For what academic levels are Hemingway's novels considered suitable reading?

Language Learning Asked on August 25, 2021

Note: The following is a "repost" of a question that originally appeared on Literature SE from one JohanL but was closed and deleted there. The two LL SE moderators agreed that it was more suitable for this site, but it was too old to be migrated outright. For this reason, we are re-posting it here, as community wiki.

I have never really read novels in my life and I am 26 years old. I recently graduated with Masters in Math and now, when I have spare time, I want to start reading novels. Of course there are thousands of places where I can start but I am thinking about giving Hemingway a chance. The Old Man and the Sea has caught my attention.

My native language is Swedish but I am more or less fluent in English and I want to read in English. At what ages or academic levels are American or English students assigned Hemingway novels to read, with the expectation that they will be understood?

I am wondering if Hemingway will be to difficult for me to understand fully? (I don’t remember doing anything in literature classes in High School.)

One Answer

Hemingway is included in reading lists for the AP English Literature and Composition examination, so at the very least, he is considered suitable for the literarily inclined high school student (ages 14-18). This is not enough to determine the exact grade level, because the sample list includes works that may be assigned to students in courses that precede AP English; it does however give us an upper bound, and different teachers may assign the same work to different grades anyway.

I do not think students before high school school are assigned literature of that variety. My impression is that while individual middle school students may be capable enough, the books assigned to the average class tend to be shorter and lighter (less in the sense of subject matter, and more in terms of writing style).

Answered by Maroon on August 25, 2021

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