Ernest Hemingway? Charles Scribner IV? Malcolm Forbes? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent U.S. writer Ernest Hemingway once described a strategy to reduce drunken boasting. The inebriated person should wait until soberness returns and then perform the foolish boastful actions. Thus, one will quickly learn to keep one’s mouth shut. Is this genuine advice from Hemingway? Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match for this tale located by QI appeared in “Forbes” magazine in September 1961. The editor Malcolm S. Forbes wrote the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1961 September 1, Forbes, Volume 88, Issue 5, Fact and Comment by Malcolm S. Forbes, Sub-section: One of Hemingway’s “Rules for Living”, Start Page 7, Quote Page 8, Forbes Inc., New York. … Continue reading
When Charles Scribner (IV) succeeded his late father as head of the country’s most venerable publishing firm in 1952, Ernest Hemingway, an old friend, wrote him a long personal letter, which concluded with a list of his “rules for life.” Among them, this one which we pass on to our readers without further comment:
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk: That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
Forbes did not explain how he learned about the content of Hemingway’s letter. Perhaps Scribner recounted the story to Forbes.
Additional strong evidence supporting the authenticity of the remark appeared in a book Scribner authored in 1990. He presented the same tale and a longer version of the quotation with the phrase “do when you were drunk”. Details are given further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1961 September 1, Forbes, Volume 88, Issue 5, Fact and Comment by Malcolm S. Forbes, Sub-section: One of Hemingway’s “Rules for Living”, Start Page 7, Quote Page 8, Forbes Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)|