American Literature

Where Do You Draw Your Inspiration For Your Work?

Mark Twain: Ernest, I am glad we are having this dinner. We have so much in common and yet we have never really had a one on one conversation before (with a smile on his face).

Ernest Hemingway: That is very true. I am pleased to share this evening with you Mark. I admire your work and your contribution to American literature. In fact, I think it is taken American literature to new heights.

Mark Twain: Thank you. I appreciate your kind words Ernest. I heard about your recent sentiment that ‘all modern literature comes from Huckleberry Finn, it is the best book we have had, all American writing comes from that, there was nothing before and nothing good ever since’. I am humbled by that Ernest.

Ernest Hemingway: Well, you got it right Mark. I had to appreciate the fine classic style of writing in your novels. I must admit, you really took a liking to the typewriter and I don’t think you spend a single day without working on your typewriter. It seems like you were among the pioneer writers who appreciate that great invention.

Mark Twain: Thank you Ernest. The same can be said about you. I particularly like ‘Old Man and the Sea’. It is an interesting parable though with tragedy in it. You should have added a little laughter in it for Santiago to be happy.

Ernest Hemingway: You know my style, Mark. I am a realist who prefers to stick to the journalistic style to tell a good story.

Mark Twain: I have noticed, we have something in common too. We are into fiction and tell stories inspired by nature. We both focus on telling stories where human beings must fight nature to survive. Our underlying themes are same and the message we try to convey so strongly is common.

Ernest Hemingway: True, man must learn to survive in all circumstances. I believe in gaining honor that comes after a struggle and having pride as the source of one’s greatness and determination.

Mark Twain: I write to encourage intellectual capacity among people and encourage them to uphold their morals in their society. Kindness and compassion, I am a crusader of these two values.

Ernest Hemingway: Where do you get the theme for your work? My theme is inspired by the travelling and the people that I meet during my trips. I have been on several excursions around the world, lest I say that my thinking is only shaped by my home town experiences. If that were the case, probably, I wouldn’t have been known beyond my home town.

Mark Twain: How true Ernest, my inspiration comes from reading, nature and the love of travelling too. When you see the world, that’s when fresh ideas come and a great story is born from that experience. Writing gives a clear vision for life; give a good story with adventure and a fairly happy ending. My most successful work is that which I wrote as a travel writer than as a novelist. I decided to use that as a theme for my characters as well.

Ernest Hemingway: I tell the story with just the right number of words required to put my theme across. In writing, we should be clear, concise and to the point. Using too many words can make a writer lose his original story.

Mark Twain: When it comes to my writing Ernest, I am a realist. I think the conversations that take place among people is certainly a good way of writing a novel. There are some people who say I was too strong worded in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They say that the language used to refer to slavery is unrefined. I don’t agree with them at all. I wrote what people say openly. At the end of the day, the issue of slavery and the fight for equality had to be spoken about openly.

Ernest Hemingway: I agree with you. My style too has been called ‘forceful and plain’. I attribute this to my clear explanation of thing and events with simple sentences while at it. Writing styles do vary greatly from one writer to another depending on the message being put across.

Mark Twain: I can say the difference between the two of us, is that your work is written in simple American English, sometimes using informal words while mine is based on the original dialect writing. It is more of a direct expression of the words and sentiments of the people.

Ernest Hemingway: Nevertheless, we agree at one point. Individualism and interdependence are facts of life. To live not as the society does but by what is right according to oneself. That is what I would describe as the right living. Having a relationship with nature appreciating human companionship is typical of everyday life.

Mark Twain: Well, it is only by taking a journey that the encounters therein change one’s thinking and give an insight into what is right and wrong. I suggest that to be where you need to be, it is imperative that there has to be a change in life. Freedom will only be achieved by leaving the constricting life behind to seek the desired state of mind.

Ernest Hemingway: I come from a different time Mark, but I also advocate for courage and having a tough spirit to achieve the goal. Though our style is quite different, you were the pioneer of great literature in America. My style maybe simpler and vivid but yours was original and the beginning of fiction.

Mark Twain: Indeed, we come from different times Ernest, narrative journalism never existed during my time. You tell a story as it was, intriguing and describing real situations as they were and that absolutely captivates the readers.

Ernest Hemingway: All said and done, every word counts to make a great book. The right words, tell the right story. I am glad to have shared this dinner with you. You have been my inspiration Mark.

Mark Twain: So long Ernest, hope to hear from you soon. Do me a favor, live for once and do away with the sad endings! They sadden a good story.


Education Broadcasting Corporation. “Mark Twain”. Public Broadcasting Services, 2007. Web. 28 January 2014.

FindTheData. “Classic Literature-Side by Side”. Findthebest, 2013. Web.28 January 2014’ McCoy, Sharon. “If I Hear it Again, I Swear I’ll Scream: Hemingway, Huck Finn, and Cheating”. Humor in America.Web. 28 January 2014.

Thannoon, Lujein. “The Influence of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on Ernest Hemingway’s Writing of The Old Man and the Sea.” J. Edu. Sci., Vol. (16) No. 2 (2009):1-16. Print.

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