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Quotations From ERNEST HEMINGWAY

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  • 1.
    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.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. address recorded for the Nobel Prize Committee, Dec. 10, 1954, accepting the Nobel Prize for literature. Published in Carlos Baker, Hemingway: the Writer as Artist, ch. 13, third edition (1963).

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  • 2.
    You see it's awfully hard to talk or write about your own stuff because if it is any good you yourself know about how good it is—but if you say so yourself you feel like a shit.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. letter, Oct. 17, 1945, to poet and critic Malcolm Cowley. Selected Letters, ed. Carlos Baker (1981).
  • 3.
    That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. letter, Sept. 13, 1929, to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Selected Letters, ed. Carlos Baker (1981). Biographer and critic Leon Edel observed, in a 1988 interview, "The greatest enemy of writers is depression, which they can't avoid."

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  • 4.
    They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. A Moveable Feast, ch. 11 (1964).

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  • 5.
    All things truly wicked start from an innocence.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. A Moveable Feast, ch. 17 (1964).

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  • 6.
    The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life—and one is as good as the other.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. letter, Sept. 4, 1929, to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Selected Letters, ed. Carlos Baker (1981).

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  • 7.
    There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. letter, Sept. 13, 1952, to the critic Bernard Berenson. Selected Letters, ed. Carlos Baker (1981). Of The Old Man and the Sea published that year.

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  • 8.
    Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. Quoted in Toronto Star Weekly (March 4, 1922).
  • 9.
    He was just a coward and that was the worst luck any man could have.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls, ch. 30 (1940). Said of his father.
  • 10.
    The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.
    Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), U.S. author. Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls, ch. 43 (1940).

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