Pilar and Ernest Hemingway’s Prose

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  10.03.11 | 12:54 PM ET

Ernest Hemingway bought his beloved boat, Pilar, in a shipyard in Brooklyn in 1934. Could the ensuing time he spent on the boat have altered his writing style? At least one writer thinks so. Paul Hendrickson is the author of the new book, Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961.

NPR’s Rachel Martin interviewed Hendrickson and asked, “What did he [Hemingway] want from the boat?”

Hendrickson had an intriguing reply:

I think he wanted escape. I think he wanted to get away from shore. In fact, I make the case in this book that Pilar helped broaden out, so to speak, his prose line. When you say Ernest Hemingway, what do you think?  You think of these simple declarative sentences, these magical and yet very short sentences, free of the subordinate clause. What happens, Rachel, from the mid-‘30s onward, the Ernest Hemingway sentence gets longer and longer and longer. Why is this? I like to make a case that aboard Pilar, getting away from shore, getting away from the sniping critics, getting away from all the petty little literary games, he can get out there in the Gulf Stream and he can free himself in some way.

Cross-posted from JimBenning.Net.

1 Comment for Pilar and Ernest Hemingway’s Prose

PeggyCoonley/Serendipity Traveler 10.04.11 | 8:50 PM ET

Life is elemental aboard a sailing vessel.

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