Hemingway’s sausage grinder

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Worcestershire

Senior Member
“It is agreed by most of people I know that Conrad is a bad writer, just as it is agreed that T.S. Eliot is a good writer. If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad’s grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear, looking very annoyed at the forced return, and commence writing I would leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder.”

Hemingway on Writing

By this sausage grinder, what does Hemingway refer to between Eliot and Conrad?
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I haven't seen many sausage grinders that produce a dry powder, but I suppose it would do as a first step.

    What I don't understand is why Hemingway would want to kill Eliot in order to resurrect Conrad and make him write like Eliot. Why not just let Eliot write like Eliot?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    What I don't understand is why anyone would want to read anything ever written by Hemingway.

    (~confirmed Conrad fan of this parish :mad: )
     

    Szkot

    Senior Member
    UK English
    What I don't understand is why Hemingway would want to kill Eliot in order to resurrect Conrad and make him write like Eliot. Why not just let Eliot write like Eliot?
    I don't think he wants Conrad to write like Eliot - if pulverising Eliot was the only way to bring back Conrad, who he admired, he would willingly sacrifice Eliot. He is not suggesting that a touch of Eliot-dust would make Conrad a better writer.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I suppose it's not clear from the extract whether Hemingway, having said that "most people" would regard Conrad as a bad writer and Eliot as a good one, agrees with this judgement. He could well have the opposite view, as Szkot seems to be suggesting.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...
    What is not clear from the quotation is why, given that he doesn't like Conrad's prose, Hemmingway might wish to bring him back to life.
    Hemingway says, "It is agreed by most of people I know that Conrad is a bad writer ...". He does not include himself in that group. He is saying that he would willingly sacrifice Eliot in a magical ritual if it would bring Conrad back to life.

    I suppose it's not clear from the extract whether Hemingway, having said that "most people" would regard Conrad as a bad writer and Eliot as a good one, agrees with this judgement. ...
    I think it absolutely clear that he does not agree with "most people".
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Having the complete works of Conrad on my Kindle, I needs must agree with "most of people". But it does seem clear that Hemingway liked his writing.

    The saying "birds of a feather" might be apt here. But I've always appreciated ewie's writing style. :)
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    “It is agreed by most of people I know that Conrad is a bad writer, just as it is agreed that T.S. Eliot is a good writer. If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad’s grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear, looking very annoyed at the forced return, and commence writing I would leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder.”

    Hemingway on Writing

    By this sausage grinder, what does Hemingway refer to between Eliot and Conrad?
    My paraphrase
    "Most people agree Conrad is a bad writer and Eliot is a good writer. However if, by some magic ritual involving human sacrifice, I could grind Eliot into powder and thus bring Conrad back to life, I would do so as soon as possible."
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    The saying "birds of a feather" might be apt here. But I've always appreciated ewie's writing style. :)
    Ooh thankyou sir :)
    On the germane front, yes I agree that Hemingway seems to like the idea of murdering Eliot to resurrect Conrad ~ who was very freshly deceased (1924) at the time of Hemingway's writing (1924/25).
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Ooh thankyou sir :)
    On the germane front, yes I agree that Hemingway seems to like the idea of murdering Eliot to resurrect Conrad ~ who was very freshly deceased (1924) at the time of Hemingway's writing (1924/25).
    It's a strange comparison. Eliot, Boston Brahmin, poet/playwright in verse and literary critic, Conrad, Polish/Ukrainian aristocrat, visionary novelist, author of many nautical-adventure novels.

    I don't know why Hemingway would choose to compare them. They are pre-eminent in different fields.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    “It is agreed by most of people I know that Conrad is a bad writer, just as it is agreed that T.S. Eliot is a good writer. If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad’s grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear, looking very annoyed at the forced return, and commence writing I would leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder.”

    Hemingway on Writing

    By this sausage grinder, what does Hemingway refer to between Eliot and Conrad?
    I have read a few versions of that quote, and while your rendering of it matches one I have seen, I think it is far more understandable with a comma after "writing". It might also be better with commas on either side of "by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad’s grave", but it seems Hemingway didn't like commas:
    If I know that by doing this thing​
    [grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad’s grave]​
    something would happen,​
    [Mr. Conrad would shortly appear, looking very annoyed at the forced return, and commence writing]​
    then I would do the thing immediately​
    [leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder]​

    Personally, I find Conrad almost unreadable, though the things he found to write about are very interesting indeed. I cannot abide Eliot, on almost any level. Hemingway I rather like as a writer.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    He might have chosen Eliot simply because he was getting a lot of favorable press at the time. They lived in a media world, too, back then.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    The overall meaning does seem apparent: Hemingway would happily desecrate the corpse of the more highly reputed Eliot if it yielded more writing from the relatively less esteemed Conrad.

    Presumably Hemingway relished such sanguinary hyperbole. All I will say is that I might pick a different figure to resurrect.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I rather took this to be the point.
    Makes sense. If you try to do a deal with the Grim Reaper along the lines of "Fancy a trade? I'll give you Eliot if you give me Conrad back", he may well be open to the suggestion, but what would be in it for him if he already had Eliot?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I rather took this to be the point. :D

    Too late to spare us from Pufrock and The Waste Land, though. :(
    Why risk upsetting people who love Eliot?

    Over the years, I've occasionally been dismayed to see apparently sensible members displaying a distaste for great writers, often when it's been clear that they are revered by other people in the thread.

    I don't see the point in spoiling a good point about the issue under discussion, as here.

    I hate Vivaldi, but I know many people like him, so I usually keep my apparent philistinism under a bushel, and my aesthetic reactions aren't ever germane to the thread under discussion, as far as I can see.
     
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