On this day in 1954, Ernest Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Because of illness, Hemingway was unable to attend the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, Sweden to receive his award in person. He did, however, prepare a brief speech which was read by John C. Cabot, United States Ambassador to Sweden.
In addition to expressing his appreciation to the Nobel administrators, Hemingway’s speech provided some insights on the writer’s life:
Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. 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 (1).
Characteristic of Hemingway’s writing, all four sentences in the paragraph above are declarative, that is they are sentences in which the subject precedes the verb, and they are sentences that make direct statements. Unlike interrogative sentences, they do not ask questions (Why is writing a lonely life?). Unlike imperative sentences, they do not make commands (Write everyday no matter what.) And unlike exclamatory sentences, they do not express strong emotion (Writing is hard work!).
Hemingway believed that it was the writer’s job to declare the truth, and as he explained in his memoir A Moveable Feast there’s no better way to declare the truth than in declarative sentences:
All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know. So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut the scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.
Today’s Challenge: The Title is Also Declarative
What is a declarative sentence that would serve as a good title for a personal anecdote? As Hemingway did with his novel The Sun Also Rises, try coming up with a good title in the form of one complete declarative sentence. Then write an anecdote, either fact or fiction, that matches the title. (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)
Quotation of the Day: Courage is grace under pressure. -Ernest Hemingway
12/10 TAGS: declarative sentence, syntax, Hemingway, Ernest, Nobel Prize, Cabot, John C., interrogative sentence, imperative sentence, exclamatory sentence, memoir, title, anecdote, narrative