1035 GMT August 17, 2019
Ernest Hemingway‘s restless spirit of adventure took him many places, where he so often received the inspiration to write his timeless books. He went to Spain during their civil war, he lived in Paris and spent time in Cuba.
However, early on in his adult life, he spent two years in Constantinople and was introduced to Greek culture during a tragic time for Hellenism.
Little is known about the writer’s beginnings as a journalist and his writings on the war between Greece and Turkey, which took place from 1920 to 1922. Hemingway was only 23 years of age when, on September 30, 1922, he arrived in Constantinople as a war correspondent to cover the Greco-Turkish War for the ‘Toronto Star’.
The story titled ‘Hemingway in Constantinople: Ernest Hemingway’s writings on the Greco-Turkish War in 1922’ in The Midwest Quarterly academic journal, written by Peter Lecouras is very enlightening about the writer’s first contact with Greek culture. The academic article was published on September 22, 2001.
The American legend wrote a total of 20 pieces during his time in Constantinople, beginning with the story ‘British Can Save Constantinople’, dated September 30, 1922, to his last article, ‘Refugees from Thrace’, which bore the dateline of November 14, 1922.
During those two years, Hemingway wrote about the war and its politics while at the same time honing the style that would make him a writer of renown. His experiences there inevitably made their way to his later works as well. The Greco-Turkish war, for instance, is referenced memorably in ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’, which he wrote in 1936.
According to Lecouras, Hemingway showed his sympathy for the half-million Thracians who were displaced in the Greco-Turkish War for the political and economic interests of the superpowers of the time — namely Britain, France and Italy.
Hemingway also blames the political decisions of the Greek leadership for the catastrophic results of the war in his articles. Following the line of the British foreign office and the American consulate in Ankara, he condemns the Greek cause and the decision of King Constantine to replace competent officers in the Greek army with his cronies.
In ‘Refugees from Thrace’, Hemingway observes that the Greek people leaving Eastern Thrace are fleeing the Turks. He describes with great sympathy the Greek peasants who march without knowing where they are going, knowing only that they must flee to save their lives.
The short story ‘On the Quai at Smyrna’, also inspired by the time the writer spent in Constantinople, is a harrowing work about the dreadful events of 1922. Hemingway describes with painful realism how Smyrna was burned by marauding Turkish soldiers and civilians.
A story about Hemingway appeared in the November 1979 Princeton Alumni Weekly journal called ‘Friends for Life: An Alum’s Recollections of Hemingway’ written by William Horne, Jr.
As all Hemingway aficionados know, Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve his country as a driver in World War I. William Horne likewise felt that he needed to do something for the cause, and the two young men boarded the same ship in New York that would take them to Bordeaux, France.
Hemingway and Horne met at the Austrian-Italian border, transporting wounded soldiers and running supply lines. This was the beginning of a very long friendship between the men.
After the war, Horne moved to Chicago, where he worked selling axles in the automotive industry. He then told Hemingway that he would support him financially as a writer because he believed in his talent.
The article was first published in usa.greekreporter.com.