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Ernest Hemingway on Writing [Kindle Edition]

Larry W. Phillips
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Book Description

An assemblage of reflections on the nature of writing and the writer from one the greatest American writers of the twentieth century.

Throughout Hemingway’s career as a writer, he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing—that it takes off “whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.”

Despite this belief, by the end of his life he had done just what he intended not to do. In his novels and stories, in letters to editors, friends, fellow artists, and critics, in interviews and in commissioned articles on the subject, Hemingway wrote often about writing. And he wrote as well and as incisively about the subject as any writer who ever lived…

This book contains Hemingway’s reflections on the nature of the writer and on elements of the writer’s life, including specific and helpful advice to writers on the craft of writing, work habits, and discipline. The Hemingway personality comes through in general wisdom, wit, humor, and insight, and in his insistence on the integrity of the writer and of the profession itself.
—From the Preface by Larry W. Phillips

Editorial Reviews Review

"Throughout Ernest Hemingway's career as a writer," says Larry W. Phillips in his introduction to Ernest Hemingway on Writing, "he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing." Hemingway seems to have courted bad luck. Phillips has amassed a slender book's worth of Hemingway's reflections on writing, culled from letters, books, interviews, speeches, and an unpublished manuscript. These musings are arranged into topics such as "Advice to Writers," "Working Habits," and "Obscenity" (of which there is plenty here). Sometimes ponderous, other times offhand, these thoughts form a portrait of a man driven to create not solely the best writing he could, but the best writing, period. Hemingway craved exactness, both in his work and in the work of others; he strove to make every word necessary. "Eschew the monumental," he wrote to Maxwell Perkins in 1932. "Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones." His aim? Mere perfection. "I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit," he confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. "I try to put the shit in the wastebasket." --Jane Steinberg

