The Old Man and the Sea Paperback – 22 Sep 2011
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
I read this as my book group’s choice. I doubt I would have chosen it myself. I enjoyed the way his view of the fish changed from respect, and even love (though he still wanted to kill it –something I don’t get) to wishing he hadn’t killed it, as a result of happenings on his way back to shore. I found the writing style distracting with its repetition of words in the same sentence. The book was first published in 1952 but styles change. I simply didn’t enjoy it. I see it described as a story of courage and endeavour but I wasn’t surprised to see that Hemingway was also a big fan of bullfighting and big game hunting. It’s not for me.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this book as a child and still remember the excitement of every wordPublished 22 days ago by Gill Old
Excellent book, you really get inside the head of the fishermanPublished 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
One of the best books ever written. It's just so simple yet complicated at the same time. You can almost smell the ocean and imagine the things vividly. Read morePublished 27 days ago by modular