India Uncut

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The dignity of an iceberg

Here's Ernest Hemingway on writing:
If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.
This is from Death in the Afternoon.

It's true of all kinds of writing, of course, not just fiction. Even while reading blogs, I can often sense a writer's weight, and the depth of his knowing, behind the simplest prose. And equally, it is easy to tell when, despite fancy words and dense language, the writer doesn't know his subject well enough.

I'm a huge fan of icebergs.

Update: Rishi points me to Hemingway's Nobel speech. I love the bit about facing eternity.
amit varma, 10:20 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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