From Library Journal

Yet another volume reproduced to celebrate old Hemingstein's centennial, this 1984 title offers Hemingway's comments on the writing game gleaned by editor Phillips from the author's numerous fiction and nonfiction works as well as his personal correspondence. It's not "how-to" instructional advice but rather Ernesto's impressions on writing and those who do it. More of a fan's book than a practical guide.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 205 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (July 25, 2002)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0O1I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,339 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
122 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He won the Nobel Prize in Literature for a reason November 22, 2003
Of course, I've read everything he wrote, but I wasn't prepared to get the key information on writing enclosed in this little book. Most people think Hemingway was a rough and tumble guy who wrote in his spare time when he had the urge. Most other times, the legend goes, he was too busy drinking, fishing, or womanizing. This book clearly shows that ain't so. He spent most of his time, the way real writers do: Writing and thinking about writing. Often he would check into a hotel, let everyone know he was there, and then stay somewhere else so as not to be disturbed from his main mission. The gems of informations depicted here come in the form of advice to the Mice (H's term for young student writers) from Y.C. (your correspondent). Did you know, for instance, "Most live writers do not exist. Their fame is created by critics who always need a genius of the season, someone they understand completely and feel safe in praising, but when these fabricated geniuses are dead they will not exist." Or how about this gem: "If an sonofbitch could write he wouldn't have to teach in college." Particulary interesting is Papa's advice to writers about reading. He was of the opinion that most writers write too much and don't read enough. His advice is to master Tolstoi, Flaubert, Mann, Joyce, Fielding, Mark Twain, Stendhal, Dostoevskis, Crane, Kipling, Turgenev, Hudson, James, (on and on so fast you can't write them down, three times that many) before you start writing. Very good advice, I would say. His point being you must first read the literature before you can write literature. This book does omit one piece of advice that H never gave but which he practiced by example. He memorized the King James Bible (cf Moveable Feast) and could recite it by heart. Read more ›
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Hemingway was reticent about his craft; he feared that talking about it would destroy it, or even worse, be a substitute for it. Yet, woven throughout his novels and other writings are numerous observations about writers and the art of writing. In "Ernest Hemingway On Writing", Larry Phillips has culled several hundred excerpts from Hemingway's books, interviews, and personal correspondences that touch upon some aspect of writing. They range in length from a mere sentence fragment to several paragraphs. As Phillips explains in the introduction, "This book contains Hemingway's reflections on the nature of the writer and on the elements of the writer's life, including specific helpful advice to writers on the craft of writing, work habits, and discipline. The Hemmingway personality comes through in general wisdom, wit, humor, and insight..."
Some of these reflections are insightful, some are humorous, and some show us Hemingway at his best. But this is not to say that the collection works as a whole. While I like the idea behind book, and feel it has definite value, there are a good number of excerpts that do not seem to have any of the above qualities, so I question why they were included. They seem like filler. Nonetheless, I'll list a few of the reflections that I liked, as they show something of Hemingway's many moods and styles.
In a letter to Charles Scribner, Hemingway reveals a tortured ambivalence about writing: "Charlie there is no future in anything. I hope you agree. That is why I like it at a war. Every day and every night there is a strong possibility that you will get killed and not have to write. I have to write to be happy... But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful inspiration for writers November 27, 1999
By A Customer
Hemingway's straight-to-the-point advice reveals much about his own process of writing and helps us get inside his head (just a bit) which is of much interest to the Hemingway fan. It is also great for those of us seeking advice or new ways of looking at different aspects of the writing process. Even when I don't entirely agree with his comments, they are insightful and enlightening and offer suggestions for what may be benificial variations in our too-routine writing routines. I also must agree with one of the other reviewers: the paper is poor (like the brown stuff you used to practice your alphabet letter writing on when you were in kindergarten.) Why? I don't know- this is a book that I can easily refer to anytime I feel myself lacking in drive and I would like to know that it will stand the test of time (physically); a few passages from it and I feel energized by what he has to say. Regardless of the por paper quality, I HIGHLY recommend it.
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54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not as useful as one would hope August 28, 2003
At the risk of being branded a heretic or something, I have to say that while the quotes throughout this book are interesting, it simply is not the guide to writing that one is led to believe it is.
It is a great reference for finding Hemingway's commentary on various aspects of writing and it does contain some genuinely good advice. But ultimately it is a collection of Hemingway's commentary and quotes, not a true guide to writing.
I think the book would work better had the editor (who is to be complemented for culling all of this information out of Hemingway's work and letters and organizing it) incorporated further advice or commentary from other sources. Perhaps by asking some other author or authors how Hemingway's advice has applied to them, the book would better work as a kind of writer's guide.
Regardless, the book is a great source of Hemingway quotes and commentary and I do recommend it. Just don't expect it to turn you into the next Ernest Hemingway.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive comments on writing
This book is short, a collection of comments Hemingway made throughout his life concerning writing, but not compiled by him. Read more
Published 13 days ago by T. M. Thurston
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
The favorite gift for my college son!
Published 4 months ago by Mary Rose
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Kevin A. Smith Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed reading these thoughts on the writing process by the...
I really enjoyed reading these thoughts on the writing process by the great man as I am a big fan and a writer myself. Read more
Published 7 months ago by E. G. Eldridge
5.0 out of 5 stars As a Writer - This Is Essential
Hey - read this just for his book list. Okay - you'll get depressed when you see all the stuff he expects you to have read. But what are you waiting for? Read more
Published 11 months ago by Franklin Deverell
5.0 out of 5 stars Every writer should own this book.
This is a great little book, full of Hemingway at his best!! No fat; just "clean, well-lighted" sentences. I guarantee: it will make you a better writer.
Published 11 months ago by SDS
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
Just a hodge-podge of Mr. Hemingway's notes to people..........worthless. A serious writer could glean no important tips from this book.
Published 11 months ago by Sharon Peterson
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice collection
This is a nice collection of tidbits about writing from Hemingway letters, books, interviews, etc. I wouldn't purchase it again though. Read more
Published 12 months ago by W. Perry Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely phrases and insights
Enjoyed getting a little peak behind the scenes of one of my favorite writers. The one where he talks about taking days to craft 45 words struck home!
Published 12 months ago by Pamela D. Taeuffer
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I expected more, something different and some parts were great, but overall the book was not what I thought it would be. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Edyta Brzeczkowska
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