Hemingway, Paris, and Enduring Work
When he was just a young man in his early twenties, Ernest Hemingway moved from Chicago, Illinois to a poor district in Paris. He had just returned from a short stint of serving with the Red Cross in World War I and wanted to pursue a career in writing. There was just one problem: he didn’t have much exposure to other writers.
Who would teach him?
In Chicago, Hemingway met Sherwood Anderson who encouraged him to move to Paris to meet Gertrude Stein, who led a community of writers, poets, and artists there. Plus, it was cheaper to live in Paris, and Hemingway could live modestly while still having time to travel and write.
In Paris, he met Stein, as well as Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and many others who would shape his work for years to come. This included a connection via F. Scott Fitzgerald to Scribner’s, the publisher that would later publish his novels and change the course of his career forever.
Before that decade in Paris, Hemingway was a writer of some notable talent and a pretty good journalist. But after those years immersed in the creative work of others, he was a household name.
Due to the connections created through that community, Hemingway became one of the most famous writers of the 20th Century. It’s inconceivable such a development could have happened anywhere else. Not because there was something special about the Left Bank at that time, but because without a network, creative work does not endure.
Without a network, creative work does not endure.
In other words, without Paris, there is no Hemingway. But what does that mean for mere mortals like you and me?