Hemingway remembered by A.E. Hotchner

In 1968, A.E. Hotchner wrote a very moving tribute to his great friend Ernest Hemingway. In his book, Papa Hemingway, Hotchner shared many wonderful stories and his insight into the brilliant author. Here are some great Hemingway quotes, as recounted by A.E. Hotchner. 

  • Every man’s life ends the same way and it is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguishes one man from another.
  • Never confuse movement with action.
  • Nobody knows what’s in him until he tries to pull it out. If there’s nothing or very little, the shock can kill a man.
  • The parody is the last refuge of the frustrated writer…. The step up from writing parodies is writing on the wall above the urinal.
  • Man can be destroyed but not defeated.
  • You don’t own anything until you give it away.
  • You invent fiction, but what you invent it out of is what counts. True fiction must come from everything you’ve ever known, ever seen, ever felt, ever learned.
  • Greatness is the longest steeplechase ever run; many enter; few survive.
  • I only write once on any one theme; if I don’t write it all that one time, then it is not worth saying.
  • There are only two absolutes I know about writing: one is that if you make love while you are jamming on a novel, you are in danger of leaving the best parts of it in the bed; the other is that integrity in a writer is like virginity in a woman – once lost, it is never recovered.
  • How the hell can you bleed over your own personal tragedies when you’re a writer? You should welcome them because serious writers have to be hurt really terrible before they can write seriously. But once you get the hurt and can handle it, consider yourself lucky – that is what there is to write about and you have to be as faithful to it as a scientist is faithful to his laboratory. You can’t cheat or pretend. You have to excise the hurt honestly.
  • All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you’ve read one of them you will find that all that happened, happened to you and then it belongs to you forever: the happiness and unhappiness, good and evil, ecstasy and sorrow, the food, wine, beds, people and the weather. If you can give that to readers, then you’re a writer.
  • Writing at its best is a lonely life…. For he does his work alone, and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity or the lack of it each day.
  • You put down the words in hot blood, like an argument, and correct them when your temper has cooled.
  • If I can’t exist on my own terms, then existence is impossible.

Photo: Hotchner and Hemingway (and Mary seated in the middle) poolside at LaConsula, Malaga, Spain, the morning of his 60th birthday – 1959


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