Back in Time is a newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 1961.
Idaho, Sunday, 2nd July: Author and Journalist Ernest Miller Hemingway was found dead from a bullet wound at his home earlier this morning – barely three weeks before his 62nd birthday.
He was found bleeding on the floor by his wife, Mary Hemingway, who had been resting in one of the upper-floor rooms when she heard the report of a gunshot.
She later explained that her husband had been in the middle of cleaning the gun when the accident took place. But interestingly, Mr. Hemingway was very knowledgeable about guns, especially the one he was handling when he accidentally shot himself.
Under such circumstances, it becomes difficult to rule out a suicide case, although it has been entirely eliminated for the time being – Mrs. Hemingway told friends that she could not find any note from her deceased husband. And while friends and family have expressed grief at the unexpectedness of the writer’s death, many have made assertions about him to appearing “thinner and depressed”.
It has not been yet decided whether there would be an inquest for the same, or not.
Prior to this incident, it was known that Hemingway was suffering from chronic pain and ill-health that resulted from two successive plane crashes, which he managed to escape from, and was also being treated for hypertension and hepatitis at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
The writer was a proud recipient of Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1953), and Nobel Prize in Literature (1954). He was well-known for his novels A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), The Old Man and the Sea (1952). It was his first novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926) that brought instant fame to his name, and compelled Dr. James Nagel – one of the leading scholars on Hemingway – to emphasise on how “his writing changed the history of American writing”.
Indeed, this incident has come as a harsh blow to the literary world, and is likely to remain a dark blotch in history for literature enthusiasts all over.
Post-Scriptum: The incident had naturally gripped media and caused a frenzy amongst the people. Even though Hemingway’s public life seemed blissful, in reality, he had had a rough time right from his childhood. His mother’s habit of dressing him up in frocks, contrasted sharply with his father’s excessively masculine personality and frequent use of the razor strop to beat some discipline and manliness into him – which, doubtlessly, caused a lot of confusion to brew up in Hemingway’s highly sensitive mind.
Later on, his guilt surrounding his father’s suicide – owing to how he used to contemplate killing his own father as a child – worsened his relationship with his mother, as he had taken to blaming her for his death.
It was also said that the writer had developed an identity crisis due to his dark, unstable childhood, which made him jolly and gay at one moment, and vicious or cruel at the next.
His brief spells of frequent hospitalisation did nothing to improve the situation.
In retrospect, several newspaper articles had predicted the writer’s suicidal instincts correctly – but the historical background only makes his writings appear more painful. His inability to come out of the vicious cycle revolving around his conflicting childhood, his history of alcoholism, of an unpleasant and gloomy thought-process, and his fight with Depression, makes one think of the urgency and seriousness with which every single negative thought needs to be treated. Indeed, even though it was his oppressively dark lifestyle that gave rise to such brilliant literary works, it must be kept in mind that it all came at a cost.