The Cuban origins of Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”

We will be presenting our work-in-progress titled “Misappropriation in The Old Man and the Sea” at the XVII Biennial International Hemingway Conference taking place in Oak Park, Illinois this week. (We presented a previous draft of this paper last year at Florida International University, and we are hoping to publish a revised draft in a future issue of The Hemingway Review.) Here is the abstract of our paper:

We consider whether the great writer Ernest Hemingway committed the tort of misappropriation or violated any legal rights under Cuban law when he published his masterpiece The Old Man and the Sea. In summary, Hemingway either borrowed or stole (depending on one’s perspective) the following elements of his timeless novella from three Cuban fishermen: (i) the actual story itself [from Carlos Gutierrez], (ii) the “back-story” and other biographical details of the main character of the story, Santiago [from Gregorio Fuentes] and (iii) Santiago’s ascetic persona and physical characteristics [from Anselmo Hernandez]. Although we concede that Hemingway combined these ingredients to create a new and original artistic work, the question we are considering here is whether Hemingway’s creative combination of such elements is enough to negate a legal claim under U.S. or Cuban law.



About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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