Ernest Hemingway is the most famous American novelist I know. He appears on the on all the top ten author (English books) lists that I have ever read along with William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, JK Rowling and George Orwell.
The Old Man and the Sea is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. This book is a novella that was written by Hemingway in Cuba in 1951. The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and contributed to Hemingway receiving the Noble Prize in Literature in 1954.
The Old Man and the Sea is the story of a lengthily battle between an elderly but experienced Cuban fisherman, Santiago, and a huge marlin that takes his bait. Santiago has been on an unlucky streak with his fishing when he decides to take his skiff into the Gulf Stream. His luck appears to have changed when a massive fish takes his bait but Santiago is not able to land the fish and is pulled out to sea by the marlin. Santiago struggles to hold onto the line and his hands are badly injured in the process. The old man develops an affinity and admiration for the fish due to its tenacity and endurance.
Eventually, on the third day, the old man gets an opportunity to use his harpoon on the fish and he kills it. He manages to strap the marlin to his skiff and head home filled with anticipation for the good price he will receive for the fish and all the people it will feed. The journey how, however, is not straight forward and the outcome is not as Santiago desired or intended.
Hemingway’s writing is beautiful and the reader is completely drawn in to the battle between the man and the fish and their attempts to outdo each other and win. I found this book very emotional and have never been able to decide whether the old man was actually very unlucky or whether his spiritual journey over the period of the battle was actually good luck.
Five interesting facts about Ernest Hemingway are as follows:
- Hemingway played the cello when he was a boy at the insistence of his forceful mother;
- Hemingway and his father both committed suicide;
- Hemingway had over 200 shell fragments removed from his legs and body after being wounded during WWI;
- Hemingway was married four times and divorced three times;
- During his life, Hemingway survived exposure to anthrax, malaria, skin cancer and pneumonia. He lived through diabetes, two plane crashes, a ruptured kidney, hepatitis, a ruptured spleen, a fractured skull and a crushed vertebra.
The Hemingway quote I find the most interesting is as follows:
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
I tend to agree. Intelligent people think far to much to be truly happy.
What do you think of Hemingway’s writing?