Hemingway & Voice

While studying in England, I sat a course featuring 20th Century US Literature, where one work by Ernest Hemingway was included. Around four o’clock over tea one day, the English students were having a field day denouncing Hemingway’s economy in writing as paltry, low-level and unimaginative in vocabulary and wording, as well as being moronically over simplistic in syntax. To drive their case home, one student reached for the nearby book and started reading the text aloud in formal, British English. The reader finished with a condemning wail, “This is not true and proper LIT-rit-chur.”


At this point in the conversation, I broke in and, taking the piece under question in hand, began reading the same passage in my thoroughly spare, flat and earthy Upper-Midwestern accent. You see, Hemingway and I are old neighbors. Delivered thus—orally—the work possessed a terse, full-bodied and weighty pregnancy that was undeniable. It was a less-is-more situation. The room fell silent.

Setting the book down, there was the quiet of a new understanding being born into that space. A new door had opened.

Whatever you express, communicate from the singular seat of your own authentic voice.