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Happy Birthday, Papa Hemingway

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Nobel prize winning novelist Ernest Hemingway was born on this day, July 21st, 1899.

Controversial, brilliant, and always quotable, his words on fiction and truth, taken from a 1954 letter to Bernard Berenson, beautifully captures the tenacity and passion of Hemingway as a writer.

You know that fiction, prose rather, is possibly the roughest trade of all in writing. You do not have the reference, the old important reference. You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true.

Hemingway spoke often of the importance of truth in writing. He referred to it again during his Art of Fiction No. 21 interview with The Paris Review:

From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.

In this way, we encounter Hemingway’s own immortality, as it lives and breathes in the prose he worked so hard to create, and in the vast voices of writers he has influenced, and continues to influence to this day.

(photo source: loc.gov)

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