemingway after reading this painstakingly researched novel, you will realize what made him tick. I never was a Hemingway fan. Having to read The Old Man and the Sea in 10th grade bored me. He and Zelda Fitzgerald were enemies and I was team Zelda and preferred her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald's writings. In one of the few biographies on Hemingway written by a woman, Dearbon paints a fascinating psychological portrait of Hemingway, his four wives and his family. Whether you love or hate Hemingway after reading this painstakingly researched novel, you will realize what made him tick.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Lindquist

    Hemingway had an extremely interesting and complex life, so it would be hard to write a poor biography of the man. I was disappointed, however, that his first female biographer couldn’t come up with a new or different perspective on his life—at the very least, perhaps clearer insight into his relationships with the women in his life. By the end of the book, I found myself wishing I had read a biography of each of his wives instead.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Nutting

    Overwhelming and way too long. I made it to page 445 and then skimmed. What I took away from this biography was that the author could have been describing Donald Trump. Hemingway was egotistical, arrogant, rude, vulgar, a misogynist ( in spite of numerous wives and love affairs), adored sycophants and turned on anyone who defied him - sound familiar?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Judith Reveal

    Excellent book, well written, easy to read. Learned lots about Hemingway that I did not know. Mary Dearborn did an excellent job of taking the reader through Hemingway's extremely complicated life. This one definitely belongs on your shelf! Excellent book, well written, easy to read. Learned lots about Hemingway that I did not know. Mary Dearborn did an excellent job of taking the reader through Hemingway's extremely complicated life. This one definitely belongs on your shelf!

  20. 4 out of 5

    tortoise dreams

    The life story of Nobel Prize winning American author, Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). Book Review: Ernest Hemingway: A Biography is touted as the first of Hemingway in 15 years, and the first by a woman. Here we have both access to new material and a more insightful and sympathetic view of Hemingway's mental illness. Mary Dearborn makes a strong case that he was both manic depressive, alcoholic, and gender dysphoric. Suicide and mental illness were prominent in his family. Dearborn is fair, though The life story of Nobel Prize winning American author, Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). Book Review: Ernest Hemingway: A Biography is touted as the first of Hemingway in 15 years, and the first by a woman. Here we have both access to new material and a more insightful and sympathetic view of Hemingway's mental illness. Mary Dearborn makes a strong case that he was both manic depressive, alcoholic, and gender dysphoric. Suicide and mental illness were prominent in his family. Dearborn is fair, thoughtful, sensitive, and a thorough researcher -- I had no complaints with this except for, at 700+ pages, the occasional cry of "too much!" But when a biographer is writing for the record, for scholars, the public, and posterity, she has to include even the tiny (but often telling) details. It's easy enough to breeze over those parts if the reader only wants the meat. There may not be many earth-shaking revelations here, but there is a good deal of setting the record straight based on new information, and it looks as if more may be trickling out over the coming years. Ernest Hemingway: A Biography tries to focus on the creation of the writer: what made Hemingway, as an author, tick?There is no deep analysis of Hemingway's writings, nor does Dearborn dwell overlong on the semi-legendary events of his life. Instead she looks to see what influences formed him as a writer: his childhood, his newspaper work, the wives, the wars. Although Dearborn doesn't shy away from the sensational, even tawdry, parts of his life, she doesn't wallow in it either. There are, however, factors she mentions that I now won't be able to disregard as I read his books. The book gives especial attention to Hemingway's four wives, each new relationship starting before the previous one had ended: Hemingway hated to be alone. Dearborn lets us virtually see his life through the eyes and lives of his wives, showing how deep these relationships were. He also inspired great love and loyalty, even if he didn't always return it. Hemingway was a serial monogamist, not a ladies' man. He was courageous. An alcoholic. He could be cruel to friends and those who helped him. Early in life he was often manic, but later in life his depression began to take over. Gertrude Stein was his son's godmother. Even early on acquaintances felt he was hiding a sensitive or vulnerable side by overacting the macho man. He was jealous of Fitzgerald's success. He had a lifelong tendency toward androgyny ("entangled with issues of gender, sexual identity, and sexuality."). Even in the 1930s (as today) critics attacked the man along with his work; as one said "Perhaps we really do know too much about Hemingway, or at least his public poses, to judge his work impartially." He probably suffered several traumatic brain injuries over his life, which were seriously aggravated by his alcoholism. My negatives list for the book is short, minor, and typical of biographies these days. First, as about half of all biographers seem to do, Dearborn refers to her subject by his first name, as if he was a friend or family member. Second, she occasionally wildly speculates about events and motivations with no evidence whatsoever, as if sitting over coffee or perhaps chatting in a book club. Although neither of these are rare, neither do they seem suitable for an author attempting a definitive work. But quibbling aside, although a lengthy and detailed book, which required some dedicated pushing through, it was never dry or boring, just long. Mary Dearborn is equitable and unbiased, mixing the bad and the good in proper measure, and her analysis is perceptive and generally accurate. If you have the time, and are interested in a reappraisal of Hemingway, this is the book for you. I've been wanting to read Hemingway, and when I saw this I thought it might be a good place to start. We'll see. Given the the treasure chest of information I now have, I'm curious if Ernest Hemingway: A Biography will enrich my reading, or distract. [4½★]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Míceál Ó Gealbháin

