I still remember the day I learned of Hemingway’s death. It was such a shock. I was in high school and had only recently discovered his books. My fascination with novels began with Jules Verne’s The Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Mysterious Island. From there I moved on to Edgar Rice Burroughs and ultimately to John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.
The first Hemingway book I read was The Old Man and the Sea. I was blown away with the greatness of the story and the simplicity of the writing, both Papa trademarks. That led to For Whom the Bell Tolls (which ironically I was reading when I learned of his death), A Farewell to Arms, and all the wonderful short stories, which I keep on my iPad. You can learn a lot by re-reading them from time to time.
That Hemingway abused alcohol and was depressed and probably bipolar is fairly well known. His depression had apparently worsened in the months before his death. It is rumored that he could no longer write, not even a single sentence. Whether this is true or not is unknown but for him the inability to create that perfect sentence would have been maddening. He who slaved over every sentence, every phrase, every word. It is probably what led to his placing a double-barreled shotgun to his forehead and pulling the trigger on the morning of July 2, 1961.
John Walsh has now written an interesting piece on Hemingway’s psychological spiral and the things that led to his suicide. For any Hemingway fan it is interesting reading.
So long Papa, you are greatly missed.