Ernest Hemingway? Bernard Berenson? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella “The Old Man and the Sea” has been exhaustively analyzed by critics and commentators. Beleaguered high school students have been coerced into composing essays about the tale. Unsurprisingly, the story has been transformed into a cornucopia for symbol generation.
Yet, Hemingway himself apparently believed that there were no symbols in his fable. He stated that “the old man is an old man”. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: In September 1952 Ernest Hemingway sent a letter to Renaissance art specialist Bernard Berenson. Hemingway commented on the lack of intentional symbolism in “The Old Man and the Sea”. The letter was reprinted in the collection “Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters 1917-1961”. The collection editor noted that the famous author used an irregular spelling for “symbolism”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1981, Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters 1917-1961, Edited by Carlos Baker, Letter To: Bernard Berenson, Letter Date: September 13, 1952, Start Page 780, Quote Page 780, Charles Scribners’ Sons, New … Continue reading
Then there is the other secret. There isn’t any symbolysm (mis-spelled). The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know. A writer should know too much.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1981, Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters 1917-1961, Edited by Carlos Baker, Letter To: Bernard Berenson, Letter Date: September 13, 1952, Start Page 780, Quote Page 780, Charles Scribners’ Sons, New York. (Verified with scans)|