Scotland university warns students that a Hemingway book contains ‘graphic fishing scenes’

The Old Man and the Sea Book

The fragility of today’s college student – who is tomorrow’s leader, employee or intellectual – is becoming legendary. A university in the UK is now flagging classic literature for its portrayal of sadistic violence, like … fishing.

History and Literature students at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland are actually warned that Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel The Old Man and the Sea contains “graphic fishing scenes.”

Where do university intellectuals think their sushi comes from?

Adding to the irony, the area where the university is located is heavily involved with the fishing industry.

Mary Dearborn, who wrote a biography of Hemingway, said: “This is nonsense. It blows my mind to think students might be encouraged to steer clear of the book.

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

Jeremy Black, a history professor at the University of Exeter, commented: “Many great works of literature have included references to farming, fishing, whaling, or hunting. Is the university seriously suggesting all this literature is ringed with warnings?”

The university’s warning to squeamish students was revealed in documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

The novel tells the story of an ageing fisherman who catches a huge marlin while sailing in a small boat off Cuba, and a struggle ensues. The man’s battle with the forces of nature has been seen as a reference to Hemingway’s own struggles; others have seen the story as a metaphor for Christianity.

The University of Highlands and Islands, which consists of 13 research institutions and colleges, gives content warnings for other classics. Homer’s The Iliad, written in the 8th Century BC, and Beowulf, an English poem created around 1025 AD, are said to contain “scenes of violent close combat.” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is flagged because it contains “violent murder and cruelty” and students studying Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are warned that the plays contain scenes of “stabbing, poison and suicide.”

A University spokesman said: “Content warnings enable students to make informed choices.”


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