"A novella by Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was instrumental in Hemingway being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. It tells of an elderly fisherman who, after 84 days going out in his skiff without a catch, and 44 without his boy assistant, who has abandoned him, hooks an enormous marlin... This story has been interpreted as an allegory of the contribution of courage and survival in the natural world."
Source: Dr Brewer. Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable. 2000.