post civil war american literature

Ernest Hemingway will still be remembered as a revered heroic writer whose writings have influenced American literature. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899. Hemingway was an American novelist, short story composer, and poet whose works won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Hemingway started his career as a writer for a Kansa City newspaper. He later became a reporter for American and Canadian newspapers, and here his writing skills were greatly improved. He was honored for his outstanding writing and the masculinity adventure he portrayed in his works. His prose style exerted a strong impact on American literature that is commonly imitated. The virile nature evident in his writing attempts to re-create a physical sensation Hemingway experienced in wartime as a military soldier (French 4). His early works that significantly became prominent include A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway’s enduring legacy that was left behind from the impressive body of literature along with the iconic style remains to be influential to many writers in the current world and the entire American literature.

Ernest Hemingway and his influence to the American Literature

Hemingway’s outstanding style of writing is a notable factor that has continued to influence American literature and evident in the modern writers. This has been more pronounced in the realm of prose stylistic skills. Many readers and writers find Hemingway’s prose style to be exemplary and captivating. Whiting notes that he is the best prose writer to ever been brought to creation in the American literature (Whiting 29). He learned to write in an approach that would engage the reader with the power of his literary skills. This grammatical structure that exhibited a natural flow was metric. His novels and stories such as A Farewell to Arms are praised for this unique style. Lots of writers such as Clinton S. Burhans, Jr. have attempted to adapt Hemingway’s prose writing and thus enhanced their literary skills. This feature blended with his entire brilliance, and hence made him a successful American writer to be imitated.

Ernest Hemingway was among the most influential writers of the 20th century, and he heavily impacted on the American literature. His first publication done in 1929 called A Farewell to Arms earned the author a widespread fame not only in the nation but also globally. Even after his suicide in 1961, his reputation in literature has continued to grow beyond imaginable spheres. One of the significant striking evidence is denoted from his book The Old Man and the Sea which vitally marketed his celebrity. This book was later featured in a Hollywood movie that was broadly viewed in many screens. From this view, The Old Man and the Sea was one of Hemingway’s writings that gained massive recognition in the American literature as well as in the Hollywood films.

Many of Hemingway’s literary works focused on the theme of war, and this was also a defining aspect of his writing. Hence, his pacifist views along with the anti-war messages in novels bottled up a feeling of peace in his entire generation. He certainly took a bold stand and castigated the actions of war that was highly prevalent during his time. Here, he meaningfully served as an iconic symbol of war resistance which still influences many authors in the current world. He achieved his anti-war thematic celebrity in books such as A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Hemingway was indeed a great writer. This becomes evident after reading A Farewell to Arms where his inspiration becomes difficult to discern in a number of writers. The influence is evident in his stylistic and thematic forms (Whiting 21). The overriding theme of anti-war in the majority of his works graces his reputation. For this reason, Hemingway’s heroic aspect is seen in many literary soldiers who followed his footsteps. For example, it can be seen in James Salter’s The Hunters which is an account of the exploits of the Korean War. Also, the novel Confidential by James Ellroy clearly depicts an anti-war theme from the account of allied officers in the trenches of Italy and France. James Ellroy and James Salter are among the many writers who termed Hemingway to be a renowned writer. Besides, the cowboys in Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy are basically Hemingway’s characters. Notably, Hemingway’s characters necessarily confront violence, and his overriding theme of honor was essential in communicating the idea of anti-war.

In his stories, Hemingway combined a number of features which enabled him to create a radically modern approach of writing. His works prove to confirm to the American style that is full of prepositional phrases, repeating words, as well as present participles which are solidly grounded Hemingway’s works. His artistic integrity was also not compromised at any point, and this feature is emulated by many writers. His sentences and paragraphs drew more emphasis on nouns and verbs rather than adjectives (Waldhorn 18). For example, his work A Farewell to Arms depicts to be an honor and glory to this style. He was limited in numbers of words, and yet he managed to express his views and richly impacted to the readers and other writers. His style also encompasses a combination of short sentences as well as long sentences that contained clause connections and short phrases that were enchanting. Many of the modern writers such as Chandler and Salter have attempted to employ this unique style and thematic view that mimic Hemingway’s approach. In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of writers in the US known as Minimalists opted to adopt this style of writing and sold many books.

Hemingway’s short but efficient writing style forms one of the hallmarks in his entire works of literature. He is one of the greatest authors in American history that has significantly impacted on the American literature and saw many modem writers emulate his nostalgic works. Arguably, he is majorly cited to be one of the primary influencers of modern authors. Through his efficient and short style, Hemingway portrayed a new generation of writers where he communicated that it was not necessary for one to provide lengthy detail in making a captivating novel. Remarkably, his blunt and a straightforward style of writing make Hemingway a celebrated author of his kind. This literary feature enabled him to receive many praises as well as becoming a highly recognized magnificent writer who importantly contributed to the American literature (Waldhorn 29). Lack of dialogue and repetition are among the distinguished features in his works. For this reason, Hemingway strongly communicated to people that it did not take many words for one to pass across the intended message to the society.

Hemingway’s literature also heavily attested to a moral code that is cherished and cultivated in many literary works in America. The aspect of truth is highly seen in his works. The author explains in his book A Moveable Feast that “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say” (French 12). His personal and artistic quests for the truth are heavily related. The truth he projected was a metaphor of his experience. From his writings, the reader easily comprehends that Hemingway saw himself as a masterpiece of the 20th century and knew that his vision could be useful to other people who lived in the world. In view of this, his call for the truth made him become a legendary figure in literature. Waldhorn notes that his search for accuracy and truth in expression is depicted in Hemingway’s economical prose and terse that is widely acknowledged to be one of his great contribution to American literature (Waldhorn 3). Waldhorn goes ahead to elucidate that Hemingway’s “aesthetic of simplicity” involving a “basic struggle for absolute accuracy in his words correspond to experience” (Waldhorn 14). Notably, his blunt honesty is a moral act that is defining to his nature and propelled reality rather than simply appearing to construct imaginations that would appeal to his readers. Another virtue in his writing that influences the American literature is his self-discipline. When he sought to write about something, he would stick to the story and make it flow.

Perhaps, his training as a journalist and being a reporter at Toronto Star and Kansas City Star attested to have been essential aspects of building his self-discipline nature in his works. His moral code is seen in his novel Death in the Afternoon. He writes in this book that “What is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after” (Whiting 9). Also, in his book For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway’s motive of honor is portrayed and showcases a tremendous sense of dignity and worth. His pragmatic voice on the concept of morality makes him a renowned moral writer. His perception of the need to have moral values of truth and dignity rather than “disillusionment and moribund idealism” is a feature evident in the 20th century.


In many ways, Hemingway’s works have been exemplified in wide spheres of writing and significantly influenced the American literature. The most visible areas of influence are evident in his unique stylistic structure, theme and his prose. Notably, Hemingway’s seminal works will remain to be masterpiece and celebrated in the American literature. Undeniably, they serve as primary models to literature and this has seen many modern writers employ the same ideas. Notably, Hemingway depicted to be an enigmatic writer who created tranquil environment in poetry, novels and short stories to encourage the upcoming generations. Today, his outstanding deeds describe his success despite having committed suicide in 1961. His powerful style forms a mastery of art narration that unquestionably makes him a brilliant and a famous hero.

Works Cited

French, Warren G. 20Th-Century American Literature. Macmillan, 2002.

Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. Farrar, Straus And Giroux, 2009.

Whiting, Jim. Ernest Hemingway. Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2006.

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