    The newest full biography of Hemingway in a number of years. Quite a bit of new material including information regarding is physical and psychological condition in his later years and a look into his posthumous writings. Worth taking a look.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Hatt

    This book explains why Hemingway is the greatest author ever to live, and everyone else is wrong.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I must admit that when I started reading Dearborn’s biography of Ernest Hemingway I did not expect much. There certainly is not a dearth of biographies that have followed Carlos Baker who drew the basic outlines of Hemingway’s rise and fall. And just in the last few years new biographers have added to the list—writers as James Hutchisson, Verna Kale and Steve Paul. But not long into the work it became clear that Mary Dearborn is a new voice with a new perspective. She gives us a new Hemingway fo I must admit that when I started reading Dearborn’s biography of Ernest Hemingway I did not expect much. There certainly is not a dearth of biographies that have followed Carlos Baker who drew the basic outlines of Hemingway’s rise and fall. And just in the last few years new biographers have added to the list—writers as James Hutchisson, Verna Kale and Steve Paul. But not long into the work it became clear that Mary Dearborn is a new voice with a new perspective. She gives us a new Hemingway for the current age in a single volume. Baker’s outline is still here but Dearborn offers new shades and textures. Some of it made possible by exhaustive archival research that opened previously unanalyzed or under-analyzed documents. She is certainly detailed but her details are well-considered and in their collectivity lead us to new understandings and insights. And her critiques of Hemingway’s major works are crisp and insightful. Here the beginning of her review of For Whom the Bell Tolls: Although For whom the Bell Tolls is Hemingway’s longest novel, it is also his most tightly constructed, and his most straightforwardly written—its art is not so much in the “leaving out” as his other works. It contains many powerful narrative and descriptive passages, and is laced with his love of Spain and Spaniards exemplified by Pilar and other members of her band. But the book is riddled with melodramatic flaws and bad authorial decisions. Beyond the actual text, the volume itself includes footnotes, a bibliography and an index, the latter often frustratingly absent from some other recent non-fiction publications.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Blake

