Ernest Hemingway: Revisiting His Most Influential Works

July 21st is the birthday of literary legend Ernest Hemingway. Celebrate what would have been his 123rd birthday by revisiting some of his most influential works.

Author's Corner Book Culture Classics On This Day

Ernest Hemingway is one of the most influential authors of 20th-century literature. A member of “The Lost Generation,” Hemingway was an expatriate who began his career writing in the cafes of Paris during the 1920s. Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, and James Joyce were just a few of the artistic geniuses Hemingway ran in the same circle with in the early years of his career. Throughout his life, Hemingway traveled to and wrote in a few of the most scenic corners of the world, including Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba. 

The critically acclaimed author of many popular short stories and powerful novels, Hemingway is known for his distinct writing style and complex and often troubled characters. In celebration of Ernest Hemingway’s birthday on July 21st, keep reading to revisit some of his most influential works. 

The Sun Also Rises 


Hemmingway’s debut novel, The Sun Also Rises, is a poignant, classic story that pays tribute to the Lost Generation. The youth and young adults of the Post World War I era were defined by their angst and disenchantment. Young expatriates Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley journey through the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris and Spain. Jake and Brett navigate through a lifestyle void of morals and lacking fulfillment. 

The Sun Also Rises introduced readers to the clear, direct writing style of Hemingway, utilizing concise and powerful dialogue accompanied by sparse prose. Hemingway’s debut novel perfectly establishes his distinct, fresh writer’s style and voice. 

For Whom the Bell Tolls


Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls takes place in war-torn Segovia, Spain, in 1937. Young American soldier Robert Jordan accompanies an antifascist guerilla unit fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Robert follows commands to travel beyond enemy lines and use his dynamiter skills to destroy a bridge to hinder Francisco Franco’s Fascist forces. During his dangerous mission, Robert meets Maria, a member of the guerrilla group, and he begins to fall in love with her. 

Hemingway conducted journalistic research in Spain in 1937 to cover the Spanish Civil War for the American Newspaper Alliance. Following his experience witnessing the war firsthand, Hemingway wrote a fiction book rooted in facts that would capture the moral complexities of war. 

A Movable Feast 


A Moveable Feast is a collection of memories and experiences from Hemingway’s time living as an up-and-coming writer in Paris. Hemingway crafts a personal and witty novel as he fondly remembers his life as a young man as he discovered himself and his passion for writing during the 1920s. Hemingway reflects on his relationships with notable figures such as Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerlad, and James Joyce. Hemingway’s memoir illuminates the magic and enchanting romance of Paris. 

In 1964, three years after Hemingway’s death, A Moveable Feast was published posthumously from the author’s work on an unfinished manuscript in the final years of his life. The title of the novel was chosen by his widow, Mary Hemingway, who had overheard him describe Paris as A Moveable Feast. Hemingway’s wistful remembrance of a time long gone stirs bittersweet feelings of nostalgia. 

A Farewell to Arms


Hemingway’s semiautobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms tells the memorable story of an American ambulance driver named Henry serving in Italy during the first World War. Set against the backdrop of the horrors of war, Hemingway narrates the love affair between Henry and Catherine, an English nurse. Throughout the book, Hemingway communicates themes concerning the contradictions of masculinity and femininity and the brutalities of war. 

During World War I, Hemingway volunteered as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross. A Farewell to Arms is based on Hemingway’s experiences in Italy during the war.

The Old Man and the Sea


In one of Hemingway’s greatest works, we encounter Santiago, an old fisherman in Cuba who has not caught anything in 84 days. He sets out alone into the Gulf Stream, determined to come back with a catch. On the sea, Santiago fights to capture and keep hold of a formidable and beautiful marlin. With a relentless battle of physical pain and exhaustion against the persistent force of the sea, Hemingway poetically portrays the timeless conflict between man and nature. 

Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea in 1954 as a response to critics who claimed that his writing career was over. Thematically, The Old Man and the Sea is biographical, as the main character’s experiences reflect the decline of Hemingway’s career and the loneliness created by his failed relationships. The Old Man and the Sea is perhaps one of Hemingway’s most influential bodies of work. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953, and it was a deciding factor in Hemingway being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

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