Segments in this Video

Ernest Hemingway (03:24)


Hemingway made many false claims about his life, creating unsustainable public expectations. Writer Tobias Wolf explains how he became inseparable from his self-made avatar.

Hemingway's Life with Pauline Pfeiffer (04:24)

Hemingway describes happiness at his Florida home with his second wife and two sons; his first son from a previous marriage summered at the house. Hemingway followed strict writing schedules, fished, refereed boxing matches, hung out at Sloppy Joe’s, and was a good father.

Transforming Literature (08:25)

Writers read Hemingway to learn sentence structure and story organization; he used autobiographical styles. Fascinated by life and death themes, “Death in the Afternoon” explains the mechanics and philosophy of bullfighting; the press criticized it for encouraging cruel practices.

Hemingway's African Safari (04:48)

Hemingway loved hunting from a young age and idolized Theodore Roosevelt. In 1933 he went on a two-month safari, killing large game. He kept a journal that he referenced for later works. Hemingway valued the continent’s landscape, wildlife, and sense of isolation.

Escapism (06:57)

During the fifth year of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s Emergency Relief Administration transformed Key West into a tourist destination. Visitors invaded Hemingway’s privacy and he regularly sailed to Havana to fish and drink; he evolved into a legendary character.

Safari Inspired Works (11:00)

“Green Hills of Africa” was published in 1935; critics heavily panned it. Hemingway became dissatisfied with life and his wife, writing two stories about marriage failures; “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” and “In the Snows of Kilimanjaro” were well received.

Depression, War, and Fascism (10:30)

Leftists pressured Hemingway to align with working classes; capitulating after a hurricane killed laborers in Florida. He believed Hitler was dangerous but warned Americans against participating in another European conflict. Spain’s Civil War prompted him to support Loyalists and fight fascism.

Martha Gellhorn (04:18)

Hemingway met Gellhorn when she visited Key West in 1937. They became lovers, planning to cover the Spanish Civil War together. Hemingway received record sums for foreign correspondence with the North American Newspaper Alliance.

Political and Love Affairs (08:40)

Gellhorn and Hemingway coupled in Madrid for three years, staying near a loyalist communications center to better understand the war. Stalin began a takeover of the Spanish government; Hemingway did not report it, believing it would hurt anti-fascism causes.

Hemingway Leaves the Country (09:54)

Learning of Hemingway’s affair, Pauline attempted to restore their relationship. In Spring 1939, Hemingway returned to Cuba with Gellhorn. She rented an estate that he purchased and periodically returned to Key West; he asked for divorce in December.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" (09:16)

John McCain recalls reading the 1940s novel, identifying with the protagonist Robert Jordan. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it portrays an American professor volunteering to fight fascism. The book was successful, and Paramount bought movie rights; "The Times" proclaimed it his finest publication.

Hemingway's New Wife and War (05:55)

Hemingway married Gellhorn days after finalizing his divorce. In early 1941, they traveled to China, reporting on its war with Japan. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Germany and Italy declared war on America, prompting Washington to ask civilians to patrol Cuban waters; Hemingway vowed to help.

Hemingway's Alcoholism (05:14)

Hemingway was controlling and difficult to live with. Gellhorn and Hemingway's fear of each other required them to overcompensate by acting calm. Gellhorn began traveling on assignment frequently and became critical of Hemingway; he became verbally abusive.

Hemingway's Third Marriage (09:07)

As the Allies began winning the war, Gellhorn wanted Hemingway to join her in covering it; he became depressed when she left without him. Hemingway finally agreed to go and purposely overshadowed her work, forcing her take a dangerous sea route alone.

Credits: The Avatar (1929-1944) - Episode Two (02:38)

Credits: The Avatar (1929-1944) - Episode Two

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The Avatar (1929-1944) - Episode Two

Part of the Series : Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
3-Year Streaming Price: $339.95



Hemingway, having achieved a level of fame rarely seen in the literary world, settles in Key West with Pauline Pfeiffer and spends his time seeking new conquests in the natural world – marlin fishing in the Gulf Stream and hunting in Africa. Inspired by the fight against Fascism, he reports on the Spanish Civil War and begins a tempestuous romance with Martha Gellhorn.

Length: 106 minutes

Item#: BVL240907

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

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