Ernest Hemingway in 3 Minutes: How Drinking Inspired the Writer

Ernest Hemingway is a true icon of world literature. But while he is of course known for his amazing prose, he is almost equally as renowned for his love of drinking.

Hemingway's drunkenness is the stuff of legends. He started drinking at the age of 17, when he worked as a reporter for a newspaper, and from that point on, by his own admission, he was never without a bottle for more than a couple of days. Neither America’s Prohibition laws nor two world wars could come between him and the booze.

Hemingway volunteered in World War I with the Red Cross and was seriously wounded after coming under mortar fire. In the hospital, 26 pieces of shrapnel were removed from his body. For a long time, the writer suffered from depression. Back in the United States, he spent time away from work, recovering from his injuries in his parent’s home with the aid of a hefty amount of wine.

Hemingway moved to Paris in 1921 as a foreign correspondent for a Canadian newspaper. There he led a bohemian lifestyle, recalling that “It would never have occurred to me to dine without wine, cider or beer ...”.

The writer dedicated his first successful novel "The Sun Also Rises" to the lost generation—the young people who returned from the front lines of the Great War, but were never able to return to a peaceful life. For Hemingway, like the heroes of his prose, alcohol allowed him to come to terms with the depressing fact that all spiritual ideals of existence had been destroyed by the war.

He wrote as he lived and lived as he wrote. Boxing, bullfighting, fishing, lion hunting - Hemingway always chose the most risky activities. The writer was fond of alcohol with the same passion, claiming that he drank to make other people more interesting.

It’s hardly a surprise that Hemingway collected illnesses and injuries throughout his life. He suffered from anthrax poisoning, survived the bombing during the Spanish Civil War and took part in the battles for the liberation of Paris and Belgium on the fronts of World War II. "Drunkenness is also a war," the writer once said. And in this war, Hemingway fought without fear or reproach.

In his later years, Hemingway moved to Cuba. He brought fame not only to American literature, but also to his favorite cocktails - mojitos and daiquiri. “The place to get rid of sorrow is the bar, not literature,” the writer argued. It is no coincidence that the only sculpture made from life during Hemingway's lifetime was installed in the Floridita bar, which the Nobel laureate loved to visit. Alcohol played a central role in Hemingway's work, but it was ultimately life itself that inspired the writer to create his great novels.
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