The Troubled Legendary Writer: Ernest Hemingway

July 2, 2021

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” remains a common refrain from seasoned adults. It’s often far from the truth, but when it comes to Ernest Hemingway, they really don’t make ‘em like they used to.

As he said, "The first draft of anything is shit." (National Archives and Records Administration)

The legendary writer born just before the turn of the 20th century lived a life that’s almost difficult to comprehend. Whether his deeds in war, his endless list of ailments and accidents, or wild lived experiences, it all beggars belief. Perhaps that’s why “Papa’s” writing stands the test of time many decades after his death.

“Never Think That War, No Matter How Necessary, Nor How Justified, Is Not A Crime”

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Hemingway signed up for World War I as an ambulance driver and saw a great many harrowing deaths and injuries. Working the Italian front lines, Hemingway’s main job was to collect human remains, which probably informed his feelings on the necessity of war.

During his tour of duty, he took heavy mortar fire that sent shrapnel ripping through both of his legs. Despite his grievous injuries he managed to cart another injured soldier to safety. That act of bravery earned him the Italian Silver Medal of Valor. 30 years later, the U.S awarded him a Bronze Star for lobbing three grenades into an enemy bunker and killing multiple SS officers while acting as a war correspondent during World War II.