Ultra Vires


Hemingway’s OCI cover letter

Tyler Henderson (3L)

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Ernest. It is a simple and strong name. Perhaps you have heard it from critics recently. Other than Charlie, who has a clear eye and understands what Scott and I are trying to do, it is best to stay away from them. They make a living using their Ivy degrees and ten dollar words to predict your failure just to gloat over it. Cats make better company. At least they are solitary, as all serious writers must be. At any rate, I’m applying for a second year summer student position.

Law is hell. You will work like a dog for no good reason. Law school is a rotten business too. It coarsens the very gentle and the optimistic. What you need, after all else has been taken from him, is a man of courage. If you do not remember these things it is because they are gone. They left each of our generation the same way. We closed our windows to the rain and the cold wind but the bad weather came one day and left its sodden leaves on the rue des Saints-Peres. Cyclists in bright blue jerseys with wiry legs peddled over them in the sad autumn light.

My qualifications include rising to confront eternity each morning. I then try to get as much of it down as I can with a few number-two pencils. It is a good day if I go through several. Have you ever wrote a true sentence? There is a beauty in it that offsets the rest of the business. We may practice but the ordeal is never smooth or well-oiled. Of course anyone can talk of this among company during the day. At night it is another thing. Give me a typewriter and a bottle of absinthe. I will make true sentences for you.

You may wish to discuss my qualifications further. Do not. It is the writer’s job to write, not talk about it.


Ernest Hemingway

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