Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Last Safari - The Phenomenon Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway on safari, Africa. January, 1934
© Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection
He was one of the most successful and best known American authors of the 20th century. He also was a journalist, war reporter, foreign correspondent. Four times he was married, for most of the time of his life he was a heavy drinker, and he had a passion for big game hunting in Africa. For his novell 'The Old Man and the Sea' - you know the story with the fisherman catching this once in a lifetime big fish and loosing it again to the sharks - Ernest Hemingway received both the Pulitzer Prize as well as the literature Nobel Prize. On July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in the small town of Oaktown, Illinois.

After high school Hemingway reported for a few months for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to enlist with the World War I ambulance drivers. In 1918, he was seriously wounded, for which he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery, and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel 'A Farewell to Arms'.

In 1922, Hemingway married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent, and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s "Lost Generation" expatriate community. The 'Sun Also Rises', where he tells the story of a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights, was published in 1926. One year earlier, in 1925 Hadley learned Hemingway was involved with another woman, Pauline Pfeiffer, and she divorced him the following year.

In 1927, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. During the early 1930s the couple spent the winters in Key West and summers in Wyoming, where Hemingway found "the most beautiful country he had seen in the American West" and hunting that included deer, elk and even grizzly bear. In 1933 Hemingway and Pauline went on safari to East Africa. The 10-week trip provided material for 'The Green Hills of Africa', as well as for the short stories "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber".

But, the couple was divorced after Hemingway returned from the Spanish Civil War, where he had acted as a journalist, and after which he wrote his most famous novell 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'. Hemingway first met his third wife Martha Gellhorn during a 1936 Christmas family trip to Key West. Both travelled in Spain together to cover the Spanish Civil War.  Martha and Hemingway lived together off and on for four years, before marrying in December, 1940. Increasingly resentful of Gellhorn's long absences during her reporting assignments, Hemingway wrote to her in 1943: "Are you a war correspondent, or wife in my bed?" After four contentious years of marriage, they divorced in 1945.

In 1946 Hemingway got married for a forth time with Time magazine correspondent Mary Welsh. Shortly after the publication of 'The Old Man and the Sea' in 1952, a story that he wrote in only eight weeks timw, saying that it was "the best I can write ever for all of my life", Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in two successive plane crashes that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. In 1959 he finally moved his residence from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.

At yovisto you might watch Sir Christopher Ondaatje, OC, OBE, author, publisher, explorer, philanthropist and Macquarie University Writer in Residence discusses his book "Hemingway in Africa: The Last Safari".

References and further Reading:

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