Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899 –1961) was an American author and journalist whose economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction. His life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations as well as forming the subjects of a number of his works. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature (such an award being for the recipient’s overall work as a whole, not for an individual work). Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in a plane crash that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. In 1961, suffering from medical ailments, financial worries and depression, he committed suicide.
The opening paragraph of The Old Man and the Sea:
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.