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Below is the transcript for Hemingway's Nobel Prize acceptance speech read for him by United States Ambassador to Sweden, John C. Cabot, on December 10, 1954.  Hemingway was unable to attend the ceremony in Sweden because of serious injuries sustained in two airplane crashes in Africa during a safari, but he did record his speech for posterity.  To listen to a portion of the speech recorded by Hemingway in Cuba click here.  

Want to hear the whole thing?  You can purchase the audiobook version from our bookstore by clicking the link to the right.     

Hemingway's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech


Members of the Swedish Academy, Ladies and Gentlemen:

     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.


Ernest Hemingway Reads Ernest Hemingway

Our Price: $9.60 Audiobook Review 
"A writer must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day," says Ernest Hemingway in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Eternity Hemingway certainly has secured for himself with his internationally renowned body of work. In this collection, however, he reads some of his lesser-known pieces, including the Nobel speech, a poem, and even a work in progress, most of which were recorded in Cuba. Although his readings of his own work seem timidly rigid at times, this tape represents a rare opportunity for Hemingway fans and nonfans alike, as it is one of the only known recordings of the writer's voice. (Running time: 45 minutes, 1 cassette) --Natasha Senjanovich 




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