Ernest M. Hemingway (1899-1961)

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

“Never mistake motion for action.”

“The shortest answer is doing the thing.”

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

“If two people love each other, there can be no happy end to it.”

“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”

“Develop a built-in bullshit detector.”

“A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

“All thinking men are atheists.”

“I know the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started.”

“Why should anybody be interested in some old man who was a failure?”

“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.”

“I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”

“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective.”

“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places.”

“The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.”

“Fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase in wealth.”

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

“But in modern war you will die like a dog for no good reason.”

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

“All things truly wicked start from an innocence.”

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure that it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

“This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don’t want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste.”

“For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”

“Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.”

“What is moral is what you feel good after.”

“Or don’t you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.”

“But did thee feel the earth move?”

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

“Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age.”

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it.”

“There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.”

“The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.”

“I never had to choose a subject – my subject rather chose me.”

“If you have a success you have it for the wrong reasons. If you become popular it is always because of the worst aspects of your work.”

“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you dies each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.”

“Cowardice… is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend functioning of the imagination.”

“A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”

“The great thing is to last and get your work done, and see and hear and understand and write when there is something that you know and not before and not too damn much afterwards.”

“I don’t like to write like God. It is only because you never do it, though, that the critics think you can’t do it.”

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”

“As you get older, it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”

“A writer’s problem does not change. It is always how to write truly and having found out what is true to project it in such a way that it becomes part of the experience of the person who reads it.”

“By “guts” I mean, grace under pressure.”

“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

“I’m not going to get into the ring with Tolstoy.”

“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.”

“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. You have to take what is not palpable and make it completely palpable and also have it seem normal and so that it can become a part of experience of the person who reads it.”

“I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars. Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon. The moon runs away. But imagine if a man each day should have to try to kill the sun? We are born lucky. Yes, we are born lucky.”

“There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.”

“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

“Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. There are only certain words which are valid and similes (bring me my dictionary) are like defective ammunition (the lowest thing I can think of at this time).”

“In order to write about life, first you must live it!”

“Drinking is a way of ending the day”

“The real reason for not committing suicide is because you always know how swell life gets again after the hell is over.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“Wars are caused by undefended wealth.”

“No weapon has ever settled a moral problem. It can impose a solution but it cannot guarantee it to be a just one.”

“For a war to be just three conditions are necessary – public authority, just cause, right motive.”

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

“I have noticed that doctors who fail in the practice of medicine have a tendency to seek one another’s company and aid in consultation. A doctor who cannot take out your appendix properly will recommend you to a doctor who will be unable to remove your tonsils with success.”

“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it-don’t cheat with it.”

“All you can be sure about in a political-minded writer is that if his work should last you will have to skip the politics when you read it. Many of the so-called politically enlisted writers change their politics frequently . Perhaps it can be respected as a form of the pursuit of happiness.”

“Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.”

“Live life to the fullest.”

“A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.”

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

“You can wipe out your opponents. But if you do it unjustly you become eligible for being wiped out yourself.”

 “The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn, and anybody is cheating who takes politics as a way out. All the outs are too easy, and the thing itself is too hard to do.”

“Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo style of architecture.”

“Retirement is the ugliest word in the language.”

“How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.”

“There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.”

“Never confuse movement with action.”

“When you give power to an executive you do not know who will be filling that position when the time of crisis comes.”

“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.”

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