“Death in the Afternoon”

A great quote from Hemingway:

“This too remember. If a man writes clearly enough anyone can see if he fakes. If he mystifies to avoid a straight statement, which is very different from breaking so-called rules of syntax or grammar to make an effect which can be obtained in no other way, the writer takes a longer time to be known as a fake and other writers who are afflicted by the same necessity” [those on the group that adore what they do] “will praise him in their own defense. True mysticism should not be confused with incompetence in writing which seeks to mystify where there is no mystery but is really only a necessity to fake to cover lack of knowledge or the inability to state clearly. Mysticism implies a mystery and there are many mysteries; but incompetence is not one of them; nor is overwritten journalism made literature by the injection of false epic quality. Remember this too: all bad writers are in love with the epic.”


Interestingly, when I googled for a transcription of this quote (yes, I’m that lazy), I found that everyone just quoted the last line, which makes no useful sense without the full paragraph.

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2 Responses to “Death in the Afternoon”

  1. author says:

    I think Hemingway must have been drunk when he wrote this. Ironically, he uses a lot of words to say a simple thing (write clearly), equivocates with the words ‘mystify’ and ‘mysticism’ (one meaning ‘obfuscate’, the other referring to something mysterious), and concludes with a blatant falsehood, disguised as an eternal truth: not all bad writers are in love with the epic – they are bad for many different reasons.

  2. Kewangji says:

    “I think Hemingway must have been drunk when he wrote”
    I think yes. :P

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