Today in History: Ernest Hemingway Finishes Old Man and the Sea

| March 4, 2019

Book_JacketHe 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. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

March 4th, 1952 marks the date when Ernest Hemingway (b. 1899) finished his novella, The Old Man and the Sea, a work that would appear for the first time in the September 1st issue of Life Magazine (volume 33, issue 9) after 16 years of thought and effort. It was an immediate success, selling 5 million copies in just two days.

The widely travelled Hemingway lived in Key West, Florida, and in Cuba, the latter of which was the book’s inspirational setting. It tells the inspirational story of an aging and luckless Cuban fisherman, Santiago, who has gone 84 days without a take, and how he struggles to catch a giant Atlantic Blue Marlin in the Gulf Coast off the coast of Cuba. Hemingway’s masterpiece is widely interpreted as an allegorical work about the author’s writing and literary reputation; connection to religion and the natural world; and human relationships. After it was published by Scribner in 1952, Old Man and the Sea  was named a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and it and earned the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the next year. It was adapted for film, in the classic 1958 production starring Spencer Tracey, and it continues to top reading lists in the study and teaching of English.

Hemingway dedicated his 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature to the Cuban people. In all he published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two non-fiction works. The Old Man and the Sea was Hemingway’s last significant work before he committed suicide in 1961 at his home in Idaho. He endured injury as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross during World War I; service as a journalist in the Spanish Civil War; two plane crashes in Africa; several marriages; anxiety and depression; ill health; and other traumatic life experiences.

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

Tips:  20190304_ErnestHemingway

  • For educational resources, including readings, lesson plans, and book guides for Old Man and the Sea, be sure to check out Teachingbooks.net
  • See the University of Maryland’s Ernest Hemingway Collection, which contains serials, correspondence, manuscripts, scripts, proofs, and clippings, including some original correspondence to and from Hemingway. See information about the galley proofs for Old Man and the Sea
  • Other books by Ernest Hemingway held at the Gottesman Libraries; books about Hemingway; and more resources via TC SuperSearch.

Images:

  • Original Book Cover, Old Man and the Sea. Wikipedia.
  • Special Slide Courtesy of EdLab Studios.

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