22 Essential Quotes from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

22 Essential Quotes from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

About Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. (Ernest Hemingway)

Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three nonfiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.

Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After high school, he was a reporter for a few months for The Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian Front to enlist as an ambulance driver in World War I. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929). (Ernest Hemingway)

In 1921, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of four wives. They moved to Paris where he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s’ “Lost Generation” expatriate community. Hemingway’s debut novel The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926. He divorced Richardson in 1927, and married Pauline Pfeiffer.

They divorced after he returned from the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), which he covered as a journalist and which was the basis for his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940. He and Gellhorn separated after he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II. Hemingway was present with Allied troops as a journalist at the Normandy landings and the liberation of Paris.

He maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida (in the 1930s) and in Cuba (in the 1940s and 1950s). He almost died in 1954 after plane crashes on successive days, with injuries leaving him in pain and ill health for much of the rest of his life. In 1959, he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, where, in mid-1961, he committed suicide.(Ernest Hemingway)

Early life

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, an affluent suburb just west of Chicago, to Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a physician, and Grace Hall Hemingway, a musician. His parents were well-educated and well-respected in Oak Park, a conservative community about which resident Frank Lloyd Wright said, “So many churches for so many good people to go to.” When Clarence and Grace Hemingway married in 1896, they lived with Grace’s father, Ernest Miller Hall, after whom they named their first son, the second of their six children. 

His sister Marcelline preceded him in 1898, followed by Ursula in 1902, Madelaine in 1904, Carol in 1911, and Leicester in 1915. Grace followed the Victorian convention of not differentiating children’s clothing by gender. With only a year separating the two, Ernest and Marcelline resembled one-another strongly. Grace wanted them to appear as twins, so in Ernest’s first three years she kept his hair long and dressed both children in similarly frilly feminine clothing.

Hemingway’s mother, a well-known musician in the village, taught her son to play the cello despite his refusal to learn; though later in life he admitted the music lessons contributed to his writing style, evidenced for example in the “contrapuntal structure” of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

As an adult Hemingway professed to hate his mother, although biographer Michael S. Reynolds points out that he shared similar energies and enthusiasms. Each summer the family traveled to Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan. There young Ernest joined his father and learned to hunt, fish, and camp in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan, early experiences that instilled a life-long passion for outdoor adventure and living in remote or isolated areas.

Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park from 1913 until 1917. He was a good athlete, involved with a number of sports—boxing, track and field, water polo, and football; performed in the school orchestra for two years with his sister Marcelline; and received good grades in English classes. 

During his last two years at high school he edited the Trapeze and Tabula (the school’s newspaper and yearbook), where he imitated the language of sportswriters and used the pen name Ring Lardner Jr.—a nod to Ring Lardner of the Chicago Tribune whose byline was “Line O’Type”. 

Like Mark TwainStephen CraneTheodore Dreiser, and Sinclair Lewis, Hemingway was a journalist before becoming a novelist. After leaving high school he went to work for The Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. Although he stayed there for only six months, he relied on the Star‘s style guide as a foundation for his writing: “Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative.”(Ernest Hemingway)

Cuba

In early 1939, Hemingway crossed to Cuba in his boat to live in the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana. This was the separation phase of a slow and painful split from Pauline, which began when Hemingway met Martha Gellhorn. Martha soon joined him in Cuba, and they rented “Finca Vigía” (“Lookout Farm”), a 15-acre (61,000 m2) property 15 miles (24 km) from Havana.

Pauline and the children left Hemingway that summer, after the family was reunited during a visit to Wyoming; when his divorce from Pauline was finalized, he and Martha were married on November 20, 1940, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Hemingway moved his primary summer residence to Ketchum, Idaho, just outside the newly built resort of Sun Valley, and moved his winter residence to Cuba. He had been disgusted when a Parisian friend allowed his cats to eat from the table, but he became enamored of cats in Cuba and kept dozens of them on the property. Descendants of his cats live at his Key West home.

Gellhorn inspired him to write his most famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which he began in March 1939 and finished in July 1940. It was published in October 1940. His pattern was to move around while working on a manuscript, and he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba, Wyoming, and Sun Valley. It became a Book-of-the-Month Club choice, sold half a million copies within months, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and, in the words of Meyers, “triumphantly re-established Hemingway’s literary reputation”.

In January 1941, Martha was sent to China on assignment for Collier’s magazine. Hemingway went with her, sending in dispatches for the newspaper PM, but in general he disliked China. A 2009 book suggests during that period he may have been recruited to work for Soviet intelligence agents under the name “Agent Argo”. They returned to Cuba before the declaration of war by the United States that December, when he convinced the Cuban government to help him refit the Pilar, which he intended to use to ambush German submarines off the coast of Cuba.(Ernest Hemingway)

Paris

Carlos Baker, Hemingway’s first biographer, believes that while Anderson suggested Paris because “the monetary exchange rate” made it an inexpensive place to live, more importantly it was where “the most interesting people in the world” lived. In Paris, Hemingway met American writer and art collector Gertrude Stein, Irish novelist James Joyce, American poet Ezra Pound (who “could help a young writer up the rungs of a career”) and other writers. (Ernest Hemingway)

The Hemingway of the early Paris years was a “tall, handsome, muscular, broad-shouldered, brown-eyed, rosy-cheeked, square-jawed, soft-voiced young man.” He and Hadley lived in a small walk-up at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the Latin Quarter, and he worked in a rented room in a nearby building. 