    Exhaustive in detail and exciting for the more recently uncovered information, this text is also perhaps the most anti-hagiographic book on Hemingway ever written. Get ready for some psychoanalysis, too: Dearborn variously diagnoses Ernest with gender dysphoria, a hair fetish, PTSD, CTE, BPD, and alcoholism, in that order, and what's more is she's (circumstantially) pretty convincing on all counts. Persona deflation and forensic psychiatry aside, Dearborn never convincingly captures what was so Exhaustive in detail and exciting for the more recently uncovered information, this text is also perhaps the most anti-hagiographic book on Hemingway ever written. Get ready for some psychoanalysis, too: Dearborn variously diagnoses Ernest with gender dysphoria, a hair fetish, PTSD, CTE, BPD, and alcoholism, in that order, and what's more is she's (circumstantially) pretty convincing on all counts. Persona deflation and forensic psychiatry aside, Dearborn never convincingly captures what was so compelling about the guy to the people in his orbit, or why he became such an outsized legend, and clearly doesn't even like much of his writing. I recommend this as a chaser after any opposing, fawning biography, or even just as an impressive casting of 21st Century shade on the grandest literary celebrity of the 20th, but wouldn't start here on nonfiction about Hem or read it at all without working familiarity with most all of the dude's ouerve.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Curtis

    A long book but was well written and interesting, even though I'm not a huge Hemingway fan. A long book but was well written and interesting, even though I'm not a huge Hemingway fan.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    A well researched and very thorough picture of Hemingway's life. The book is very dense, but still readable and compelling. Hemingway was a very flawed and, especially when viewed from the outside and without his charms to try and win you over, a very unlikable man, but his impact on writing is undeniable and his life was certainly an adventure. A well researched and very thorough picture of Hemingway's life. The book is very dense, but still readable and compelling. Hemingway was a very flawed and, especially when viewed from the outside and without his charms to try and win you over, a very unlikable man, but his impact on writing is undeniable and his life was certainly an adventure.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stan Shelley

