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The Old Man and the Sea Paperback – 18 Aug 1994

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (18 Aug. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099908409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099908401
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.7 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (428 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899. His father was a doctor and he was the second of six children. Their home was at Oak Park, a Chicago suburb.

In 1917, Hemingway joined the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. The following year, he volunteered as an ambulance driver on the Italian front, where he was badly wounded but decorated for his services. He returned to America in 1919, and married in 1921. In 1922, he reported on the Greco-Turkish war before resigning from journalism to devote himself to fiction. He settled in Paris where he renewed his earlier friendships with such fellow-American expatriates as Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Their encouragement and criticism were to play a valuable part in the formation of his style.

Hemingway's first two published works were Three Stories and Ten Poems and In Our Time but it was the satirical novel, The Torrents of Spring, that established his name more widely. His international reputation was firmly secured by his next three books; Fiesta, Men Without Women and A Farewell to Arms.

He was passionately involved with bullfighting, big-game hunting and deep-sea fishing and his writing reflected this. He visited Spain during the Civil War and described his experiences in the bestseller, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

His direct and deceptively simple style of writing spawned generations of imitators but no equals. Recognition of his position in contemporary literature came in 1954 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, following the publication of The Old Man and the Sea. He died in 1961.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Here, for a change, is a fish tale that actually does honour to the author. In fact The Old Man and the Sea revived Ernest Hemingway's career, which was foundering under the weight of such post-war stinkers as Across the River and into the Trees. It also led directly to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1954 (an award Hemingway gladly accepted, despite his earlier observation that "no son of a bitch that ever won the Nobel Prize ever wrote anything worth reading afterwards"). A half century later, it's still easy to see why. This tale of an aged Cuban fisherman going head-to-head (or hand-to-fin) with a magnificent marlin encapsulates Hemingway's favourite motifs of physical and moral challenge. Yet Santiago is too old and infirm to partake of the gun-toting machismo that disfigured much of the author's later work:

"The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords."
Hemingway's style, too, reverts to those superb snapshots of perception that won him his initial fame:
Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air.
If a younger Hemingway had written this novella, Santiago most likely would have towed the enormous fish back to port and posed for a triumphal photograph--just as the author delighted in doing, circa 1935. Instead his prize gets devoured by a school of sharks. Returning with little more than a skeleton, he takes to his bed and, in the very last line, cements his identification with his creator:
"The old man was dreaming about the lions."
Perhaps there's some allegory of art and experience floating around in there somewhere--but The Old Man and the Sea was, in any case, the last great catch of Hemingway's career. --James Marcus


"It is unsurpassed in Hemingway's oeuvre. Every word tells and there is not a word too many" (Anthony Burgess)

"The best story Hemingway has written...No page of this beautiful master-work could have been done better or differently." (Sunday Times)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CLINT McGAVIN on 10 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
There are enough good reviews here, which leaves me little to add except that this book figures in my top ten favourite reads of all time. I've read it on and off since I was twelve or thirteen (I'm now thirty-seven), and it still never fails to capture the imagination and pull you right into the story. It's a beautifully crafted masterpiece suitable for all ages. Great stuff!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Old Man and the Sea is Ernest Hemingway at his simplest, and most powerful, as a story teller. The sentences are short. The meaning is clear. The cadence of the prose advances your sense of what is happening.
An old man goes out fishing alone from Cuba and hooks the fish of a lifetime. This fish could make a lifetime of disappointments and setbacks all worth while.
After an incredible and exhausting fight, the fish is his. Now all he has to do is get it back to shore. Then the struggle really begins!
The Old Man and the Sea lets us see our own lives more clearly, by experiencing the challenge to and empathizing with the fisherman in this classic tale of man versus nature and man versus himself that explores the true nature of human nobility. What does life mean? What is striving for? From what do we gain our dignity?
Anyone who thinks that he who dies with the most toys wins will can learn a great deal from this story.
Even if the story was not so compelling and universal in its appeal and themes, the book is worth the trip just for the writing. Simple words combine into simple sentences that build into metaphors that pile on top of metaphors in order to make for a magnificent vista and experience for you. Seldom has so much complexity been portrayed with such simplicity. What's even more astonishing is how short this novella is. Amazing!
Just to let you know how much I love this book, I often use the techniques and concepts in The Old Man and the Sea in my own writing. Miscommunication is what people have the most trouble with in cooperating with each other. Any time you run into that stall, think about how Hemingway would have solved the problem. Tell a story like this one that makes the point you want to share. Then tell the story again and again.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Blackbeard on 7 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
This isn't the exact copy I have, but it is the closest so it will have to do. If you have never read anything by Hemingway, this might be the best place to start. It is short, simple, and without any of the brutality or serious depressive atmosphere of most of his other books, but it still has the same masterful prose style as everything else he wrote. This has never been one of my favourites of his, but it is wonderful to read, and I think I enjoyed it more this time than any other. Hemingway was one of the very few people in history who really knew how to write. He wrote about what he knew well, and he was able to transfer what he perceived with his keen senses onto the page in such a way that someone completely ignorant of the subject could still see and feel what he was describing. And not only could he describe things so clearly and distinctly, but also so beautifully that through his words there always flows emotion - usually melancholy in nature, it's true, but nonetheless pure, poignant emotion. Most writers would give their right arms to be able to conjure up emotion in such a deceptively simple way, but most will never be able to do it. Cormac McCarthy, I have noticed, tries to write more and more like Hemingway, and does fairly well at it, but he will never surpass the master, and most writers who admire him never even attempt to copy his style. Because what seems so simple is anything but, and another one of his many admirable qualities is that he knew what to leave out as well, which is something almost every author needs to learn better. I think most writers would think that this book needed to be longer, and would have tried to fill it out with non-essential material (more characters, side story, back story, lost love, etc.), which would have taken something away from it rather than adding to it, as he well knew. But enough gushing - simply put, if you haven't read this, you should.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By what3v3r on 7 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
My first book of Hemingway and I came in with high expectations given Hemingway's recognised literary prowess. The book did not disappoint at all. The simplicity of its writing prompts, and even forces the reader to search for the deeper hidden messaging which starts to become apparent mid-way through this gripping story about a fisherman one of his trips out at sea fishing. The powerful writing style keeps you drawing parallels with a number of life lessons. All in all - a quick read, gripping and emotive throughout, and provokes serious thought.

PS: There is also a nice essay about the book - "Confiteor Hominem: Ernest Hemingway's Religion of Man" that I recommend once you have finished reading the book and taking it in through your own lenses.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By bennyben80 on 13 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm going to keep this review directly proportional to the size of this book. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is wonderful, brilliant, moving, profound, riveting and noble. It's 100 pages of beautiful, robust writing, where every word counts.

From reading an epic like War and Peace (still ongoing) this was a revelation as an exercise in how to convey so much emotion and meaning with so very few words.

I've read it five times, and it never loses any of it's charm or magic. Hemingway has written some amazing novels; full of powerful, hardy and noble characters, but none for me come close to Santiago the fisherman and his struggle against nature in this lyrical and poetic little book.

I'll say no more. Read this book.
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