Ernest Hemingway Appears on Cuban TV in 1954; Talks in Spanish About Winning The Nobel Prize

Ernest Hemingway lived in Cuba much longer than he lived in Paris or Key West. From 1939 until 1960–the year before his death–he lived on a farm outside Havana, in the village of San Francisco de Paula, called Finca Vigía, or “Lookout Farm.”

It was not the most fruitful period of Hemingway’s life as a writer. His 1950 novel, Across the River and Into the Trees, was savaged by the critics, and many were beginning to think he was finished. But in 1952 Hemingway came roaring back with The Old Man and the Sea, set in Cuba, an elemental story of a lonely old fisherman’s struggle to catch a big fish and bring it back to shore through shark-infested waters. With The Old Man and the Sea, William Faulkner said, Hemingway had found God. “Time may show it to be the best single piece of any of us,” said Faulkner,” I mean his and my contemporaries.”

In 1953 the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1954 Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Fiction. Shortly afterward he was visited at the Finca Vigía by reporter Juan Manuel Martínez and a cameraman from the Cuban television network CMQ. In a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Cuban vernacular, Hemingway tells Martínez that he is overjoyed at being the first Cubano sato, or “half-breed Cuban” to receive a Nobel Prize. “The use of the adjective ‘sato’ by Ernest Hemingway shows he had a deep relationship with ordinary Cubans,” writes Guiomar Venegas Delgado in a 2009 article in enVivo, the journal of Cuban radio and television, “and that as an artist he knew to listen and assimilate their idioms and slang.”

To hear Ernest Hemingway read his 1954 Nobel Prize acceptance speech from Cuba, see our July 2011 post, “Remembering Ernest Hemingway, Fifty Years After His Death.”

Related Content:

Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction

Ernest Hemingway Reads “In Harry’s Bar in Venice”

James Joyce in Paris: “Deal With Him, Hemingway!”


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