Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The mystery behind Hemingway's suicide


America's most celebrated writer, Ernest Hemingway, ended his life 50 years ago in a manner his biographers have struggled to explain. John Walsh over at The Independent has an insightful article that delves into the man and the motives behind his death. Some answers were offered in 2006 by a long article in the American Psychiatry magazine, called "Ernest Hemingway: A Psychological Autopsy of a Suicide". It was by Christopher D Martin, whose official title is Instructor and Staff Psychiatrist at the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas.

"The accumulating factors contributing to his burden of illness at the end of his life are staggering," writes Martin, listing Hemingway's bipolar mood disorder, depression, chronic alcoholism, repetitive traumatic brain injuries, the onset of psychosis. But it seems clear that the defining problem of his life was his experience of childhood. His confusion over gender, his Oedipal desire to kill his father for beating him, together led to what Martin calls "a retreat into a defensive fa├žade of hyper-masculinity and self-sufficiency".

Link to the complete article

Fighter, writer, lover: a life in brief 

1898 Ernest Hemingway is born in Oak Park, Illinois

1918 Wounded in Italy while working for the Red Cross during the First
World War

1921 Marries first wife Hadley Richardson; they move to Paris

1923 First son John is born

1927 Divorced by Hadley, he marries Pauline Pfeiffer

1928 His father Clarence shoots himself in the head

1937 Works as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War

1940 For Whom the Bell Tolls is published; Hemingway marries Martha
Gellhorn

1944 Reports on the liberation of Paris; begins relationship with Mary
Welsh who he will marry in 1946

1952 The novella The Old Man and the Sea is published

1954 Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature

1961 Shoots himself in the head in Ketchum, Idaho

Found at Coudal Partners

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition

1 comment:

Lyn Midnight said...

Hm. I never knew he suffered from Bipolar disorders. Many writers do, don't they. I may have to look into that article, this peeked my interest. Thank you. :)