Hemingway on War
More so than any other author in the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway and his writing was profoundly shaped by war. First, his life reflected dramatic changes as a result of war. In 1918, he served as an ambulance driver on the Italian front; there, he was seriously wounded by enemy mortar fire. While recovering for a six-month period at a Red Cross hospital in Milan, he met and fell in love with a nurse much older than him. Though she would leave him for an Italian officer, their relationship set the stage for Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms.
More importantly, though, is how war impacted his writing. Because he served as a very young man, it is understandable that many of Hemingway’s focal points in his later writing would be on war and conflict. He covered the Greco-Turkish War for the Toronto Star and reported on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance. He also was used extensively to cover battles throughout Europe during World War II.
Some of Hemingway’s most prolific works came from his involvement in the “lost generation,” a group of writers whose interpretation of the world around them was colored dramatically as a result of the brutal conflict they experienced in their own generation. The Sun Also Rises is the exemplar piece of writing for this community, but many of Hemingway’s pieces, both short and long, reflect the worldview held by this assembly of writers.