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To judge from the frequency with which biographies of him continue to appear nearly four decades after his death Ernest Hemingway remains as fascinating a figure now as he was to his contemporaries The reasons for this fascination have of course changed to some extent The public perception of any writer undergoes an alteration after his or her death when the facts of the private life--some of them perhaps deliberately concealed--begin to come to light In his lifetime Hemingway created and sold to a vast public including millions who never read a word he had written a myth of himself as an undisputed master in a wide variety of activities--soldier fighter hunter literary genius a man whose confidence and authority made him envied by men and adored by women All of these things were to a greater or lesser degree true of Hemingway although in most cases not nearly to the extent that they once appeared to be And it has become clear that for him as for the protagon ists of his novels and stories the true nature of heroism lay not in the effortless realization of superior gifts but in the constant consuming struggle to overcome crippling psychological defects and terror at the emptiness both in the larger world and in the innermost self Ernest Miller Hemingway the second child and first son of Clarence Hemingway a medical doctor and Grace Hall Hemingway was born on July 21 1899 in Oak Park Illinois a well-to-do suburb of Chicago His family and upbringing were conventional in their middleclass expectations and unimaginative moralism although Hemingway would in later years characterize them especially his mother far more harshly than the realities justified Much has been made of the fact that in his earliest months his mother dressed him like a girl and treated him as a sort of twin to his sister Marcelline who was eighteen months his senior After graduating
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