Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stylistic Imitations: Hemingway

Another author whose style I experimented with in my writing was Ernest Hemingway, after reading his journal/memoir Green Hills of Africa. In this book Hemingway often employs a somewhat rambling stream-of-consciousness, creating a meshing of his actions, the setting around him, and the thoughts or emotions he has to create one emotive portrait of a scene. The following passage is an example of this from page 58 of Green Hills of Africa.

So in the dark, following this ideal line, we descended into steep ravines that showed only as wooded patches until you were in them, slid down, clung to vines, stumbled and climbed and slid again, down and down, then steeply, impossibly, up, hearing the rustle of night things and the cough of a leopard hunting baboons; me scared of snakes and touching each root and branch with snake fear in the dark. To go down and up two hands-and-knee-climbing ravines and then out into the moonlight and the long, too-steep shoulder of mountain that you climbed one foot up to the other, one foot after the other, one stride at a time, leaning forward against the grade and the altitude, dead tired and gun weary, single file in the moonlight across the slope, on up and to the top where it was easy, the country spread in the moonlight, then up and down and on, through the small hills, tired but now in sight of the fires and on into camp.

Again I didn't closely imitate this particular passage, but I did try to implement some of the same stylistic methods Hemingway used in my post The Trouble With Africa, especially in the portion below:

Though the city may disguise them, the big open spaces are here as well. Drive six kilometers to the beach and you’ll find yourself on giant cliffs embedded with ancient life, coated with recent life, crawling with new life, overlooking huge untamable waves crashing in from an endless blue ocean which, far in the distance, touches an equally endless, arching blue sky. Drive an hour inland through the dry, cow-spotted fields and you’ll find yourself suddenly surrounded by a thousand shades of green, climbing over immense moss-covered boulders beside towering waterfalls, staring toward ghostly canopies floating in a near-impenetrable mist, becoming engulfed by the hums and clicks and warbles and shrieks and croaks and drips and whoops that create the symphony of the forest, feeling small and foolish standing there with your worn tackies and half-filled pack and diminishing fantasy that you could conquer all this greatness, realizing the indifferent acceptance and quiet invitation that the land offers you and losing the feeling of self-importance with which you entered the forest.
I'm not sure that the resemblance is very clear, but my stylistic inspiration for this post was definitely Hemingway. This is a style I like a lot; I have a lot of fun with long, multi-directional sentences and the liberal use of commas and semicolons. The image is part of the scene in Hogsback that I was trying to describe in this passage, photographed by Britt Smith when we were hiking there together. It's really an incredible place, which I described more in another post.

No comments:

Post a Comment