Ernest Hemingway on The Art of Fiction

25 07 2011

Here are some interesting tidbits I pulled from Ernest Hemingway’s 1958 interview in The Paris Review, on the Art of Fiction.

Among other things, Hemingway discusses his process, when he likes to write, and the value of editing. It’s highly readable and informative, despite his apparent boredom for most of the questions: “I see I am getting away from the question, but the question was not very interesting.” And, “when you ask someone old, tired questions you are apt to receive old, tired answers.”

Two highlights from the interview:

One, his confirmation of a writer needing space to create: “You can write any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you.”

Two, his answer to a question regarding an author’s training:

INTERVIEWER: What would you consider the best intellectual training for the would-be writer?

HEMINGWAY: Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.

Anyway, it’s a great interview. I urge anyone interested in a writer’s process or cantankerous literary icons to read the full interview.




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