A Quick Thought on the Writer/Audience Relationship

“Then there is the other secret. There isn’t any symbolysm [sic]. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I came across this quote for the first time last night (Ernest Hemingway on Writing, 1984 by Larry W. Phillips) and it just blew my mind. I still appreciate The Old Man and the Sea as much as I did before — it remains my favorite Hemingway work — but it says something about what goes on between the writer and the reader. It is never a one-sided affair.