Tag: Hemingway

Pamplona rises again

Friday, 13 February, 2015 0 Comments

The brand-new Museo Universidad de Navarra is expected to bring a stampede of art lovers to Pamplona and it might, in time, rival the economic impact of the annual running of the bulls during the festival of San Fermín. Talking of matters taurine, there’s a wonderful moment in The Sun Also Rises where the protagonist, Jake Barnes, arrives in Pamplona, sees the cathedral, enters and prays. This is Hemingway at his finest:

The Sun Also Rises “I knelt and started to pray and prayed for everybody I thought of, Brett and Mike and Bill and Robert Cohn and myself, and all the bullfighters, separately for the ones I liked, and lumping all the rest, then I prayed for myself again, and while I was praying for myself I found I was getting sleepy, so I prayed that all the bullfighters would be good, and that it would be a fine fiesta, and that we would get some fishing. I wondered if there was anything else I might pray for, and I thought I would like to have some money, so I prayed that I would make a lot of money… and as all the time I was kneeling with my forehead on the wood in front of me, and was thinking of myself as praying, I was a little ashamed, and regretted that I was such a rotten Catholic, but realised that there was nothing I could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never, but that anyway it was a grand religion, and I only wished I felt religious and maybe I would the next time.”

Rarely has irony been expressed so elegantly.


Keep. It. Short.

Monday, 10 November, 2014 0 Comments

“Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation.” Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

In his blog, Faith and Theology, Ben Myers praises short sentences. “I have been encouraging students to aim for shorter sentences that say exactly what you want to say, not for longer sentences that sound the way you would like to sound,” he writes.

“There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child.” Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Myers supports his argument with a quote from Tertullian of Carthage. In his treatise on the Trinity Against Praxeas, Tertullian cites a list of texts used by his critics and responds with a two-word sentence: ‘Legimus omnia‘ — ‘We’ve read all that.’ Impressed by this succinctness, Myers comments, “What a sentence! Sharp as a sniper’s shot.”

Ultimately, sentence length is a matter of style and the best writers know when to balance brevity with flow. The critical thing is knowing where to place the full stop.

“Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.” Truman Capote, In Cold Blood


The King of Spain says farewell

Tuesday, 3 June, 2014 0 Comments

The news of the abdication of King Juan Carlos sparked a memory of royalty in motion as described by by Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms:

“There were small gray motor-cars that passed going very fast; usually there was an officer on the seat with the driver and more officers in the back seat. They splashed more mud than the camions even and if one of the officers in the back was very small and sitting between two generals, he himself so small that you could not see his face but only the top of his cap and his narrow back, and if the car went especially fast it was probably the King. He lived in Udine and came out in this way nearly every day to see how things were going, and things went very badly.”

Hemingway is unbeatable.


“A little autobiography and a lot of imagination are best”

Tuesday, 24 July, 2012

“The fiction I’m most interested in has lines of reference to the real world. None of my stories really happened, of course. But there’s always something, some element, something said to me or that I witnessed, that may be the starting place. Here’s an example: ‘That’s the last Christmas you’ll ever ruin for us!’ I […]

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His style depends on engorged nouns, not absent adjectives

Friday, 1 June, 2012

“Hemingway is the bullshit-detector of modern literature: every verb earned by toil, every noun inhabited, every adjective deleted, they say, the better to tell you how it was.” So writes Andrew O’Hagan in his review of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Vol. I, 1907-22 for the London Review of Books. “Good reporters go hunting for […]

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