    A marvelous biography about a bizarre man. She has done her research, written very well, and she has not chosen a pet issue to hammer into the ground.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Ernest Hemingway, a Biography By Mary V. Dearborn I purchased this book as soon as I found out that it had been published. For years I have made a point of reading or watching everything about the man. By my late forties I had decided that there were parallel threads to both our histories. Not that I was as abusive or as talented as ‘Papa.’ It was something more vital than that. I’ll have more to say about that toward the end of this book review. I was anxious to read this book since it was the f Ernest Hemingway, a Biography By Mary V. Dearborn I purchased this book as soon as I found out that it had been published. For years I have made a point of reading or watching everything about the man. By my late forties I had decided that there were parallel threads to both our histories. Not that I was as abusive or as talented as ‘Papa.’ It was something more vital than that. I’ll have more to say about that toward the end of this book review. I was anxious to read this book since it was the first biography of Hemingway that had been written by a woman. Finally, a different view of manufactured “machismo”. This version details a man who defined a lifestyle in the 20th century from a female insight. Others have done similar work with the same basic research materials. They were all men. Ms. Dearborn had the added advantage of the Cuban materials, articles and exposes. His home in Cuba, Finca Vigia, has been a museum since 1961, with plenty of research materials stored and cared for. Now that Cuba has been opened by the Obama Administration, they should have been available. It has been my experience that when men speak or write about Hemingway, it is always with a level of hero worship. There is always the sense that the authors were establishing a pecking order or as Papa might put it, “a pissing contest.” There is always an envy factor involved when it comes to Ernest Hemingway. Not with Ms. Dearborn. ‘Papa Hemingway,’ written by A. E. Hotchner, for me, was the perfect example. Mr. Hotchner was his biggest admirer, protégé and best friend for fourteen years. Naturally he wasn’t going to expose any deep dark secrets, especially about his sex life with proclivities. That said Ms. Dearborn’s version of Hemingway’s biography was an excellent read with plenty of the new perspectives not previously mentioned or written about. The early years of family life was very detailed, setting the foundation for later life. The ‘Alpha’ of the family was his mother, Grace, yet he continually made efforts to please his father. Maybe understated by Ms. Dearborn and most others was that his mother Grace dressed Ernest and his sister in female clothing. Not stopping there, she called him her ‘Dutch Doll’. One of the most influential incidents of his young life was not attending college. He blamed his mother for this. Evidently she opted to build a summer cottage rather then send him off to be enriched. The combination of being socially, therefore emotionally abused and neglected when it came to college, created a lifelong attitude toward his mother. He never failed to call her “that bitch.” The seminal event of his life occurred on the Austrian Front in Italy during World War I. He was an ambulance driver with the International Red Cross. While he moved from one position to another, distributing chocolates and cigarettes, he was violently interrupted by an Austrian Mortar Shell that landed only a few feet away from him. The burst of energy knocked Ernest unconscious. Once he regained awareness he observed two Italian Soldiers. One had expired. The other had his legs traumatically amputated. A third soldier caught his attention. The man had survivable wounds. Not being aware of his own wounds, he proceeded to pick the soldier up with intention of delivering him to a First Aid Station. This happened with over two hundred shrapnel wounds in both legs. Stumbling toward to the First Aid Station, Ernest was hit again in the legs. This time it came from an Austrian machine gun. This second injury terminated his heroic effort to help the soldier. Now, they both needed help. Whether he was able to carry the soldier at all, let alone any further, has been debated and speculated about ever since. This was the pivotal event of Mr. Hemingway’s history. The events as recorded happened. Whether the facts were expanded upon by Hemingway is inconsequential. He was awarded the Italian Silver Medal of Valor with the official citation reading as follows: “Gravely wounded by numerous pieces of shrapnel from an enemy shell, with an admirable spirit of brotherhood, before taking care of himself, he rendered generous assistance to the Italian soldiers more seriously wounded by the same explosion and did not allow himself to be carried elsewhere until after they had been evacuated.” From that point on Ernest Miller Hemingway would begin his long bitter/sweet passage into American History. The journey was assisted and enhanced by his talents for writing and self-promotion. In 1923 Mr. Hemingway made his first trip to Pamplona, Spain. It was a secondary experience of a lifetime. I’m sure it brought back all the adrenal fluids that had evaded him since July 8, 1918. The ideas of death, avoiding it and bravery all came flooding back like the shock of hysteria, into his psyche. This episode was the impetus for “The Sun Also Rises.” An exciting work highlighting drinking, fighting, running with the bulls, love, love lost and betrayal. I personally believe the experience, of 1923, cemented a formula for Hemingway. I think he found that if he wrote about life in the extreme, death dying, love and loss, he could not avoid success. He was correct. My impression of Ms. Dearborn’s descriptions of his marriages is that his first wife, Hadley Richardson, was his true love and the one he felt guiltiest of divorcing. His fourth and last wife, Mary Welsh, was his care taker and the one he verbally abused and socially embarrassed the most. She probably loved him more then he loved himself. According to Ms. Dearborn, World War II was the beginning of the end for Mr. Hemingway. He became ‘Papa’ in Cuba in the 1940’s and remained with that moniker for the duration of his life. Ms. Dearborn describes his auto accident in London which concussed ‘Papa’ severely enough to put him into the hospital. His irreverence and complete disregard for his condition in combination with his overinflated ego driven desire to be involved in the largest invasion of all time, took him out of his hospital bed and into the action. This was the dumbest and most impetuous act of his life. He was still suffering from the concussion and needed weeks to recover. He chose to enhance is stature among men and the literary society. Ms. Dearborn identified five major head traumas. Without