The Only Thing That Counts

Hemingway and Perkins after a day of fishing

For insight into the life of Ernest Hemingway look no further than some of the great books of letters that have been published over the years. One such book, The Only Thing That Counts, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli is a window into the relationship between Hemingway and his editor Maxwell Perkins (1925-1947). The relationship between the two started in 1924 when Hemingway’s friend and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald told Perkins about a great young writer with a “brilliant future. 

“the utterly real thing in writing is the only thing that counts” – Maxwell Perkins to EH, 1935. 

Here are a few lines from Perkins to Hemingway regarding The Sun Also Rises dated May 18th 1926. “The Sun Also Rises” seems to me a most extraordinary performance. No one could conceive of a  book with more life in it. The book as a work of art seems to me astonishing, and the more so because it involves such an extraordinary range of experience and emotion, all brought together in the most skillful manner – the subtle ways of which are beautifully concealed – to form a complete design. I could not express my admiration too strongly. (note: these few sentences were taken from the start and end of the letter).

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