Note the Way, the Hemingway That Is

Author: Ernest Hemingway
Title: “Italy, 1927”
Publisher: The New Republic, Vol. L. No. 650, 1927

Title: “Hemingway Reports Spain”
Publisher: The New Republic, Vol. LXXXXIII. No. 1206, 1938


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Fig. 1: Ernest Hemingway was an American author and journalist who lived from 1898-1961. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

Today in class we discussed two articles written by Ernest Hemingway (see fig. 1) during the first half of the twentieth century. Hemingway is one of the most famous American authors; two of his best known titles include A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He actually started out as a journalist and war correspondent – positions that greatly influenced his writing style.

As a correspondent, Hemingway used the telegram to communicate information (see fig. 2). This highly condensed form of communication, sometimes referred to as cabelese, influenced his short and simplistic style of writing. Later, however, he told Lincoln Steffens, “I had to quit being a correspondent. I was becoming to fascinated by the lingo of the cable” (Green 64). After this move, Hemingway evolved his style away from the condensed, short version to a much wordier style.


Fig. 2: A photo of a telegraphic message used during the twentieth century. The short, highly condensed style influenced Ernest Hemingway’s writing style.


This shift is evident in the two articles we read in class: “Italy, 1927” and “Hemingway Reports Spain,” written in 1927 and 1938, respectively. We will now briefly examine both articles to point out the differences in style between the two pieces of work written eleven years apart.

In “Italy, 1927,” Hemingway offers a series of short anecdotes about his encounters with Fascists in Italy. He employs a kaleidoscopic structure in which he uses the different stories to create an overall impression of the atmosphere during that time period. In the article, he describes his encounters with a stranger who hitchhikes on his car, ladies in a restaurant that try to seduce his friend, and a man on a bicycle who writes him a ticket.

In the article “Hemingway Reports Spain,” Hemingway does just what the title suggests – reports on Spain during the Spanish Civil War. He describes the efforts and experiences of the American soldiers during the trying times. He offers facts and figures on the attacks and casualties; when describing the front on Belchite, he lists 23 Americans killed and 60 wounded (“Spain” 1).

One of the biggest differences between Hemingway’s style in 1927 versus in 1938 is his sentence length. In the earlier article, he writes in very short and simple sentences, sometimes combined with a conjunction. This is evident in the passage about Spezia: “We came into Spezia looking for a place to eat. The street was wide and the houses high and yellow. We followed the tram track into the center of town” (“Italy” 2).


Fig. 3: A photo of the aftermath of the Battle of Belchite, which was fought during the Spanish Civil war from August 24th and September 7th, 1937.

By 1938, Hemingway is writing in much longer and wordier sentences. Sometimes one sentence constitutes as an entire paragraph: “They have fought with the first Spanish troops of the new government army, captured the strongly fortified heights and town of Quinto in  a brilliantly conceived and executed fashion, and have taken part with three Spanish brigades in the final storming of Belchite (see fig. 3) after it had been surrounded by Spanish troops” (“Spain” 1).

Another major difference between two articles is Hemingway’s employment of dialogue. In “Italy, 1927” he includes a great deal of dialogue, and oftentimes the dialogue is the bulk of a scene. He incorporates the back-and-forth exchanges between the individuals into his article. One example of this is the lengthy conversation between Hemingway, his friend guy, and a lady in the restaurant (“Italy” 2). Occasionally paragraphs and descriptions will break up these conversations, but the dialogue conveys the majority of the information.

Contrastingly, Hemingway utilizes very little dialogue in his 1938 article. In fact, in the entire article – which is roughly equivalent in length to “Italy, 1927” – he only inserts three  sections of dialogue. Two of the uses are just one line quotes, and the only back-and-forth exchange simply includes a question, an answer, and a reply (“Spain” 2). As his style evolved, he clearly moved away from dialogue and relied much more on description.

the new republic

Fig. 4: A photo of a cover of The New Republic, the magazine that published “Italy, 1927” and “Hemingway Reports Spain” by Ernest Hemingway.

Additionally, Hemingway began to incorporate the element of second person in “Hemingway Reports Spain,” which was not present at all in “Italy, 1927” (see fig. 4). This usage reflects the increased complexity of his word choice and structure as he evolved. In one passage in the 1938 article, he writes, “They say you never hear the one that hits you. That’s true of bullets, because, if you hear them, they are already past” (2).

Hemingway made a conscious effort to move away from the short, simplistic style of the cable lingo to a much longer, more descriptive style. This shift is extremely evident when comparing the articles “Italy, 1927” and “Hemingway Reports Spain.”






About khmcdu11

Hello! My name is Kara McDuffee I am currently a junior at St. Lawrence University. I'm double majoring in English Creative Writing and PCA, with a focus in Communications and Rhetoric Studies. Over my time here at SLU, I've taken a variety of writing classes and loved them all. So far, Creative Non-fiction has been my personal favorite, which is why I'm excited to be taking this Literary Journalism class. I also participate in a handful of other clubs and activities on campus, including the Women's Basketball team, Dance Ensemble, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and the Liberty Partnership Program.
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