For Whom the Bell Tolls

Hemingway, Ernest

Ernest Hemingway, 1899–1961, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Oak Park, Ill. one of the great American writers of the 20th cent.


The son of a country doctor, Hemingway worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star after graduating from high school in 1917. During World War I he served as an ambulance driver in France and in the Italian infantry and was wounded just before his 19th birthday. Later, while working in Paris as a correspondent for the Toronto Star, he became involved with the expatriate literary and artistic circle surrounding Gertrude Stein. During the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway served as a correspondent on the loyalist side. He fought in World War II and then settled in Cuba in 1945. In 1954, Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. After his expulsion from Cuba by the Castro regime, he moved to Idaho. He was increasingly plagued by ill health and mental problems, and in July, 1961, he committed suicide by shooting himself.


Hemingway's fiction usually focuses on people living essential, dangerous lives—soldiers, fishermen, athletes, bullfighters—who meet the pain and difficulty of their existence with stoic courage. His celebrated literary style, influenced by Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, is direct, terse, muscular, and often monotonous, yet particularly suited to his elemental subject matter.

Hemingway's first books, Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923), In Our Time (short stories, 1924), and The Torrents of Spring (a novel, 1926), attracted attention primarily because of his literary style. With the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), he was recognized as the spokesman of the "lost generation" (so called by Gertrude Stein). The novel concerns a group of psychologically bruised, disillusioned expatriates living in postwar Paris, who take psychic refuge in such immediate physical activities as eating, drinking, traveling, brawling, and lovemaking.

His next important novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929), tells of a tragic wartime love affair between an ambulance driver and an English nurse. Hemingway also published such volumes of short stories as Men without Women (1927) and Winner Take Nothing (1933), as well as The Fifth Column, a play. His First Forty-nine Stories (1938) includes such famous short stories as "The Killers," "The Undefeated," and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Hemingway's nonfiction works, Death in the Afternoon (1932), about bullfighting, and Green Hills of Africa (1935), about big-game hunting, glorify virility, bravery, and the virtue of a primal challenge to life.

From his experience in the Spanish Civil War came Hemingway's great novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), which, in detailing an incident in the war, argues for human brotherhood. His novella The Old Man and the Sea (1952) celebrates the indomitable courage of an aged Cuban fisherman. Among Hemingway's other works are the novels To Have and Have Not (1937) and Across the River and into the Trees (1950); he also edited an anthology of stories, Men at War (1942). Posthumous publications include A Moveable Feast (1964, restored ed. 2009), a memoir of Paris in the 1920s; the novels Islands in the Stream (1970) and True at First Light (1999), a safari saga begun in 1954 and edited by his son Patrick; and The Nick Adams Stories (1972), a collection that includes previously unpublished pieces.


See his letters, ed. by C. Baker (1989), by M. J. Bruccoli (1996), and by S. Spanier and R. W. Trogdon (2 vol., 2011–); biographies by C. Baker (1969, rev. ed. 1980), J. Meyers (1986), M. S. Reynolds (5 vol. 1987–99), K. Lynn (1988), and J. R. Mellow (1993); P. Hendrickson's biographical Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934–1961 (2011); B. Vejdovsky and M. Hemingway, Hemingway: A Life in Pictures (2011); P. Young, Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration (rev. ed. 1966); C. Baker, Hemingway, the Writer as Artist (4th ed. 1972), H. S. Villard and J. Nagel, Hemingway in Love and War (1989), and J. McLendon, Papa (1990); M. S. Reynolds, Hemingway: An Annotated Chronology (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Blowing the Bridge: Essays on Hemingway and For Whom the Bell Tolls
Rena Sanderson.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Hemingway: Up in Michigan Perspectives
Frederic J. Svoboda; Joseph J. Waldmeir.
Michigan State University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: "Love and Death in Hemingway's Spanish Novel" begins on p. 213, "Love in For Whom the Bell Tolls: Hemingway's Undiscovered Country" begins on p. 221 and "Something in It for You: Role Models in For Whom the Bell Tolls" begins on p. 229
Student Companion to Ernest Hemingway
Lisa Tyler.
Greenwood Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)"
Ernest Hemingway: The Critical Heritage
Jeffrey Meyers.
Routledge, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)" begins on p. 314
The Modern American Novel of Violence
Patrick W. Shaw.
Whitston, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls" begins on p. 64
Heroic Fiction: The Epic Tradition and American Novels of the Twentieth Century
Leonard Lutwack.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1971
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
The Spanish Civil War in Literature
Janet Pérez; Wendell Aycock.
Texas Tech University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "For Whom the Bell Tolls as Contemporary History" begins on p. 85
Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
Buckley, Ramon.
The Hemingway Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, Fall 1997
Ernest Hemingway: The Man and His Work
John K. M. McCaffery.
World Publishing, 1950
Librarian’s tip: "English and Spanish in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'" begins on p. 205
Parody or Parity: A Brief Note on Gertrude Stein and 'For Whom the Bell Tolls.'
Brogan, Jacqueline Vaught.
The Hemingway Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 1996
Hemingway Raids the Library for for Whom the Bell Tolls
Hays, Peter.
The Hemingway Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, Fall 1998
A Reader's Guide to Pilar's Bullfighters: Untold Histories in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls.'
Mandel, Miriam.
The Hemingway Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, Fall 1995
Rabbit Stew and Blowing Dorothy's Bridges: Love, Aggression, and Fetishism in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls.'
Eby, Carl.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 44, No. 2, Summer 1998
Ernest Hemingway: Seven Decades of Criticism
Linda Wagner-Martin.
Michigan State University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Toward a Politically Responsible Ethical Criticism: Narrative in the Political Unconscious and For Whom the Bell Tolls" begins on p. 185
The Social Novel at the End of An Era
Warren French.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1966
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of For Whom the Bell Tolls begins on p. 87
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