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War, Literature & the Arts

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Following his completion of Tender is the Night in 1934, F. Scott Fitzgerald sent a copy of the manuscript to his friend, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway replied with a long, thoughtful letter detailing the reasons he both “liked it and didn’t like it” (SL 407). He instructed Fitzgerald: “Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it” (408). The often-troubled friendship between these two masters of modernism has been the subject of a number of scholarly inquiries, with Fitzgerald often cast as the sensitive/feminine/intellectual to Hemingway’s unaffected/masculine/brute. As I will demonstrate in this article, however, Hemingway possessed a keen ability to represent gradations in traumatic nuance with which he is not often credited. Hemingway did, indeed, “use the hurt” of the Spanish Civil War while he had it, and it resulted in his masterpiece, For Whom the Bell Tolls.


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