question, they were severe and would lead anyone to believe that ‘Papa’ was affected by ‘CTE’ or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, as we know it today. I would add that severe head trauma was sufficient enough to cause his mental deterioration of the 1940’s and 50’s. In addition to the recorded events, there were supplemental explosions during his hotel stay in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. Not to mention, the running with the bulls in Pamplona of 1923, World War II experiences that involved any number of explosions and his boxing experiences, including a sparring match with Gene Tunney, and others. In order to demonstrate his “Machismo” and leave no doubt of his endurance, he developed the trait of self-destruction. Perhaps he always was self-destructive. From his decision to “join the War in Europe,” to the aircraft accidents in Africa, he demonstrated, effectively, that his safety was secondary to his public image. The winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature must have been a surprise to him and everyone around him. It wasn’t a planned stand-alone book. It was in fact, a piece of a larger work that he delayed out of mental and emotional indecision. If you take the time to read “The Old Man and The Sea,” and you have the imagination to read between the lines, you can envision the story is a metaphor of his life. The Old Man was “Papa.” The boy was all of his friends that he ignored from time to time. The “Big Fish” was the title of “Writer or Author.” And the Sharks were the critics, publishers, public and friends that all wanted a piece of him. The Old Man’s reading of the Dolphins, currents, weather and eating was his description of his struggle to become what he wanted to be . . . Author. He even writes what he felt in the text of “The Old Man and The Sea.” Preparing to go to sea, “It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.” After he hooked the fish and began the fight to bring him in. “Let him think I am more man than I am and I will be so.” Once he killed the fish. “I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm.” From his involvement in World War II thru to his suicide was the worst period in time of his unraveling, mentally, physically, socially and professionally. According to Ms. Dearborn’s well chronicling “Papa” fit a number of diagnosis’s as described in the ‘DSM’ or The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The worst of which was mentioned but not officially made by any doctor was ‘Psychosis’ or ‘Psychotic’. Ms. Dearborn plainly indicates that many mentioned or suggested but nobody wanted to paint ‘Papa’ into that kind of social straight jacket. ‘Papa’ took about twenty years to pay for his impulsive, cavalier, “devil may care” decisions and behavior. The same youthful behavior that made him larger than life, would eventually destroy him. To sum up, Ms. Dearborn has written an insightful chronology of Ernest Miller Hemingway’s travails thru life. From her perspective I thoroughly enjoyed and learned, maybe more than I wanted, surely more than I expected. I’m not a writer or businessman. As a consequence she lost me during ‘Papa’s’ early years while he maneuvered himself into being published consistently. I personally would not have been able to deal with him as a publisher or editor. I certainly would not have been able to deal with any his frustration of being rejected. Two points that were not touched on in this mammoth undertaking and a third remains controversial. They were his activities as an Intelligence Agent, the contents of his FBI File and the weapon that he committed suicide with. It seems that he not only worked for the US Government but also for the Soviets. The US involvement was complicated and more enduring then the Soviets, reaching from the Spanish Civil War, World War II in Cuba and Europe, extending into China with his third wife Marth Gellhorn. These adventures are better investigated in “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures,” by Nicholas Reynolds. The FBI Files are a different story. J. Edgar Hoover was a strange man. He kept a file on ‘Papa’ (FBI # 64-23312) and his final entry into the file was as follows; “Knowing Hemingway as I did, I doubt he had any Communist leanings. He was a rough, tough guy and always for the underdog.” The controversy of the weapon is convoluted. Mary Hemingway ordered the shot gun destroyed by a local machinist, once ‘Papa’ was buried. It seems the craftsman followed instructions and cut it up, buried the remains in a field. However, he kept some identifying parts as “souvenirs”. The whole episode is documented in “Hemingway's Guns: The Sporting Arms of Ernest Hemingway” by Silvio Calabi, Steve Helsley, and Roger Sanger. (Review) Ms. Dearborn’s work should open a series of other works, for years to come. A man’s life, simple or complex, doesn’t get explained away, unless done by a multitude of perspectives. With her effort, she has opened eyes and minds. Well done, Ms. Mary Dearborn. Addendum: As I mentioned earlier, there were common events and attitudes that paralleled my life to that of ‘Papa’ Hemingway’s life. I enlisted in the US Navy as a junior in High School. I was seventeen years old. I went to war in my 19th year. I returned home with no extra holes in my body, however, something was amiss. In fact, I had been poisoned with “Agent Orange,” and a number of the “Rainbow Barrels of Defoliant,” used throughout the war. I also worked in an environment that was painted with “Lead Based Paint,” and used munitions and explosives containing “Mercury Fulminate.” Hemingway’s drama came in fits and starts. If they weren’t spontaneous, he created the circumstances that would have lead to drama. My drama came so slowly it was essentially imperceptible. I got no metals that would get me gratuitous attentions, nor did I ever speak or write of my experiences. I did have relationships with a number of exceptional women. I married only one and remained loyal to her until her death, forty two years later. I now spend my life in a community of veterans of different wars, from World War II thru to present day. Each veteran has lived with the same intensity that Hemingway lived during June and July 1918. Some more intense, others less. The differences are profound. Most, if not all the veterans I live with are willing to talk only to other veterans. Hemingway would talk to and wrote about the torrents of his life to anybody and everybody. My self-destructive behavior was limited to smoking tobacco and the occasional over indulgence of alcohol. Hemingway’s self-destructiveness bordered on euthanasic behavior extending to everyone he knew, loved or admired. He reserved the ultimate act for himself. I have endured twelve years beyond his tenure and continue to flourish. I never needed the idol worship that he seemed to thrive on. Hemingway’s Lesson “If you are going to ride a trolley, you must expect to pay the fare.” Richard Diaz

