“How Did You Go Bankrupt?” “Two Ways. Gradually and Then Suddenly.”

Creator: Ernest Hemingway, U.S. author, winner of Nobel Prize in Literature

Context: The character Mike Campbell in the 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” was asked about his money troubles and responded with a vivid description embracing self-contradiction: 1

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

“What brought it on?”

“Friends,” said Mike. “I had a lot of friends. False friends. Then I had creditors, too. Probably had more creditors than anybody in England.”

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Acknowledgement: Thanks to David Orlo who asked about this quotation.


  1. 1954 (1926 Copyright), The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Book II, Chapter 13, Quote Page 136, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. (Verified with scans)