University warns students that Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea contains graphic scenes of FISHING

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University warns awake students that Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel Old Man and the Sea contains graphic scenes… of FISHING

  • History and literature students at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland have been warned that the classic novel contains ‘graphic fishing scenes’
  • Television and film adaptations of the 1952 classic have received U and PG certificates
  • University says content warnings allow students to make informed choices










It is the story of one man’s heroic struggle against the elements and often seen as a metaphor for life itself. But Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel The Old Man and the Sea is the latest victim of today’s waking standards, with students being warned that it contains “graphic fishing scenes”.

Successive television and film adaptations of the 1952 classic have been awarded U and PG certificates, suitable for children, but a content warning has been issued to history and literature students at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, a region famous for its fishing. industry.

Mary Dearborn, author of Ernest Hemingway’s A Biography, said: ‘That’s nonsense. It is beyond me to think that students could be encouraged to avoid the book.

Successive television and film adaptations of the 1952 classic have received U and PG certificates, suitable for children (Photo Ernest Hemingway (right) with Spencer Tracy (left)

“The world is a violent place and it is counterproductive to pretend otherwise. Much of the violence in history is rooted in the natural world. It is the law of nature.

Jeremy Black, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Exeter, added: “This is particularly stupid given the reliance of the Highlands and Islands economy on industries such as fishing and agriculture.

“Many great works of literature have included references to farming, fishing, whaling, or hunting. Is the university seriously suggesting that all of this literature is shrouded in caveats?

The content warning was revealed in documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday under freedom of information laws.

The novel tells the story of Santiago, an aging fisherman who catches an 18-foot marlin while sailing in his skiff off Cuba.

Unable to tie the giant fish to the back of the tiny ship or hoist it aboard, it continues to hold the line for an indefinite number of days and nights.

Despite intense physical pain, Santiago feels compassion for the captured animal. Only when the fish begins to circle his craft does he reluctantly kill it, but then he is forced to fight with it and kill several sharks intent on devouring the corpse.

The novel tells the story of Santiago, an aging fisherman who catches an 18-foot marlin while sailing in his skiff off Cuba.

The novel tells the story of Santiago, an aging fisherman who catches an 18-foot marlin while sailing in his skiff off Cuba.

Fans of the novel believe Santiago's battle with the forces of nature is a reference to Hemingway's own struggles, while others have seen the story as a metaphor for Christianity.

Fans of the novel believe Santiago’s battle with the forces of nature is a reference to Hemingway’s own struggles, while others have seen the story as a metaphor for Christianity.

Santiago berates himself for killing the marlin and tells the sharks that they killed his dreams, before finally going ashore.

Fans of the novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, believe Santiago’s battle with the forces of nature is a reference to Hemingway’s own struggles, while others have seen the story of the outpouring of blood, endurance and sacrifice as a metaphor for Christianity.

The University of the Highlands and Islands, made up of 13 research institutes and colleges, has issued content warnings for other classics.

Students studying Homer’s Iliad, written in the 8th century BC, and Beowulf, an English poem written around 1025 AD, are warned that they contain “scenes of fierce fighting closer”.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is flagged for containing “brutal murder and cruelty” and students studying Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are warned that the plays contain scenes of “stabbing, poisoning and suicide”.

A university spokesperson said, “Content warnings allow students to make informed choices.”

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