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Old Man and the Sea by [Hemingway, Ernest]
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Old Man and the Sea Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 493 customer reviews

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From Amazon.co.uk

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

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

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10332 KB
  • Print Length: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; New Ed edition (22 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FU7V8IG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 493 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,272 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A really very good book, whether or not you wish to read into it all sorts of symbolism, religiosity sans religion per se, etc. Hemingway, and this speaking as a vegetarian, was one heck of a writer, and man, and certainly seemed to live a little. I don't rate this quite as highly as 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', but that's prob. as much to do with my own political sympathies and interest in the Spanish Civil War as it is the text.
Actually, what this reminds me of are my own cursed trips to the launderette in Drabford, W Yorks, as a much younger man. I'd fill a bin liner with dirty clothes and head off up the hill, doing my utmost to remain inconspicuous in the crepuscular light. However, it wouldn't be long before the bag began to give, and the clothes started to fall out. And it was all the worse on the return journey, the bag now in tatters, the clothes, being washed and tumble dried, seeming to have doubled in volume. The headlights of the passing rush hour traffic were like unto the eyes of so many mocking sharks, to stretch the metaphor a little too far, and I was lucky if I made it back with more than a sock!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I feel I'm missing out somewhere. This is widely acclaimed as a beautifully written masterpiece. But I did not find it so. I agree that it's a reasonably good story (but very simple, and taken from a true event, I understand), and that some of the writing conjures up images of the sea quite well. There may well be powerful allegories or metaphors buried in the tale, although I couldn't be sure (and Hemingway said otherwise - "There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man" etc. "The fish is a fish").

But I find his writing style awful. His sentences look to me as though they have been translated from another language by someone with poor, rather childlike, writing skills. I wanted to edit half his sentences - either too short, or several flat clauses joined together with many "and"s, lacking helpful punctuation, and looking like a caricature of "spare" writing. Just flat and toneless. Or, as EH might have put it: "I read the book and I found the sentences dull and I found the lack of punctuation unhelpful and I found the writing style irritating and intrusive and mannered".

I know that is heresy, and academics get paid for telling us how great his style is, but to me this "great style" is emperor's clothes. It would not be tolerated from any other writer. I've found similar problems with another couple of books of his I've read, but in this short novella he reaches a peak of affected dullness of writing. Gore Vidal referred to Hemingway's style as "careful, artful, immaculate idiocy of tone", and I agree with a quarter of that. A better view of writing, for me, comes from Elmore Leonard, who said "If it sounds like writing, I re-write it.
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