Friday, March 04, 2016

The Dictionary Feud: Faulkner versus Hemingway

The Dictionary Feud: Faulkner versus Hemingway: Dear Quote Investigator: Two major writers of the twentieth century disagreed sharply about the type of vocabulary that was advantageous in literary works. Apparently, Faulkner said that Hemingway had “no courage” because he tightly circumscribed his word choice. Hemingway punched back by stating that he did not need “ten-dollar words”. He also said that Faulkner’s writing had deteriorated because of his dependence on alcohol. Would you please examine this altercation?

13 comments:

Walker Martin said...

I have alot of respect for both these writers but I'd give the edge to Hemingway for the style and influence. But Faulkner was great also; they are just two different excellent writers with different styles.

Bill Crider said...

Two of my favorites. I haven't read all their works, but I've sure read a lot of them.

Todd Mason said...

Sure is a black kettle, ain't it, Ernie?

Todd Mason said...

In crime fiction, it was Hammett and Chandler. In sf, Heinlein and Sturgeon. In horror and to some extent allied fantasy, Bloch and Leiber.

Bill Crider said...

Nice comparisons, Todd.

Daniel Stumpf said...

That's the wonderful thing about Literature, Art, Movies and what-have-you: The best of them are wonderful in very different --perhaps even irreconcilable -- ways.

Don Coffin said...

Hemingway claimed that SOMEONE ELSE'S writing deteriorated because of alcohol use? Pot, meet kettle.

Deb said...

I recommend Tom Dardis's THE THIRSTY MUSE: ALCOHOL AND THE AMERICAN WRITER, which focuses primarily on Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and ONeill. Dardis shows that only O'Neill (who stopped drinking in his thirties) continued to have significant, creative output into his later years. Fitzgerald was utterly destroyed physically and creatively by alcoholism in his early forties, while Faulkner and Hemingway (both alcoholics) only managed to keep producing "new" work into their later years because they both had a reserve of unpublished work from their younger days. A good book that will make you think twice about that second glass of wine.

Todd Mason said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S4jarsCG7w&feature=share

Todd Mason said...

Deb--Dadis also edited at Berkley Books, and edited the fine anthology from the fantasy-fiction magazine BEYOND...the only anthology from that source, insanely, and he didn't even put his name on the book.

Don, I agreed with you in advance, see above.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the link, Todd.

Deb said...

Todd--I did not know that about Dardis--very interesting. THE THIRSTY MUSE completely debunks the romantic myth that alcohol fuels creativity and productivity.

Todd Mason said...

One would think anyone's experience with alcohol, or heroin, would be enough, but dumb-[expletive] notions are pervasive...what alc does, apparently. is still the voices a Lot of writers hear in their minds, when they want to or not. (And, sorry for the typo on Dardis's name. That book is called simply BEYOND, btw.)

You're welcome, Bill...the only other one I've seen, with Jack Black as Beethoven, is a bit more broad, not quite as good, but worth the look.