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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.
listen to a portion of the speech recorded by Hemingway in Cuba click here.
to hear the whole thing? You can purchase the audiobook version
from our bookstore by clicking the link to the right.
Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
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,
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
Hemingway Reads Ernest Hemingway
Amazon.com 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