Hemingway v. Faulkner

Hemingway and Faulkner are two very distinct writers, authors of American literature profound in our era. Their grammar and writing styles vary greatly through unique differences in sentence lengths and tone, differentiating their methods for spreading messages. However, their own distinct styles are brought together by their vivid, descriptive writing that has deeply affected modern literature.

Faulkner writes in an extremely descriptive manner, describing both the essential and nonessential. His choices in wording attempts to express in the most vivid detail possible, the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and senses that flow through his mind. Although his style of writing is extremely descriptive and presses a vivid image in the reader’s mind, Faulkner uses far too many words per sentence, making the reader quickly and easily tired of the composition. Soon enough, carrying the weight of reading the composition becomes a burden to the reader, as opposed to being a joy.

Hemingway, in contrast, writes in a far clearer and more concise manner, alternating between long and descriptive sentences, to short, brief, and powerful ones that show the reader the facts. This effect produces a variance to Hemingway’s composition, creating a much more hospitable environment for the reader to delve in. This is in stark contrast to Faulkner’s protracted sentence structure. However, Hemingway still achieves the high level of detail that Faulkner does, albeit in his own unique fashion. Rather than cramming each and every sentence with as much description as possible, Hemingway splits the facts and settings up into many smaller sentences that introduce the subject, which is later described by the longer sentences. This produces a much higher degree of variety, letting the reader be easily attracted to the composition, unlike Faulkner.

Another aspect of writing in which Faulkner and Hemingway differ is in the focus of the descriptions. Faulkner tends to focus a lot on the backgrounds of his settings. Rather than focusing on the subject himself, Faulkner spends most of his composition setting the stage and the settings, describing the background, setting, and tone to the utmost detail, even at the cost of character development and interaction. In contrast, Hemingway focuses a lot on character development and interaction, whilst setting the background in the beginning.

In addition, Faulkner’s style makes it extremely hard to retain a specific tone, for instance contrasting one object’s description as morbidly dark, while another just after as vividly bright. In reading certain passages, I occasionally even forgot what was occurring halfway through the first sentence (in a particular passage, over one hundred words long). In an introductory passage, he also does not explain who the character Quentin is, jumping straight to describing Miss Coldfield’s office, and explaining why it is dark. He describes wisteria vines, and the shade of Miss Coldfield’s black. In fact, the main characters, Miss Coldfield, and Quentin themselves are never described while doing their activities. The entire section is merely a description of the characters.

In all, both Faulkner and Hemingway have distinct styles of writing, neither of which is better than the other due to their unique natures. They both are extremely descriptive in their diction, but tell the story in their own unique ways.


~ by rupendajee on July 3, 2009.

2 Responses to “Hemingway v. Faulkner”

  1. and which would you pick up first for reading before turning out the lights? Me—my choice would be Faulkner…but that’s just me. You?

    • I’d go with Faulkner as well. His writing is a bit more dark and surreal than Hemingway – great for boosting up the imagination pre-dream. Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury” is a great way to get into another person’s shoes and see things a different way.

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