Ernest Hemingway was one of the most captivating personalities of the 20th century, not only because of his extraordinary literary achievements, but because of his headline-catching behavior. Hemingway served as an ambulance driver in World War I, and lived afterward for a time among the expatriate community in Paris; later he maintained residences in Key West and Cuba, before moving to Idaho, where in 1961 he committed suicide. Few modern writers have been so extensively examined by scholars, memoirists, biographers, and doctoral students, yet his most recent biographer, Paul Hendrickson, believes there is more to be learned about this complex figure. “There is just something about Hemingway himself,” he says, “that — for all the boorishness and alcoholism and depression — makes people sense there is and was a good person there, capable of all that word magic.” Professor Hendrickson’s talk will focus on those themes.
Paul Hendrickson, a distinguished journalist and author, was born in California, but grew up in the Midwest and in the Deep South, where he studied seven years for the priesthood. He holds degrees in American Literature from St. Louis University and Penn State. For 30 years he worked in daily journalism, including the position staff feature writer at The Washington Post from 1977 to 2001. After that he joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, his current position, where he has been acknowledged for outstanding teaching. His several books have won widespread acclaim, including his most recent, Hemingway’s Boat, which The Wall Street Journal hailed as “both stunningly original and deeply gripping….Hemingway has never seemed so vivid or his work so heroic.”