I Knew It!


A few posts back, I wrote about how a high school English lit teacher turned me off Hemingway by going on and on about the symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea.  In the post, I questioned whether or not Papa had any idea his stories were so complicated.

Answer:  THEY AREN’T!

I’m reading Ernest Hemingway on Writing edited by Larry W. Phillips.  He quotes Hemingway from a letter written to Bernard Berenson in 1952:

“Then there is the other secret. There isn’t any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is the 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.”

Having learned a little bit about the man, I’m now ready to give his stories another chance. Next payday, I’m going to the bookstore to buy that nice hardcover collection of Hemingway’s best-known stories, including—you guessed it—The Old Man and the Sea.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Erik Conover
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 13:32:37

    One of my favorite novels. E Hem writes it how it is. And that’s why I love his work.



  2. kinginascendent
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 13:48:21

    Hemingway is a revelation in terms of story. Go for A Farewell To Arms its a great story.


  3. JF
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 14:28:34

    Looking for symbolism in Hemingway’s writings is the same like looking for symbolism in Chechov’s plays. Both of them wrote about real life and real feelings with great understanding.


    • MJ Belko
      Jul 23, 2014 @ 14:32:21

      I’m really looking forward to digging into Hemingway. I’m an army veteran myself (many years ago), lived in Europe for a couple of years, and I write, so I feel a certain affinity for the guy.


  4. ehbates
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 15:33:40

    I’m thoroughly convinced that a terrible high school English teacher is behind every person who hates reading. Don’t you love it when people think they know more about a book than the author does?


    • MJ Belko
      Jul 23, 2014 @ 15:38:51

      I know! This particular teacher (I remember him well) was so enthusiastic about his theories! Luckily, I had a different teacher when we covered To Kill a Mockingbird, or I might have missed one of the greatest novels ever written.


      • ehbates
        Jul 23, 2014 @ 15:44:14

        It’s so sad that such great books can be ruined by the people who are supposed to help you love them. I had the same English teacher both freshman and junior year, and after those classes I swore never to read Shakespeare again. It wasn’t until my husband made me sit and watch Kenneth Brannagh’s Hamlet that I finally appreciated the Bard.

      • MJ Belko
        Jul 23, 2014 @ 16:02:45

        Brannagh’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is not to be missed. And Henry V!

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