Friday, 2 July 2010

On this day...

American writer Ernest Hemingway committed suicide in 1961, at the age of 61. However, rather than concentrate on his life, a fascinating and rich subject, it is the subject of his death which proves immediately intriguing. Tragedy seems to have somewhat rested upon the Hemingways, as Ernest, by his death, became only one of the five family members to commit suicide within four generations, the others including his father, two siblings, and granddaughter.

Certainly, during the last years of his life, Hemingway began to suffer from increasing mental deterioration, including spates of paranoia in which he believed the FBI to be monitoring him and his accounts. Later released medical records reveal treatments for deeping depression, alcohol dependency, and a number of physical ailments inherited from his father.

Yet the reason for shooting himself with his favourite shotgun in the early morning of July 2nd remains more indistinct. Hemingway had frequently been known to talk about death as a 'gift', and even his wife, who only admitted it was suicide five years after the event, had conceeded it might have been done for noble reasons in an act of defiance. Hemingway's brother, later to commit suicide himself, perhaps most aptly and poignantly gave reason; 'Like a samurai who felt dishonoured by the word or deed of another, Ernest felt his own body had betrayed him'.

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