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ford

    Ernest Hemingway was charismatic and had a gift for simple writing, which he based largely on the style of Owen Wister, author of The Virginian (1902). He called his style the "Iceberg Method", because the visible part, above the water/on the page, is just a small portion of the subject. Hemingway lived large and wrote his experiences down in a fictional format. Of course, he twisted things, making himself more heroic in the lead role of his books and savaging his friends throughout the pages. H Ernest Hemingway was charismatic and had a gift for simple writing, which he based largely on the style of Owen Wister, author of The Virginian (1902). He called his style the "Iceberg Method", because the visible part, above the water/on the page, is just a small portion of the subject. Hemingway lived large and wrote his experiences down in a fictional format. Of course, he twisted things, making himself more heroic in the lead role of his books and savaging his friends throughout the pages. He became legendary, and burned almost all the bridges along the way. He was also an arse, prone to lying, attacking his friends, drunkenness, reckless behavior (like driving and handling firearms while drunk, sometimes both at the same time). He was happiest getting/being drunk, surrounded by syphocants, telling the same lies about his past over and over again. He went through 4 wives, the last of whom hated him (but was still married to him) at the time he killed himself. He wrote only four good novels: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea (more of a novella really). But what masterpieces they are. His few other novels were bad, like really bad. Some of his short stories are magnificent. But in the final analysis, his career quality is really uneven and his output fairly paltry. But the subject is so thoroughly unsympathetic that the biography was a real chore to get through. Mary Dearborn doesn't hide her contempt for Hemmingway. She really ends up not liking her subject, but feels that a woman's view of the man should be penned for posterity, so she takes up the joyless task. Maybe I ended up not liking the man for seeing him through Mary's eyes. But probably not. He just really seems like an arse. And he went crazy. It runs in his family. His father killed himself too. And sexual nonconformity and gender dysphoria run in the family. It is a messy cocktail. The poor women who were sucked into his orbit and became his wives! One really comes away feeling sorry for them. One thing that jumped out at me was how Hemmingway was one of the first modern "Anywheres"--people who did not live in a place, were not from or of a place, but were from and of anywhere. Hemmingway followed the bullfighters in Spain from town to town. He spent some winters fishing from Key West or Havana, other winters were spent skiing in the Alps. He spent summers and falls on a ranch in Wyoming or Sun Valley Idaho. He took extended safari-hunts in Africa. He lived long stretches in Paris and often stayed months in New York City. His success in reputation and money allowed his life to become unmoored, literally and figuratively. This rarely results in happiness and it certainly didn't for Hemmingway. Trading out wives and homes and countries and climes seemed like a desperate attempt to distract him from the fact that those who really knew him didn't like him--including his mother, his siblings, his peers (including a number who started out as friends), his wives, and eventually his children. He drove everyone away eventually. Enabled by his fame and his royalties, he became a monster. Then he went insane, contributed to by numerous head injuries, mostly resulting from stupidity. And he shot himself and ended it all at age 61 after becoming so fat and neurotic that a young Italian beauty he wanted for wife number 5 refused to fall under his spell. Rather than face his body falling apart over the next decade due to his hard living and drinking while living with a wife who was mostly waiting around for him to die, he pulled the trigger. While the world mourned, his frenemies and family sighed relief. I really wanted to like him and be inspired. Maybe I'm inspired--to be a Somewhere, moored to a place; to avoid addictions and dependence on drugs/alcohol; to not treat relationships as disposable; to not be jealous of and turn on friends; to keep myself humble and open to correction; to not be like Papa Hemmingway.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John Davis

