Friday, May 7, 2021

the last book I ever read (Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion, excerpt five)

from Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion:

So pervasive was the effect of this Hemingway diction that it became the voice not only of his admirers but even of those whose approach to the world was in no way grounded in romantic individualism. I recall being surprised, when I was teaching George Orwell in a class at Berkeley in 1975, by how much of Hemingway could be heard in his sentences. “The hills opposite us were grey and wrinkled like the skins of elephants,” Orwell had written in Homage to Catalonia in 1938. “The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white,” Hemingway had written in “Hills Like White Elephants” in 1927. “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details,” Orwell had written in “Politics and the English Language” in 1946. “I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain,” Hemingway had written in A Farewell to Arms in 1929. “There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity.”

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