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The Nick Adams Stories

Nick Adams is a fictional character who appears in 16 stories Hemingway wrote who has much in common with the real life Ernest Hemingway. Readers meet Nick as a small child, see him as a young man on his own, learn about his war experiences in Italy and the effect they had on him, hear but him as a young married man in Europe and even experience Nick as a father talking about his own father. His family includes a father who is a doctor and who loves to hunt and fish, a mother who can be overbearing, and a sisters with whom her sometimes interacts.

The Nick Adams StoriesThese stories were published in a number of collections between 1923 and1933 and were first compiled as a chronologically arranged separate volume in 1972 titled The Nick Adams Stories. (Nick Adams stories) The compilation also included 8 previously unpublished fragments that give further information about Nick and fill in some missing information,

In 1961 the feature film Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man was released with much fanfare. It was a Hollywood attempt to knit together the separate stories into a plotted narrative and many movie goers assumed the film was telling the real life story of Ernest Hemingway - which it was not. Despite starring Paul Newman, Eli Wallach, Jessica Tandy and Richard Beyer, the film was a commercial flop. The Michigan scenes were filmed in Wisconsin and Hemingway family members were critical of the film's insinuation that these stories told the actual story of Ernest's youth.

Many readers and critics read these Nick Adams stories for clues to Hemingway's own life and feelings. Because the characters seem so real it is very tempting to assume Nick and Ernie are one in the same and that what happened to Nick must have happened to Ernie? How else could he write so vividly about it?

In truth, Ernie only used his own life for inspiration and Nick is indeed a fictional character. As Hemingway himself said, "Nick in the stories was never himself. He made him up... That was what made it good. Nobody knew that." (from The Nick Adams Stories, On Writing)