Stein, who was the bastion of modernism in Paris, became Hemingway’s mentor and godmother to his son Jack; she introduced him to the expatriate artists and writers of the Montparnasse Quarter, whom she referred to as the “Lost Generation“—a term Hemingway popularized with the publication of The Sun Also Rises. A regular at Stein’s salon, Hemingway met influential painters such as Pablo PicassoJoan Miró, and Juan Gris

He eventually withdrew from Stein’s influence, and their relationship deteriorated into a literary quarrel that spanned decades. Ezra Pound met Hemingway by chance at Sylvia Beach‘s bookshop Shakespeare and Company in 1922. The two toured Italy in 1923 and lived on the same street in 1924. They forged a strong friendship, and in Hemingway, Pound recognized and fostered a young talent. Pound introduced Hemingway to James Joyce, with whom Hemingway frequently embarked on “alcoholic sprees”. (Ernest Hemingway)

During his first 20 months in Paris, Hemingway filed 88 stories for the Toronto Star newspaper. He covered the Greco-Turkish War, where he witnessed the burning of Smyrna, and wrote travel pieces such as “Tuna Fishing in Spain” and “Trout Fishing All Across Europe: Spain Has the Best, Then Germany”. He described also the retreat of the Greek army with civilians from East Thrace.

Hemingway was devastated on learning that Hadley had lost a suitcase filled with his manuscripts at the Gare de Lyon as she was traveling to Geneva to meet him in December 1922. In the following September the couple returned to Toronto, where their son John Hadley Nicanor was born on October 10, 1923. During their absence, Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, was published.

Two of the stories it contained were all that remained after the loss of the suitcase, and the third had been written early the previous year in Italy. Within months a second volume, in our time (without capitals), was published. The small volume included six vignettes and a dozen stories Hemingway had written the previous summer during his first visit to Spain, where he discovered the thrill of the corrida. He missed Paris, considered Toronto boring, and wanted to return to the life of a writer, rather than live the life of a journalist.

Hemingway, Hadley and their son (nicknamed Bumby) returned to Paris in January 1924 and moved into a new apartment on the rue Notre-Dame des Champs. Hemingway helped Ford Madox Ford edit The Transatlantic Review, which published works by Pound, John Dos Passos, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and Stein, as well as some of Hemingway’s own early stories such as “Indian Camp“. 

When In Our Time was published in 1925, the dust jacket bore comments from Ford. “Indian Camp” received considerable praise; Ford saw it as an important early story by a young writer, and critics in the United States praised Hemingway for reinvigorating the short story genre with his crisp style and use of declarative sentences. Six months earlier, Hemingway had met F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the pair formed a friendship of “admiration and hostility”. Fitzgerald had published The Great Gatsby the same year: Hemingway read it, liked it, and decided his next work had to be a novel.

With his wife Hadley, Hemingway first visited the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain, in 1923, where he became fascinated by bullfighting. It is at this time that he began to be referred to as “Papa”, even by much older friends. Hadley would much later recall that Hemingway had his own nicknames for everyone and that he often did things for his friends; she suggested that he liked to be looked up to. She didn’t remember precisely how the nickname came into being; however, it certainly stuck. 

The Hemingways returned to Pamplona in 1924 and a third time in June 1925; that year they brought with them a group of American and British expatriates: Hemingway’s Michigan boyhood friend Bill Smith, Donald Ogden Stewart, Lady Duff Twysden (recently divorced), her lover Pat Guthrie, and Harold Loeb. A few days after the fiesta ended, on his birthday (July 21), he began to write the draft of what would become The Sun Also Rises, finishing eight weeks later.

A few months later, in December 1925, the Hemingways left to spend the winter in Schruns, Austria, where Hemingway began revising the manuscript extensively. Pauline Pfeiffer joined them in January and against Hadley’s advice, urged Hemingway to sign a contract with Scribner’s. He left Austria for a quick trip to New York to meet with the publishers, and on his return, during a stop in Paris, began an affair with Pfeiffer, before returning to Schruns to finish the revisions in March. The manuscript arrived in New York in April; he corrected the final proof in Paris in August 1926, and Scribner’s published the novel in October.

Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway in 1951 in Cuba. This novel is famous for many reasons. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953, and also led to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954.

According to others, Ernest Hemingway did more to change the style of English prose more than any other writer in the twentieth century. Through this novel, which is his last major work of fiction, he showed most of his talent along with tremendous narrative.

The Old Man and the Sea is the story about an old, experienced fisherman and his epic battle with the large marlin, the greatest catch of his life. After eighty-four days without a catch, the old man had decided to sail farther than any fisherman before, to the place where he will test his pride…

If you still have not read the novel, perhaps now is the right time to do so, until then, enjoy these 22 profound quotes.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway
  1. Now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for.(Ernest Hemingway)
Ernest Hemingway

2. Anyone can be a fisherman in May.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

3. There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

4. You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food. 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?(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

5. My big fish must be somewhere.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

6. Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

7. The hell with luck. I’ll bring the luck with me.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

8. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

9. Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her?(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

10. It is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

11. If the others heard me talking out loud they would think that I am crazy. But since I am not crazy, I do not care.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

12. No one should be alone in their old age.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

13. I hate a cramp. It is a treachery of one’s own body.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

14. Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

15. He did not say that because he knew that if you said a good thing it might not happen.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

16. I try not to borrow. First you borrow. Then you beg.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

17. A man is never lost at sea and it is a long island.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

18. Pain does not matter to a man.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

19. “Age is my alarm clock,” the old man said. “Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?” “I don’t know,” the boy said. “All I know is that young boys sleep late and hard.”(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

20. Let him think I am more man than I am and I will be so.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

21. Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man.(Ernest Hemingway)

Ernest Hemingway

22. Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.(Ernest Hemingway)

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