For young people of Hemingway's generation, World War I was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. You simply had to be there. Many of those who did not engage in overseas combat because of age or other circumstances (like Hemingway's colleague F. Scott Fitzgerald) deeply regretted missing their chance. "Not for anything would I have missed the opportunity for a ringside view of the greatest spectacle to unfold in our time," wrote Henry Villard, a journalist and businessman who knew Hemingway during the war. "To many of us the war in Europe resembled a gigantic stage on which the most exciting drama ever produced was being played out."blank">A Farewell to Arms.
Through friends he met Hadley Richardson, a St. Louis native eight years his senior. They married in September 1921 and settled in Chicago—briefly. Hemingway's friend and fellow writer Sherwood Anderson had told him that he really needed to check out Paris. It was cheap (the exchange rate favored the dollar over the franc), the bars were great, and all the really good writers were going there. Hemingway was convinced. In December 1921 the newlywed couple set sail for Paris to become part of one of the greatest literary gatherings of the twentieth century.