60th Anniversary of ‘The Old Man and the Sea’


60 years after Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea (1952) was published, a reader has purchased a signed first edition of the work on the Abebooks website for a cool $18,500. Originally published on September 1 in Life Magazine, a book version shortly followed on September 9, and originally cost $3. While most of the book follows the monologue of Cuban fisherman Santiago, trying to catch a marlin, the work is frequently noted as one of Hemingway’s best. It was the last book to be published in the author’s lifetime, and awarded the author the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953, a year before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This rare edition was inscribed with the words: “with very best wishes, Ernest Hemingway, Keywest/1958.”

Santiago’s struggle to catch the fish to the detriment of his own strength and endurance is told in Hemingway’s characteristic prose, and is never without pensive, colourful descriptions: “All my life the early sun has hurt my eyes, he thought. Yet they are still good. In the evening I can look straight into it without getting the blackness. It has more force in the evening too”… “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.” What this ourchase and thousands of others attests to is Hemingway’s lasting legacy, showing, as Santiago himself reflects, that a man can be destroyed but not defeated…

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