• Art of Inspiration

    • The inspiring story of a young man that sought out his favourite writer during the great depression.

    Hemingway recommends this reading list / 

    In 1930 a 22 year old writer embarked on a journey to meet his idol, Ernest Hemingway. During his trip, Arnold Samuelson faced all sorts of adversities like travelling in a cargo train for kilometres and kilometres without being able to get off, sleeping every night in jail cell, being attacked by mosquitos in Florida without being able to take cover…but at the end, he accomplished the feat he had set out on, he arrived at the author’s house and knocked his door.

    Hemingway received him on his porch and gave him the following advice:

    The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never write too much at a time,” Hemingway said, tapping my arm with his finger. “Never pump yourself dry. Leave a little for the next day. The main thing is to know when to stop. Don’t wait till you’ve written yourself out. When you’re still going good and you come to an interesting place and you know what’s going to happen next, that’s the time to stop. Then leave it alone and don’t think about it; let your subconscious mind do the work. The next morning, when you’ve had a good sleep and you’re feeling fresh, rewrite what you wrote the day before. When you come to the interesting place and you know what is going to happen next, go on from there and stop at another high point of interest. That way, when you get through, your stuff is full of interesting places and when you write a novel you never get stuck and you make it interesting as you go along.

    Hemingway advised Samuelson to stay away from contemporary writers and to read only dead ones that have survived the passing of time. After this he offered to write him a list —that luckily still survives— with the texts that every young writer, in his opinion, should read. The list includes some essential classics, as well as some jewels that we should seek out.

    Samuelson ended up working for Hemingway as the keeper of the boat the author used to travel frequently to Cuba in, to go fishing. The young writer wrote a book entitled With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba , and in turn, Hemingway wrote his experience in an article for Esquire entitled “Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter”. The inspiring story leaves us the brilliant advice above and with the following reading list:

    “The Blue Hotel” and “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crance

    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

    Dubliners by James Joyce

    The Red and the Black by Stendhal

    Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham

    Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

    Hail and Farewell by George Moore

    The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    The Oxford Book of English Verse

    The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings

    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

    Far Away and Long Ago by W.H Hudson

    The American by Henry James

    Also in Sphere: Precise Bullets: Hemingway’s advice for writers

    Tagged: Ernest Hemingway, great writers, books, reading advice, inspiration