Ernest Hemingway/Famous at Twenty-Five Thirty a Master

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B)Main Part

I. Books and Beyond

1.Famous at Twenty-Five: Thirty a Master

The Hemingway style rocked the literary scene when it first arrived. It seemed simple on the surface, but was a revolution in a time when Victorian writing with neo-Gothic decorations still governed the literary world.

And beneath the surface of this "simple" style lie allegorical structures of real complexity. Hemingway's style was no natural gift. It was the reward for his immense hurts and efforts and it was, and still is, the epitome of the modern movement. In Paris, many authors lent the young Hemingway a helping hand, and helped shape his style.

After marrying, the Hemingways decided to live abroad for a while, and, following the advice of Sherwood Anderson, they picked Paris, where Ernest could develop his literary skills better than anywhere else. His first professional influence had been his time as a reporter for the Kansas City Star. The Kansas City Star Style Book, which was a guideline the newspaper had established, had lain the foundations for his later art. "Brevity, a reconciliation of vigour with smoothness, the positive approach"(Burgess (9.), p. 19) were its main directives and the young Ernest was willing to adopt them as his personal standard.

Sherwood Anderson wrote him a letter of recommendation to Gertrude Stein. She became his mentor and opened him the door to the Parisian Modern Movement. His other mentor was Ezra Pound, the founder of Imagism. In retrospective, Hemingway once said about them: "Ezra was right half the time, and when he was wrong, he was so wrong you were never in any doubt about it. Gertrude was always right."(to John Peale Bishop; Cowley (4.), p. xiii). He even considered giving Mr. Pound the Nobel Prize gold medal. At the same time, he became a close friend of James Joyce whose "Ulysses" with its stream-of-consciousness techniques had a tremendous impact on the literary scene. These authors and many others met at Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co., 18 Rue de l'Odéon, Paris.

But the last impulse he required came in an unsuspected and painful way. His manuscripts, among them "A Farewell to Arms" were stolen at Gare de Lyon when his wife wanted to bring them along to Lausanne to meet him. This loss was a big gain after all, because by re-writing the novel he had also time to reconsider, thus improving it. The second version was a great deal less flowery, stripped of all decoration, reduced to the bare essentials, matter-of-factly, concentrated and compressed.

During this peaceful life among friends, he was able to develop his literary skills, in times of war, inspired by death, he would use them.

next: /From Boy to Man Hemingways First World War