    Ernest Hemingway, by Mary V. Dearborn, Alfred A. Knopf: New York; hardback, $35.00 It is instructive to know this biography of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway is written by a woman. Thus it is unique, and particularly insightful. Perhaps it is because too many biographers follow an unspoken, but agreed upon, theme about Hemingway. He is seen as the "Man's man" sort of writer. He hunted wild animals on safari, fought in three wars, chased women, and basically lived life to his own demands and Ernest Hemingway, by Mary V. Dearborn, Alfred A. Knopf: New York; hardback, $35.00 It is instructive to know this biography of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway is written by a woman. Thus it is unique, and particularly insightful. Perhaps it is because too many biographers follow an unspoken, but agreed upon, theme about Hemingway. He is seen as the "Man's man" sort of writer. He hunted wild animals on safari, fought in three wars, chased women, and basically lived life to his own demands and standards. Mary V. Dearborn, Mellon Fellow of Columbia University where she received her doctorate, author of several biographies and other works, is a nuanced, thoughtful writer whose access to vast reservoirs of new information on Hemingway brought about this valuable study. She reveals the information previously unavailable in a trove from his Cuban home, KGB files, and newer documents. Hemingway was brought up in a family quite common in the Victorian age. For instance, his father Ed was extremely cognizant, and consistent, with a Puritanical mode of raising children. Spanking and prayer for forgiveness for violation of a host of taboos were father's way. However, he also taught young Ernest woodcraft, and cared to take him on visits to the wilds where he taught him about nature. Violent changes, however, from one way to another, was not a sign of the times, rather of depression. Indeed, Dearborn notes that depression and its terrible impact followed the family from father to son like a plague. It manifested itself in Hemingway's wanderings. In Paris, during the post World War 1 roaring '20s, he made friends with others who became famous in their own rights. John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound, all famous names, were his companions. They shared writing skills, life skills, and even nascent political views. These became apparent with the Spanish Civil War, which impacted so many writers. Dos Passos became alienated from the obvious takeover of the Republican cause by Soviet apparatchiks. Hemingway did not become so enlightened. With the murder of a common acquaintance by communist enforcers, Dos Passos became as his new acquaintance George Orwell, and denounced the false communist god which subverted the young Spanish republican cause. Hemingway did not. Indeed his belief in Soviet anti-fascist goals led, per a revealing new assessment of his third wife Martha Gellhorn and other documents, to his attempted recruitment by the KGB. Intriguingly, he was also spotted for recruitment years later in Cuba by the Americans! Dearborn shows him not to be a womanizer, but rather a serial marriage person. His loyalties were clear, his mental health was not. How it came to dominate much of his life, as recorded by relatives, friends, and others, is spelled out in convincing letter citations, publications, and conversations. Noteworthy too is how Dearborn changes much of we think we know about Hemingway the man as compared to Hemingway the author. She dispels misconceptions about his novels, not all of which were autobiographical. Likewise, and perhaps most poignant, is his suicide. By the time it happens, the reader is not surprised. This is perhaps one of the best biographies I've read, and I cannot recommend it highly enough if you hope to understand a man who truly is an icon of American literature.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.