Storiemous – 17 December 2015


“He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now, and the lions on the beach.”
I think everyone should have a few fallback authors, “default” writers to whom one can return (or escape) every now and then. One of mine is Ernest Hemingway. Every year, usually around this time, I will pick up one of his tattered paperbacks on my bookshelf and allow myself the luxury of revisiting and rediscovering.
One of Hemingway’s closest friends and later biographer, A.E.Hotchner, described a visit to the author in Cuba in the spring of 1951. Ernest came into his room late one night and handed him a clipboard. It was a manuscript with the title written in ink: The Old Man And The Sea. “Wanted you to read something,” Hemingway said. Hotchner noticed that the author seemed tentative and almost ill at ease.
“I was having one of the most overwhelming reading experiences of my life,” Hotchner later wrote in the biography Papa Hemingway. “It was… a religious poem, if absolute reverence for the Creator of such earthly wonders as the sea, a splendid fish and an old man’s courage can be accepted as religious.”
The Old Man And The Sea was the last major work Hemingway wrote. Critics, who had written him off at that stage, loved the book. Even his literary rival, William Faulkner, wrote that time might show it to be the best single piece written by any writer of their age.
The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and was cited as a reason Hemingway won the 1954 Nobel Prize.

“You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?”