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What is Hemingway trying to say in his iceberg theory?

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salty1234 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 8, 2009 at 9:28 AM via web

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What is Hemingway trying to say in his iceberg theory?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 8, 2009 at 9:48 AM (Answer #1)

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Ernest Hemingway's "Iceberg Theory" deals with the basic principle that "less is more." Instead of stating the obvious, Hemingway attempts to use dialog and subtext to convey his themes. In revision, cutting becomes more important than adding material. Needless repetition and irrelevant information should be avoided. Hemingway likens this style to an iceberg since only a fraction of it lies visible above water; the rest--the greater mass--is unseen below. A savvy reader will uncover the missing parts if the story's message is delivered in a short but succinct manner.

If a writer of a prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. The writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.  --Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

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citizen169 | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 16, 2012 at 10:16 PM (Answer #2)

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"If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing." —Ernest Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon

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