Hemingways A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea are often regarded as his best novels. These novels are known for Hemingways interesting writing style and his bright manner of narration. A Farewell to Arms is a good example of so-called crisp precise prose and is characterized by lively assertive staccato (Astro 47). His style can be described as the style of eloquent repression. His prose is simple, laconic, lean, idiomatic and sparse.
The main peculiarities in these two novels are: simplicity, the monosyllabic vocabulary, repetition, clarity and sharpness of phrases, the manner to leave the things out, and emotion. In The Old Man and The Sea and A Farewell to Arms Hemingway presents a combination of his peculiar writing techniques. The first is realistic, like in a newspaper, with simple and short sentences and short paragraphs (Nelson 52). The second technique is constant use of repetitions and emphasizing on something, until the image will become imbedded in his readers mind. This cadenced, undulating and rhythmic prose can be brightly illustrated by the following passage from A Farewell to Arms (Chapter XX): We four drove out to San Siro in an open carriage.
It was a lovely day and we drove out through the park and out along the tramway and out of town where the road was dusty. There were villas with iron fences and big overgrown gardens and ditches with water flowing and green vegetable gardens with dust on the leaves. We could look across the plain and see farmhouses and the rich green farms with their irrigation ditches and the mountains to the north. There were many carriages going into the race track and the men at the gate let us in without cards because we were in uniform. These sentences illustrate Hemingways realistic manner that gives us a strong image of realistic pictures, accompanied by repetitions and buzz words that add visual style and evoke psychological impression. For example, preposition with is used five times, and conjunction and is used ten times.
Hemingway creates a style of visual dialogue. This feature is peculiar both to The Old Man and The Sea and A Farewell to Arms and can be described as documentary approach opposed to the poetic style (Lamb 453). These novels are full of symbols and guess-work. Hemingway often compares his technique used in these novels with the principle of the iceberg. He says: There is seven-eighths of it under water for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg.
It is the part that doesn't show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story. These words find bright reflection in his novels, as they characterize his detached, exacting manner tied with symbolism and dominating overtones of mystery.