Words Wednesday: Ernest Hemingway

Happy Words Wednesday! We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, but today we’re back with one of our favorite Ernest Hemingway quotes.

Ernest Hemingway quote graphic - quote from The Old Man and the Sea

This Ernest Hemingway quote comes from his acclaimed short novel The Old Man and the Sea.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Written in 1951 during a stay in the Bahamas, The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an aging fisherman named Santiago and his quest to break his unlucky fishing streak by catching a large marlin. Santiago fights delirium and sharks in his attempt to wrangle the large marlin and bring it home.

The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953. One year later, Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Listen to Hemingway’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

Hemingway’s life and death

The Old Man and the Sea was the last of Ernest Hemingway’s completed and published full-length works of fiction before his untimely death by suicide on July 2, 1961.

In his lifetime (and today) Hemingway remains known as much for his seemingly inflated sense of bravado as he was for his writings themselves, which often focused on themes of masculinity, war and other types of bloodshed, and wilderness and death.

As a member of the so-called Lost Generation of writers and expats in Paris, Hemingway was a close contemporary of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other acclaimed writers and artists of his day. His works reflect his own outsized lifestyle, from Parisian cafes, Spanish bullfights, and various war efforts in Europe to safaris and plane crashes in Africa. Hemingway was also a prominent big game fisher himself, an experience that undoubtedly influenced his telling of The Old Man and the Sea.

Ernest Hemingway with a marlin

Ernest Hemingway in Havana Harbor, via Wikimedia Commons

For an interesting discussion of the myth vs. the man of Hemingway and his lifelong pattern of self-destructive behaviors, check out the article “Being Ernest” by John Walsh.

Ernest Hemingway quote

“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

-Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

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