How Ernest Hemingway Changed The Writing Landscape


Ernest Hemingway, born 21 July 1899, was one of the great American novelists of the 20th century. From the 1920s to the 1950s, he produced seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

His life was an adventurous, but chequered one. He was an ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War 1 and was present at the D-Day landings in Normandy in World War 2. He married four times and divorced three times. He was a functioning alcoholic all his life. After struggling with depression in later years, he committed suicide just as his father had, on 2 July 1961.

His inspiration

The inspiration for his first novel came while living in Paris as a foreign correspondent. It was here that he made friends with other artists and writers who would shape his literary life. Among them were Ezra Pound, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein, who became his mentor for a time. He was a key part of what Stein called ‘The Lost Generation’, which was the generation that came of age during World War 1 and bore its mark indelibly. 

His writing style

His writing style is distinctively lean and economical. This is thanks to his journalistic background and his willingness to swim upstream
from the elaborate prose popular in his day. His tight style and declarative sentences changed the landscape of American literature, and his writing continues to impact readers and writers alike.

10 Hemingway Quotes On Writing

  1. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
  2. There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
  3. Write hard and clear about what hurts.
  4. 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: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.
  5. The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
  6. If a writer stops observing, he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.
  7. I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.
  8. Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
  9. The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.
  10. It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

If you want to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Donna Radley

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