Hemingway on writing

‘In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it to the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused’. – Ernest Hemingway, ‘Preface to “The First Forty-nine”‘, in The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 3–4.


  1. Hemingway, like so many writers, was an existential man, or person. But still the mystery of faith in God does not appear it seems, at least theologically? As it is not written upon. But humanity is also itself a reality of its own, and he certainly touched that depth, in ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls, etc.’ Though Hemingway was a convert to Catholicism. And it does appear that his suicide had some real family and medical aspects. And we should note that War was a great reality in his life also, WW1, to WW2, and he went along with some of the American infantry. Later after WW2 he was given the American medal the Bronze Star. Again, certainly an “existential” life!


  2. Hemingway on writing:

    “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, s*** detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”


  3. I am Swiss and have not read much by Hemingway, because I find him most depressing. I did try repeatedly and what I could take best was his journalism, outright journalism with reports about inflation, skiing, people’s opinion.

    I think he is one of the greatest writers because of his language, but he is not a good thinker. It seems he never understood what thinking was about. Thinking is not the same as sinking deeper and deeper intop some thought or mood.


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