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From Ernest Hemingway

 
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Harry
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 7:20 am    Post subject: From Ernest Hemingway Reply with quote

In an interview late in his life, Hemingway wrote this rambling and graceless little piece in answer to a question about the writer’s life. I think it’s one of the most facinating insights into his life I’ve ever read.

“You must be prepared to work always without applause. When you are excited about something is when the first draft is done. But no one can see it until you have gone over it again and again until you have communicated the emotion, the sights and the sounds to the reader, and by the time you have completed this the words, sometimes, will not make sense to you as you read them, so many times you have re-read them. By the time the book comes out you will have started something else and it is all behind you and you do not want to hear about it. But you do, you read it in covers and you see all the places that now you can do nothing about. All the critics who could not make their reputations by discovering you are hoping to make them by predicting hopefully your approaching impotence, failure and general drying up of natural juices. Not a one will wish you luck or hope that you will keep on writing unless you have political affiliations in which case these will rally round and speak of you and Homer, Balzac, Zola and Link Steffens. You are just as well off without these reviews. Finally, in some other place, some other time, when you can’t work and feel like hell you will pick up the book and look in it and start to read and go on and in a little while say to your wife, “Why this stuff is bloody marvelous.”

And she will say, “Darling, I always told you it was.” Or maybe she doesn’t hear you and says, “What did you say?” and you do not repeat the remark.

But if the book is good, is about something that you know, and is truly written and reading it over you see that this is so you can let the boys yip and the noise will have that pleasant sound coyotes make on a very cold night when they are out in the snow and you are in your own cabin that you have built or paid for with your work.

For we have thought the longer thoughts
And gone the shorter way.
And we have danced to devils' tunes,
Shivering home to pray;
To serve one master in the night,
Another in the day.
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Harry
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:11 am    Post subject: In Another Country Reply with quote

In Another Country - Hemingway

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the wind came down from the mountains.

The sad thing about it is that this short passage would be ridiculed if read by an internet editor these days. There’s a bucket-ful of “and’s,” the syntax is stiff and nothing of importance is communicated except the time of year and food hanging in a butcher shop. The editor would never see how the paragraph gradually slips from prose into poetry, never see the influence of Mark Twain or Gertrude Stein, and the vivid picture of wartime Milan.

It’s one of the reasons why there is so much bloodless internet fiction around and why most of it seems as though it was written by the same person.
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DaveR
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2004 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry, I ran accross this Hemmingway quote on an internet site. Don't know if Hemmingway really said it, but sounds like something he would say:

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."
Ernest Hemingway

The more one writes, the more truth it contains.
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Harry
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perfection is a moving target, Dave. It holds true for almost everything in life. I don't care whether you write, paint, play the piccolo or patch potholes in the street -- there's always something slightly wrong. Even after it's been fixed.
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DaveR
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2004 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry, I do agree with you about perfection being an unattainable goal, a moving target. Some can strive for the unatainable goal and remain sane. Others cannot cope with failure.

Was Hemmingway in the former or latter group?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who knows what really went through his mind?
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Harry
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question -- whom?

It seems to me, however, that Hemingway was prone to suicide. His father did the same thing. The gift of being able to write can set up almost impossible goals in a writer's mind. When he's no longer able to meet that challenge, suicide doesn't seem unreasonable. Maybe we can't understand how precious that gift was to him.
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Linda
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: From Ernest Hemingway Reply with quote

Harry wrote:


For we have thought the longer thoughts
And gone the shorter way.
And we have danced to devils' tunes,
Shivering home to pray;
To serve one master in the night,
Another in the day.



Harry, this post was beautiful. Thank you so very much.
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Theresa Allen
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 9:20 am    Post subject: Hemingway Reply with quote

In scrolling down, I read something that I couldn't agree with more:

"Perfection is a moving target, Dave. It holds true for almost everything in life. I don't care whether you write, paint, play the piccolo or patch potholes in the street -- there's always something slightly wrong. Even after it's been fixed." Harry.
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Brian Peters
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2004 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a mini-series lately on CBC about the life and times of Ernest. He lead quite a charismatic life. I didn't know he actually worked on the Toronto Star newspaper.

Anyway, in one of his many famous speeches he said:

"For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

Tough words to follow.
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Harry
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2004 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had a discussion of Hemingway on this site a couple of years ago, and I posted this personal tribute to him -- would anyone mind if I did so again?

On the way to work one morning on the commuter train I remember Dick Ford reaching across the aisle and slapping me with his newspaper.

“Below the fold. In the center.”

Hemingway committed suicide. It was 1961 and I was 42 years old and I couldn’t understand how a writer of his significance could do such a thing. I never read a thing of his I didn’t admire and later learn to love. I remember looking up at the sky with tears in my eyes.

He made me understand what a simple thing courage is and how much it takes out of you. He made me aware of bravery and friendship and nature’s realm. He showed me how hard it was to be simple -- to give just enough and no more.

There has never been, in my time, anyone to compare with him.
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Theresa Allen
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 11:42 am    Post subject: Hemingway Reply with quote

Brian, I have a copy of Dateline, Toronto: The Complete Toronto Star Dispatches, 1920-1924. It's a very old book, copyright sometime back in the 60s, I believe. I just looked it up on Amazon.com and found that it's no longer in print and the number of these books is limited.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 2:25 am    Post subject: From Hemingway Reply with quote

Upon learning the craft, Hemingway's short stories paved the way for me to express my emotion in words first the way I felt them when I thought about what I was writing at that moment. Of course later you read through the piece and relocate this comma, and show this image clearer (you know how it works), all to pass on your emotion to the reader for enjoyment.

