Ernest Hemingway Appears on Cuban TV in 1954; Talks 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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