ABOUT THIS BOOK
Ernest Hemingway has enjoyed a rich legacy as the progenitor of modern fiction, as an outsized character in literary lore who wrote some of the most honest and moving accounts of the twentieth century, set against such grand backdrops as the bullrings of Spain, the savannahs of Africa, and the rivers and lakes of the American Midwest. In this portrait of the Nobel-prize winner, Verna Kale challenges many of the long-standing assumptions Hemingway’s legacy has created. Drawing on numerous sources, she reexamines him, offering a real-life portrait of the historical figure as he really was: a writer, a sportsman, and a celebrity with a long and turbulent career.
Kale follows Hemingway around the world and through his many roles—as a young Red Cross volunteer in World War I, as an expatriate poet in 1920s Paris, as a career novelist navigating the burgeoning middlebrow fiction market, and as a seasoned but struggling writer still trying to draft his masterpiece. She takes readers through his four marriages, his joyous big game expeditions in Africa, and his struggles with celebrity and craft, especially his decades-long attempt at a novel that was supposed to blow open the boundaries of American fiction and upset the very conventions he helped to create. It is this final aspect of Hemingway’s life—Kale shows—that wreaked the greatest havoc on him, taking a steep physical and mental toll that was likely exacerbated by a medical condition that science is only beginning to understand.
Concise but insightful, this book offers an acute portrait of one of the most important figures of American arts and letters.