A little over a year ago I wrote about Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (here’s a link if you want a reminder) and it’s a great story. It’s a novella about an old man who is out fishing, which is slow and thoughtful until quite near the end when a bunch of sharks turn up and it gets jolly exciting.
Were those sharks a metaphor? Was he crafting an important lesson to us all about life, age, humanity?
Er, no. To quote Ernest himself:
[T]here is no other secret. There isn’t any symbolysm [sic]. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit.
Well, that’s us told.
It turns out, if you read his letters, that he’s a really down-to-earth guy, often much funnier than you’d expect from reading his novels. I am quite tempted to get that quote printed, framed, and hung over my bookshelves.
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