Experiencing English Grammar through Hemmingway


The sales of an English-language textbook that draws from the works of acclaimed writer Ernest Hemmingway has surpassed sales expectations, with bookstore stocks swiftly running low and a reprint being ordered just days after its release in May. Hemingu’uei de manabu eibunpō (Learning English grammar through Hemmingway), was published in May 28th by Ask Publishing and was first conceived two years ago by Kurabayashi Hideo, an associate professor at Kyorin University’s Faculty of Foreign Studies. At the time, Kurabayashi expressed a desire for an English grammar book that drew from a particular series for its materials.

This series was the works of Hemmingway, a particular focus of Kurabayashi's academic research. While Hemmingway is primarily known for his novels, Kurabayashi went with six short stories. His reasoning was that their length made them appropriate teaching materials, as well as having a simple vocabulary. In addition, with Cat in the Rain being a good example, the stories are difficult to understand without carefully understanding how the characters and settings are established through the writing itself.

The book has received praise on Twitter, with many users praising the idea of spicing up the normally dry study of grammar with classical works of literature. Morita Osamu, the book’s editor, stated that “we aimed for content that high schoolers could read if they worked hard.” As for the reasoning behind its popularity, Morita theorized that “as many Japanese readers know of Hemmingway, I think many of them felt they would like to one day read the text. My hope is that this will inspire them to read high-quality English literature, and study ‘living grammar’.”