How did one of history’s greatest writers — Ernest Hemingway — get going with his craft, develop his indelible style, and infuse his narratives with memorable life and compelling tension?
Today we delve into the answers to those questions with Hemingway scholar Mark Cirino, who is a professor of English, the editor and author of half a dozen books on Hemingway — including Ernest Hemingway: Thought in Action — and the host of the One True Podcast which covers all things related to Papa.
Mark and I our begin our conversation with how Hemingway cut his teeth with writing as a journalist, how the “iceberg theory” underlay his approach to writing as a novelist, and how his years in Paris — and the books, people, and art he encountered there — influenced his work and the trajectory of his career.
We then discuss how his travel and recreational pastimes allowed him to write with a vivid firsthand understanding of certain places and pursuits, what his writing routine was like, and how the characters in his novels explore the tension between thought and action. We end our conversation with Mark’s recommendation for where to start reading Hemingway if you’ve never read him or haven’t read him in a long time, and what Mark thinks was Hemingway’s “one true sentence.”
Today, more than 60 years after his death, Ernest Hemingway is known not just for his moving stories but his technical writing skills.
According to E.J. Gleason, professor of Irish and American literature at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, Hemingway had found his artistic voice before he turned 26.
His signature writing style, characterized by short phrases constructed using plain, everyday English, left a profound impact on the literary world, shaping generations of aspiring fiction and non-fiction writers that followed in his footsteps.
Although Hemingway’s way of writing may seem straightforward, it is by no means simplistic, let alone easy to imitate. A less talented writer might hide their lack of substance behind difficult words and convoluted sentences, but to write like Hemingway requires both a great effort and real intellect. Like a surgeon, Hemingway stripped his stories of any and all insignificant or superfluous information, until only a basic skeleton and a handful of vital organs were left on the page.
In the beginning of the end for Ernest Hemingway, as a 1954 trip to Africa is called in the new PBS documentary “Hemingway,” the great American novelist breaks his skull for the second time in his life during a plane crash in the outback.
Trapped as flames spread to the cabin, Hemingway is forced to use his head as a battering ram to create an opening in the twisted metal of the plane’s wreckage.
It’s the last of at least five major concussive head injuries that Hemingway sustained throughout his adult life and punctuates a growing problem. This time, his symptoms include slurred speech, double-vision and recurring deafness.
Editor’s Note: Above photo, text: “1946: Living in Cuba.. The couple settled into Cuba on a plantation named Finca Vigía. They would live in the village outside of Havana for more than a decade.
Whether you’ve read one of his novels or have simply heard something described as “Hemingway-esque,” chances are you’re familiar with the direct prose the influential author adopted in the 1920s.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Hemingway’s personal life is just as interesting as what lives on his pages. Now, more than 50 years after his death, take a look back at rare photographs of the American writer’s life.