Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway Quotes

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"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you.... If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer."

Ernest Hemingway, "Old Newsman Writes: A Letter from Cuba," 1934

"She shot very well this good, this rich b****, this kindly caretaker and destroyer of his talent. Nonsense. He had destroyed his talent himself. Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook."

Ernest Hemingway, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

"Nick slipped off his pack and lay down in the shade. He lay on his back and looked up into the pine trees. His neck and back and the small of his back rested as he stretched. The earth felt good against his back. He looked up at the sky, through the branches, and then shut his eyes. He opened them and looked up again. There was a wind high up in the branches. He shut his eyes again and went to sleep."

Ernest Hemingway, "Big Two-Hearted River: Part I"

"If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things."

Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

"A man can be destroyed but not defeated."

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

"Gertrude Stein and me are just like brothers."

Ernest Hemingway, letter to Sherwood Anderson, 1922

"You see I am trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across - not to just depict life—or criticize it—but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me you actually experience the thing. You can't do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful. Because if it is all beautiful you can't believe in it."

Ernest Hemingway, letter to his father, 1925

"There is seven-eights of it under water for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn't show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story."

Ernest Hemingway in interview with Paris Review 1958

"It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics."

Ernest Hemingway,1945 letter to Maxwell Perkins

"We are all b****ed 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. Be as faithful to it as a scientist."

Ernest Hemingway, 1934 letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald

"But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'"

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

Ernest Hemingway, Nobel laureate speech

"He hated his mother, with reason. She was solid hell. A big false lying woman; everything about her was virtuous and untrue. Now I know enough to know that no woman should ever marry a man who hated his mother ... Deep in Ernest, due to his mother, going back to the indestructible first memories of childhood, was mistrust and fear of women. Which he suffered from always, and made women suffer; and which shows in his writing."

Martha Gellhorn, in a 1969 letter to her son Sandy

"It may be true that Hemingway's earlier writings display brutal, cynical, and callous sides which may be considered at variance with the Nobel Prize's requirement for a work of an ideal tendency. But on the other hand, he also possesses a heroic pathos which forms the basic element in his awareness of life, a manly love of danger and adventure with a natural admiration for every individual who fights the good fight in a world of reality overshadowed by violence and death."

Anders Osterling, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, presenting Hemingway's Nobel Prize

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