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The Flight of Refugees

Hemingway, Kenya, 1953Earnest Hemingway
April 3, 1938

Barcelona—It was a lovely false spring day when we started for the front this morning. Last night, coming in to Barcelona, it had been gray, foggy, dirty and sad, but today it was bright and warm, and pink almond blossoms colored the gray hills and brightened the dusty green rows of olive trees.

Then, outside of Reus, on a straight smooth highway with olive orchards on each side, the chauffeur from the rumble seat shouted, “Planes, planes!” and, rubber screeching, we stopped the car under a tree.

 “They’re right over us,” the chauffeur said, and, as this correspondent dove head-forward into a ditch, he looked up sideways, watching a monoplane come down and wing over and then evidently decide a single car was not worth turning his eight machine guns loose on.

But, as we watched, came a sudden egg-dropping explosion of bombs, and, ahead, Reus, silhouetted against hills a half mile away, disappeared in a brick-dust-colored cloud of smoke. We made our way through the town, the main street blocked by broken houses and a smashed water main, and, stopping, tried to get a policeman to shoot a wounded horse, but the owner thought it was still possibly worth saving and we went on up toward the mountain pass that leads to the little Catalan city of Falset.

-End Except-

Hemingway once said he wrote his first draft for himself gave little to the reader. Then with each rewrite, he wrote less for himself and more for the reader, until it was all for the reader and nothing left for himself. In other words, write for the reader.

"The Flight of Refugees" is a good example of Hemingway's approach to style and thrifty prose. The emotion comes from the creative combination of simple words.


By-Line: Ernest Hemingway
Collection of News Correspondence Covering 1920 to 1959, Including
The Flight of Refugees. 

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