Ernest Hemingway Quotes

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.

A serious writer is not to be confused with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.

A writer can be compared to a well. There are as many kinds of wells as there are writers. The important thing is to have good water in the well, and it is better to take a regular amount out than to pump the well dry and wait for it to refill.

About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.

All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened.

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.

All our words from loose using have lost their edge.

All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.

All the critics who could not make their reputations by discovering you are hoping to make them by predicting hopefully your approaching impotence, failure and general drying up of natural juices.

All things truly wicked start from an innocence.

All thinking men are atheists.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.

Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel.

As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.

Being against evil doesn’t make you good.

Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.

But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.

Courage is grace under pressure.

Cowardice… is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend functioning of the imagination.

Death is like an old whore in a bar–I’ll buy her a drink but I won’t go upstairs with her.

Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.

Don’t you drink? I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does?… The only time it isn’t good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting. Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.

Every day above earth is a good day.

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.

Everybody is friends when things are bad enough.

Ezra was right half the time, and when he was wrong, he was so wrong you were never in any doubt about it.

Fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase in wealth.

For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

For a war to be just three conditions are necessary – public authority, just cause, right motive.

God knows, people who are paid to have attitudes toward things, professional critics, make me sick; camp-following eunuchs of literature.

Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.

Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age.

His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred.

How much better to die in all the happy period of undisillusioned youth, to go out in a blaze of light, than to have your body worn out and old and illusions shattered.

However you make your living is where your talent lies.

I don’t like to write like God. It is only because you never do it, though, that the critics think you can’t do it.

I know now that there is no one thing that is true – it is all true.

I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.

I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.

I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?

I never had to choose a subject – my subject rather chose me.

I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

I was as afraid as the next man in my time and maybe more so. But with the years, fear had come to be regarded as a form of stupidity to be classed with overdrafts, acquiring a venereal disease or eating candies. Fear is a child’s vice and while I loved to feel it approach, as one does with any vice, it was not for grown men and the only thing to be afraid of was the presence of true and imminent danger in a form that you should be aware of and not be a fool if you were responsible for others.

If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

If you become popular it is always because of the worst aspects of your work.

If you have a success you have it for the wrong reasons. If you become popular it is always because of the worst aspects of your work.

I’m not going to get into the ring with Tolstoy.

In Europe then we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well-being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet, but unused.

In modern war… you will die like a dog for no good reason.

It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.

It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.

It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

I’ve tried to reduce profanity but I reduced so much profanity when writing the book that I’m afraid not much could come out. Perhaps we will have to consider it simply as a profane book and hope that the next book will be less profane or perhaps more sacred.

Life isn’t hard to manage when you’ve nothing to lose.

Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.

Man is not made for defeat.

My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.

My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.

Never confuse movement with action.

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.

Never mistake motion for action.

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.

No catalogue of horrors ever kept men from war. Before the war you always think that it’s not you that dies. But you will die, brother, if you go to it long enough.

No weapon has ever settled a moral problem. It can impose a solution but it cannot guarantee it to be a just one.

No, that is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.

Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.

One battle doesn’t make a campaign but critics treat one book, good or bad, like a whole goddamn war.

One cat just leads to another.

Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.

Personal columnists are jackals and no jackal has been known to live on grass once he had learned about meat – no matter who killed the meat for him.

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

Pound’s crazy. All poets are…. They have to be.

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.

Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.

Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture.

That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best – make it all up – but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.

That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

The game of golf would lose a great deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green.

The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other.

The great artist when he comes, uses everything that has been discovered or known about his art up to that point, being able to accept or reject in a time so short it seems that the knowledge was born with him, rather than that he takes instantly what it takes the ordinary man a lifetime to know, and then the great artist goes beyond what has been done or known and makes something of his own.

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.

The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

The shortest answer is doing the thing.

The telephone and visitors are the work destroyers.

The things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist.

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.

There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.

There is no friend as loyal as a book.

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.

There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.

There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

There’s no one thing that is true. They’re all true.

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.

Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten.

To be a successful father… there’s one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.

To me heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on nine different floors.

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.

Wars are caused by undefended wealth.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

Wearing down seven number-two pencils is a good day’s work.

What is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

When I have an idea, I turn down the flame, as if it were a little alcohol stove, as low as it will go. Then it explodes and that is my idea.

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.

When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.

When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.

Why should anybody be interested in some old man who was a failure?

Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.

Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.

You can wipe out your opponents. But if you do it unjustly you become eligible for being wiped out yourself.

You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.

You know what makes a good loser? Practice.

You’re beautiful, like a May fly.