Iceberg Theory of Ernest Hemingway’s Works

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What are some stylistic innovations of the work of Ernest Hemingway, and why do they use them? Ernest Hemingway is probably known as being one of the most influential American writers from the 20th century. He’s written famous works such as the novel The Old Man and the Sea and the short story “Hills Like White Elephants”. He is known as one of the most influential American writers from the 20th century and there is a reason why, he created a style of writing that can be seen in several works of authors that have admitted in Hemingway being an influence for their works.

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During his writing career, he eventually developed a writing style that became easily recognizable to others. Not only that, but he also invented a new method of telling a story, labeling it as the Iceberg Theory.

Ernest Hemingway was born towards the end of the 19th century in the year 1899. He was born in the state of Illinois in the town of Oak Park. He is most well known for being a writer, however he has done written for other publications instead of just making his own work. His career started when he was 17 years old, when he became a writer in a newspaper office in Kansas City. He then went on to become a reporter, travelling to places like Europe to cover events like the Greek Revolution. He has written several works throughout his life, and one that most people are most likely aware of, would be his novel, The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway Biographical).

As said beforehand, Hemingway’s writing style is easily recognizable. In his work, he uses simple sentences more often than any other sentence style. Looking at his novel The Old Man and the Sea, you can see that Hemingway uses simple sentences a lot throughout it. While Hemingway is known for using simple sentences and just getting the point across, he does so in The Old Man and the Sea. The general synopsis of the film is that a man catches a giant fish after struggling for a long amount of time to do so, and once he does, he realizes it is far too big for his boat and attaches it to the side of the boat, vulnerable to attacks from sharks. Eventually all the sharks eat the meat of the fish and leave a skeleton. There are several main points that are made throughout the book and the main one that has to do with the main part of the novel is just as easy to do so. Hemingway uses simple sentences in order to make a statement on how when people become too focused on an ideal or a goal, the eventually get tunnel vision and begin to lose themselves, only to be left with the remains. While the simple sentences he uses are in an abundance, the use of the narrative along with the simple sentences help establish the style Hemingway has created.

Ernest Hemingway wrote a multitude of short stories, and in fact, began his writing career in doing so, after being a journalist for several years. His first important collection of stories was published in Paris, France in the year of 1924. While this was not his first short story collection, he published Three Stories and Ten Poems in the year 1923, it is essential to clarify this collection of short stories as this helped kickstart a multitude of projects being published.

When discussing the stylistic innovations of Ernest Hemingway, it is important to look at his Iceberg theory, otherwise known as his theory of omission, that he coined. The definition of the theory of omission “is a theory that suggests that we cannot see or detect most of a situation’s data” (Nordqvist). Basically, Hemingway believed that by only giving the read one part of a situation, while another situation is actually happening just below the surface.

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Iceberg Theory of Ernest Hemingway's Works. (2021, May 29). Retrieved from