The Old Man and the Sea

Background and publication

No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in .... I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things.

Ernest Hemingway in 1954[3]

Written in 1951, and published in 1952, The Old Man and the Sea is Hemingway's final full-length work published during his lifetime. The book, dedicated to Hemingway's literary editor Maxwell Perkins,[4] was featured in Life magazine on September 1, 1952, and five million copies of the magazine were sold in two days.[5]

The Old Man and the Sea became a Book of the Month Club selection, and made Hemingway a celebrity.[6] Published in book form on September 1, 1952, the first edition print run was 50,000 copies.[7] The illustrated edition featured black and white pictures by Charles Tunnicliffe and Raymond Sheppard.[8]

In May 1953, the novel received the Pulitzer Prize[8] and was specifically cited when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.[9][10] The success of The Old Man and the Sea made Hemingway an international celebrity.[6] The Old Man and the Sea is commonly taught and continues to earn foreign royalties.[11]


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