OWL Magazine Korea

Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”

Ernest Hemingway is a renowned writer known for employing the “hard-boiled” style. Hard-boiled writing is characterized by its concise, emotionless, and detached approach, eliminating subjectivity and expressing ideas objectively, bluntly, and simply.

This hard-boiled style is also praised in the creative theory of Stephen King, a globally acclaimed best-selling author, in his work “On Writing.” King, who has produced various works, shares insights on crafting popular writings, emphasizing the importance of simplicity. Considering this, Ernest Hemingway naturally falls into the ranks of best-selling authors, given his distinctive hard-boiled style. Indeed, Hemingway has become a globally recognized author, well-known for his unique literary approach.

“The Old Man and the Sea” is a novel that masterfully showcases Hemingway’s hard-boiled writing style. The language is straightforward and unemotional, making it accessible even in the original English text. Therefore, translating it into Korean would likely be straightforward, and the translated version would likely capture the essence of the work without losing its impact.

This concise writing style in “The Old Man and the Sea” vividly portrays the protagonist’s attitude toward the sea, an integral part of nature. In the midst of a struggle with a large fish, the old man reminisces about the past, dreams, mutters to himself, and expresses regret for being alone, wishing the boy were with him. The novel also recounts the old man’s younger years, narrating stories of wrestling challenges and dreaming about African lions during his time as a crew member on a fishing boat.

The protagonist, the old man, personifies the sea as a feminine entity. While some other fishermen in the story refer to the sea using masculine terms in Spanish, he consistently attributes a feminine gender to the sea. This choice sheds light on the protagonist’s deep respect and understanding of nature, suggesting that humans are part of nature and should live in harmony with it.

The story revolves an old fisherman, who sets out to the sea alone to catch a fish larger than his boat. Despite not catching any fish for 84 days, on the 85th day, he manages to hook a gigantic fish. The struggle between the old man and the fish lasts for over four days and nights. Ultimately, he prevails, but the victory attracts sharks due to the smell of the fish’s blood. Defending his catch against sharks costs him all his tools, leaving him vulnerable.

After numerous challenges, he finally returns to land. He rests at home, and the boy, who admires and cares for the old man, offers to accompany him on his next sea adventure. The story concludes with the promise of a future journey.

While seemingly mundane, “The Old Man and the Sea” provides much food for thought. It prompts reflection on how one should live and what attitude one should adopt toward life. Despite its brevity, the novel leaves a lasting impression and offers ample material for contemplation.

This work holds a special place in the author’s memories, as it was encountered during the final semester of the fourth year at Sungkyunkwan University, taking a course titled “Understanding Ecological Literature” under Professor Kim Won-jung. The class explored works centered around nature, and discussions often delved into related essays. Harvard University’s essay “Literature and Environment” featured Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” which led the author to revisit the novel with fresh perspectives.

Reading this novel allows one to appreciate the narrative itself and also evokes personal memories associated with the work. The act of writing about it now may become a source of reminiscence in the future, contemplating what memories will resurface upon revisiting this text.

“The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

  • Author: Ernest Hemingway
  • Publication Date: January 2, 2012
  • ISBN13: 9788937462788
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