Harry, I couldn't agree more when you said Hemingway's style would be ridiculed these days by internet editors, because no longer do they see writing as an art; soon it will be the same for poetry. The thing that I admire most from Hemingway is the music his words make on the paper while reading them. His terse, to-the-point sentances aren't simply telling something that would be better shown via an action, they flow like music, they create the atmosphere around you. The actions his characters do is what makes them human, his gift of evoking emotions in his readers is through the way he tells his tales.

Well, that is my two cents.

On a lighter note, have any of you guys read works from the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. I picked up a copy of 'A Sportsman's Sketches,' at the library, and is very reminicent of Hemingway in many ways. Some say this was of the first books Hemingway ever borrowed.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He was a great admirer of Chekov too. Russian literature wa just coming into vogue in the 20’s. He liked the style (I think), mainly because of its authenticity of place. He respected that as much as anything in the business - he never wrote a word unless he knew what he was talking about.

Thanks for picking up this subject, David - welcome to the Voice!
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Paul Grimsley
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope no one minds if I return to the point about perfection. I think that sometimes the imperfection of a piece can be important. I often learn more from what I did wrong and it sometimes seems more easy to both quantify and qualify your mistakes. When something goes right you can never be exactly sure what it is (not that you always can with errors of course). I suppose if we created the perfect piece of writing our drive to keep doing so would be diminished -- how could you top perfection?
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Harry
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Dangerous Season 1953

It’s harder to find the music now. It’s one of the last things he put together and maybe he was disappointed – thinking back – remembering.

And yet if you look hard enough you can find him – “The wine was as good as when you were twenty-one, and the food was marvelous as always. There were the same songs and good new ones that cracked and suddenly pounded on to the drums and the pipes. The faces that were young once were old as mine but everyone remembered how we were. The eyes had not changed and nobody was fat. No mouths were bitter no matter what the eyes had seen. Bitter lines around the mouth are the first signs of defeat. Nobody was defeated.”

His knowledge and love of the corrida was as deep and passionate as ever. So was his love affair with Spain. But in just a few years he killed himself. He would not be defeated.
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Linda
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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry wrote:
It’s harder to find the music now. ...


But thank God he found it Harry!

I turned 55 in February. I saw my first hurricane (Audrey) when I was 5...then last year Rita...this year, officials say could be worse. I watched Rita swell until it filled ½ of the Gulf of Mexico…a living monster crawling through our warm water, threatening, then stealing, ripping apart... changing forever our hopes and dreams...Hemingway said: All you have to do is write one true sentence…Harry, do you think we can do that? Can we write our way through the shadows of today? Surely, he left a candle bright enough for us to follow!

"il faut d'abord durer"
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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I know he said that many times, Linda. But if a person endures with nothing to give, it becomes pointless. What's the purpose? You reduce the value of all you've achieved.

When you look back at Van Gogh's last year, you wonder where his "music' went, and it becomes painfully obvious why he, too, killed himself.
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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

from “Wheat Field With Crows”


He lifted the painting from the easel and looked at it again under the bright lights. “How light and fragile it is - like dried flowers. I can see you now,” he said “with your easel and your canvas walking down the long road to the station, then climbing the steep hill past the Catholic church - past the cemetery. You want to paint once more, as well or better than you did at Arles. But there was never a light like there was at Arles. Never a blue so blue. Never a sun so warm. You stop to look at the canvas you’ve done this afternoon and you shake your head. You don’t know what has gone wrong, but you know there is nothing in you now - you’re empty ... “

“Where did the sunflowers go, the cypresses and the fields of wheat and corn? They don’t grow in Auvers, do they Vincent? Not like they did at Arles.”

“You could have given this painting to Theo. Instead, you’ve given it to me.”

©Harry Buschman 2005
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Linda
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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry, the beauty of those two posts give me chills...you have a gift and I love you gentle sir...let me push away from this drawing board...let me think...Van Gogh and Hemingway aside, you have much to offer, and it is my firm belief your best story has yet to be written...today, I will be burning limbs and parts of my neighbors tree that fell onto my property...I find strength and inspiration in the flames of those fires that often reach over 40 feet in the air...I will watch them today for words for my friend, an equally wise and vibrant flame...burning brightly from the famed streets of New York City.

I love you, sir.
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Linda
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry wrote:
Yes, I know he said that many times, Linda. But if a person endures with nothing to give, it becomes pointless. What's the purpose? You reduce the value of all you've achieved.

When you look back at Van Gogh's last year, you wonder where his "music' went, and it becomes painfully obvious why he, too, killed himself.


Harry, I've thought a lot about this over the weekend. Yes, I can see why those two great artists chose to end their lives, but, I'm certain the path toward self-destruction was set long before they lost the music...I believe Hemingway’s father also committed suicide...and well, Van Gogh's life was filled with warning signs...I think that's where balance comes in...while I love to write, and sometimes I think I'll die before I find the time and place to write my own great masterpiece (I speak this tongue in cheek), I also know way down in my heart that if I never write it...I will be content with all that I have done. Writing is a past time for me…it is not my life. And you, you have the memory of your lovely wife and the life you shared…writing is not the thing that has made you who you are…it's only a part of who your are. However, you’ve shown in your work that you can write equally well whether relating events from a child’s perspective or an older man’s. Had Van Gogh and Hemingway understood this, before they began to self-destruct, they may have lived longer and left behind far greater works.
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