Hemingway's Iceberg Theory !

Topics: The Old Man and the Sea, Writing, Ernest Hemingway Pages: 8 (2875 words) Published: November 24, 2010
Apr. 2008, Volume 5, No.4 (Serial No.52) Sino-US English Teaching, ISSN1539-8072, USA 51
On Hemingway’s iceberg theory
distinct image with the succinct and direct writing, the feeling and thought of the writer himself are hidden in the image to the largest extent. Thus, the emotion is plentiful, though included but not exposed; the thought is profound, though deeply concealed but not obscure. On account of this, the sensibility and perceptibility of literature are combined skillfully, leaving the readers to explore the emotion and thought of the work through the feeling of these distinct images.

Succinct words, distinct images, plentiful emotion and profound thought are the four fundamental elements of iceberg theory for further study, that is, the words and images are the so-called “1/8”while the emotion and thought are the so-called “7/8”. The formers are specific and visual while the latter are implied in the former. The words portray the images; the emotion is embodied in the images; the thought is embodied in the emotion. In the following part, the main features of the iceberg theory are to be analyzed in detail. 2. The main features of the iceberg theory

2.1 Succinct words
According to Hemingway’s aesthetic view, the real beauty should be the organic combination of the natural beauty and artistic beauty. Good works should not be the accumulation of rhetoric, but of one’s own particularity. He is object to the ornate diction which is flashy and without substance; he is also object to the meticulous descriptions of the character and complicated and delicate analysis of the mentality, because in this case, the readers can take in everything at a glance. He advocates that the writer should express the most complicated meaning by the most succinct words while avoiding the useless circuitousness. And this view is embodied in the following aspects. (1) Describing scenery

On the dimension of describing scenery, Hemingway, according to naturalism, never describes everything indiscriminatively. Instead, he refines and prunes the material so that anything that may be the obstacle is omitted. Thus, the writer provides readers with pictures which are objective and real. Comparing Hemingway with Fitzgerald, a famous writer of his time, we can find that what Fitzgerald hands down was the tradition of Henry James within British and American literature; he emphasizes on the complicated and delicate depiction; On the contrary, Hemingway brandishes his plank ax to chop down all the “disorderly hair” which depends on James’ style of writing completely, so that the distance between the writer (narrator) and the reader (receiver) is contracted to the lowest degree. Fitzgerald is an expert who excels in describing scenery. At the beginning of the long piece of fiction, he always emphasizes on a great deal of outdoor scenes and does not introduce the protagonist directly. Such depiction of the scenery is poetic and picturesque and the writer’s remarkable imagination, special writing style and marvelous artistic talent are shining between the lines of his works. Unavoidably, readers would feel pity for the writer spending so much writing on the scenery. Hemingway is different from him. He does not describe scene just for the scene, but expresses his emotions through the scene; the scene and emotions are not isolated, they are combined. For example, in The old man and the sea, there is such a paragraph of scene description:

He could not see the green of the shore now but only the tops of the blue hills that showed white as though they were snow -capped and the clouds that looked like high snow mountains above them. The sea was very dark and the light made prisms in the water. The myriad flecks of the plankton were annulled now by the high sun and it was only the great deep prisms in the blue water that the old man saw now with his lines going straight down into the water that was a mile deep (Hemingway, 1999, p. 30). Hemingway’s...

References: Cunliffe, M. 1985. American literature. Beijing: China Translation and Publishing Corporation.
Hemingway, E. 1999. A farewell to arms. Nanjing: Yilin Press.
Hemingway, E. 1999. For whom the bell tolls. Nanjing: Yilin Press.
Hemingway, E. 1999. The old man and the sea. Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Publishing House.
Hemingway’s iceberg theory. Retrieved from http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap7/hemingway.html.
(Edited by Stella, Jessica and Robert)
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