Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nobel Prize in Literature 1954 - Ernest Hemingway

I was putting together a humorous scene today (being a scenarist among other things), and in researching Ernest "Papa" Hemingway, I ran into his Nobel Prize speech.

I was so moved, that I thought I would post it here, as his words are rather humbling and rewarding to review. There is really nothing to add to these humbling words, so I offer them here for your consideration, and will for now, simply recede into the shadows....
As the Laureate was unable to be present at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1954, the speech was read by John C. Cabot, United States Ambassador*

«Having no facility for speech-making and no command of oratory nor any domination of rhetoric, I wish to thank the administrators of the generosity of Alfred Nobel for this Prize.

No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience.

It would be impossible for me to ask the Ambassador of my country to read a speech in which a writer said all of the things which are in his heart. 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.

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

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.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. 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.

I have spoken too long for a writer. A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it. Again I thank you.»
Hemingway could not make the banquet so his speech was read for him that night. However, he recorded it at a later time. To hear this speech, it is available from

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