For what may exceed in despondency and heartache the years preceding Ernest Hemingway’s suicide are, as it turns out, the years that have followed. A genius, Hemingway, although plagued by a depression and anxiety so destructive, managed to produce some of literature’s most reveled work: The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Old Man and the Sea, among others equal in praise.
But the posthumous sadness we feel comes less from his troubled life and more from that which we will never know. The unfathomable work Ernest Hemingway would have created in his later years remains a vast and potent mystery.
What we have to remember him by apart from his writing are the stories and the information passed down by those who knew him. Who was Ernest Hemingway? Beyond his geographical whereabouts and career involvement, what was he like? What were his interests? How did he spend his days?
Described by those who knew him, Ernest Hemingway demonstrated a hypermasculine personality that sought to compete with his male peers on various endeavors: boxing, writing, and in seducing women, to name a few.
In fact, between 1921 and 1946, Ernest Hemingway married four times. Charged with shameless desires to commit illicit romance, he engaged in love affairs, notably with the women he would marry thereafter.
Although, and quite possibly as reason for his skilled seduction of women, Ernest Hemingway revealed in his books an emotional side. Whether a factor of his depression or of his experiences in love and war or both, the writer’s emotional insight continues to prove itself today as perceptive, applicable, and accurate.
Hemingway was an outdoorsman. Hefty with knowledge of fishing and hunting, the man understood both the process and the etiquette behind both hobbies. Any of his devoted reader base would attest to this feat. He knew that hunting and fishing required artwork, and that the participant of either need must appreciate and recognize the beauty displayed by the animal hunted.
He carried this wisdom with him while spectating bullfighting. Especially seen in today’s political world as unethical, even intolerable, bullfighting continues to entertain bystanders in countries where it originated. Because for these bystanders, and perhaps for them always, bullfighting celebrates and encompasses a truth no other sport seems to achieve:
“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.” – Ernest Hemingway
More often than not, one could see Ernest Hemingway with a drink in one hand and a cigar or cigarette in the other. His love to drink and smoke, although not surpassing his love to write, proved itself an important part of his days alive.
It appeared, however, by those who knew the man, that his alcoholic intake became rather problematic; that Ernest Hemingway, although seemingly indestructible for most of his life, had begun to shut done. Shortly after his release from psychological treatment, the man committed suicide with a shotgun.
And here, one can begin to imagine that Ernest Hemingway’s suicide illustrated an incredible paradox. That which made the writer so aware, so emotionally percipient, and so relatable – such a good writer, really – served as his ultimate downfall. There exists an irony in Ernest Hemingway’s depression in that we cannot have wished it away; because without it, who knows what sort of literary genius this world would miss out on thereafter.