The Characteristics of Hemingway's Works

Topics: Ernest Hemingway, American literature, A Farewell to Arms Pages: 6 (2488 words) Published: March 31, 2010
The Characteristics of Hemingway’s Works
Ernest Hemingway, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1954, occupies an outstanding position in the American literature. He is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Hemingway is famous for his distinct writing style and his “Code Hero.” In addition, his many great works are based on his experiences of war. Hemingway’s writing style is arguably the most distinctive characteristic of his works. The minimalist style is the core of Hemingway’s writing style. His writing style contrasts with William Faulkner’s meticulous writing style. Margaret Anne O'Connor and John Alberti described, “If Faulkner confuses readers because he offers so many details for readers to sift through in order to understand what's going on, Hemingway confuses by offering so few” (par. 8). Hemingway developed his simple writing style while he was a reporter for the Kansas City Star. The newspaper office supported Hemingway to learn “short sentences, short paragraphs, active verbs, authenticity, compression, clarity and immediacy.” Hemingway said, "Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I've never forgotten them” (The Hemingway Resource Center par. 1). Hemingway developed “simple, direct, and somewhat plain” style. He seldom used adverbs or adjectives in his prose writing style. He eschewed using “direct statements and descriptions of emotion” and “place and things.” In addition, he wrote terse and clear dialogue (Cooper par. 4). If one of his sentences is compared with a sentence of William Faulkner, Hemingway’s distinct writing style can be recognized easily. In a novel A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway started the first paragraph as “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains” (3). In contrast with Hemingway’s minimalist writing style, in a short story “A Rose for Emily,” Faulkner described Miss Emily’s house as “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and . . . what had once been our most select street” (29). Hemingway’s minimalist writing style is connected with the “Iceberg Principle.” Even though, Hemingway used simple writing style, his works are not simple. He endeavored to pare down words and convey implied meanings in few words. According to the Hemingway’s “Iceberg Principal,” the omissions of special parts of a story intensify the story. To do so, a writer should leave out special parts of story in “conscious” and make a reader recognize the abbreviated parts of story. If the reader recognizes the abbreviated parts, the reader can notice and understand the story intensely (Timeless Hemingway par. 70). Will Carroll wrote that “Hemingway hid nothing from the reader, though the reader did have to work to find it” (par. 2). According to Jeffrey Hart, Hemingway described his “Iceberg Principle” as “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water” (par. 25). Another characteristic of Hemingway’s writing style is hard-boiled style. Anders Hallengren explained that “hard-boiled meant to be unfeeling, callous, coldhearted, cynical, rough, obdurate, unemotional, without sentiment” (par. 5). The hard-boiled style also has close connection with Hemingway’s simple writing style. Because of his concise writing style, Hemingway could hone hard-boiled style spontaneously. Because Hemingway did not provide character’s detail thought and emotion, he described violence, cruelty, and death, which are discussed much in his works, unsentimentally. That is the core of the hard-boiled style....

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