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The Old Man and the Sea (Vintage Classics)…

The Old Man and the Sea (Vintage Classics) (original 1952; edition 1999)

by Ernest Hemingway

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Title:The Old Man and the Sea (Vintage Classics)
Authors:Ernest Hemingway
Info:Vintage Classics (1999), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 112 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

1950s (11)

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Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
This is a biased review. It contains spoilers, in memoriam sentimentality, and personal quips. Beware.

Here's the deal: I'm fixing to be 27 in a little over a month. So I'm feeling pretty sentimental. Add in the *BOOM* of Father's Day coming and passing and the little bit of grief that starts pouring over the sides of the cup because of it and any father-ish Old Man deal is probably going to pluck at my nerves a bit. My dad died when I was seven. Unfortunately grief doesn't come and go in as much finality as the ones we grieve. It sticks with and shapes you a little here and there. That's not a bad thing though it can certainly feel like it. It brings tears but it can also bring self-reflection, wisdom, and a wealth of compassion. Consider this the silver lining look of things from someone who also knows what shit it is to lose someone so vital. You get good things you might never have experienced but you also get the anger, confusion, and emotional distortion that plays loud and heavy in a lot of different areas at different times in your life.

Don't worry, this is leading somewhere.

I was lucky. I had a good dad for seven years. He was a mixed bag guy doing the best he could in his nerdy, pocket-protector-wearing way. He had a strong sense of character and he believed in things like spending time with your kid, cooking for your family as an expression of love, that you work hard no matter what, you take care of family (no matter what), and that Indiana Jones is and always will be a total badass. Oh, and that dry alphabits cereal with the rainbow marshmallows is the best movie night food and fierros are the best cars even if they keep catching on fire and you end up having to get a tow home on a late night Krystals run in your ratty scrub pants that you insist on never throwing out (because no one's ever going to see them, right?). He sang Amazing Grace in church and made his little girl believe it really did exist out there in the world.

It's this man that I remember at Father's Day and this man that gave me the wisdom to fall in love with books. It was also this man's few possessions I was going through a few days ago while searching for my parent's wedding album for my mom. Amongst the old bomber jacket, a red telescope, old chess set, and other memorable odds and ends sat The Old Man and the Sea. Surprisingly not noticed prior to this which is a bit odd to me to say the least. My dad was enamoured with books and learning but most of his books sat on my shelves long after he died, wrapping me up in comfortable and familiar prose whenever I needed them to. This book, however, was mixed up in Scientific American mags and old almanacs.

I pulled it out and figured it might be interesting to see why this particular book was liked by him so much that the dog-eared pages were clearly visible after all this time. (Not to mention I needed a book with an "O" for a reading challenge, fortuitous no?) It was pretty easy to get the picture within the first few pages.

You're introduced to a wise old man whose luck has fallen flat. However, he has a wealth of character and strength despite this fact and he happens to be respected and loved for it by a young boy that looks up to him and by the community he inhabits. It's this character that prompts his will to work hard, to do things the right way, to have respect and love for what he does and the scheme of his life that consists of religion, cultural belief, identifying with animals (even the ones he survives on) and seeing them as lives that should be respected and honored, and a personal reserve that he's more in tune with than most people seem to be. Even though he has this wisdom and reserve, he's also human in his stubbornness and his fight with his catch and the sad denouement that results because of his fallacy, pride, and said stubbornness.

I was lucky. I caught a glimpse of my dad in this book. A glimpse that showed me why he was probably moved by this book in particular or by Hemingway in general. Why it would appeal to his sense of rightness in the world, his character and wealth of humility and strength. Even his stubbornness.

It's sappy and sentimental but it's human. And while the fish may just be a fish and my dad was certainly just my dad- I'm happy in my human sentimentality and happy in experiencing this book.
( )
  lamotamant | Jun 23, 2016 |
Absolutely wonderful!

A simple story about an old man, but the way he speaks about his fish and the sadness he feels when the fish is destroyed is sad and beautiful.. Who is dragging who to the shore? What a beautiful book about honor and respect for life.
  bartt95 | Jun 22, 2016 |
  JulsLane | Jun 15, 2016 |
Another case of re-using ISBNs. My edition is much classier than the one shown, with perfect woodcut illustrations by C.F. Tunnicliffe and Raymond Sheppard.

I decided to reread this after enjoying [b:The Young Man and the Sea|72327|The Young Man and the Sea (After Words)|Rodman Philbrick|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1170810802s/72327.jpg|1596074] by [a:Rodman Philbrick|5817|Rodman Philbrick|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1309170715p2/5817.jpg]. Those readers who are too young or inexperienced to 'get' Hemingway would do well to read that first.

This time that I read the original, I appreciated not so much the themes of courage and what it means to be a man and a hero, or the themes of nobility and whether it was right to kill the fish, whether the people who would eat it were worthy. This time I appreciated the themes of Santiago's relationships with his idea of DiMaggio, with his hand, with the tuna, with his mind, with the sharks, with his hunger, with the sea, with pain. Hemingway has real respect for the intelligence and insights of this old man - he knows that Santiago is neither ignorant, nor a noble savage, but simply a brave man. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
'But man is not made for defeat,' he said. 'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.'" (pg. 80).

Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of Santiago, a luckless old Cuban fisherman who has gone eighty-four days without a catch. He decides to travel far out to sea to try to change his luck, and hooks an eighteen-foot, 1,500-pound marlin fish. What follows is the indomitable struggle of one man over a period of a few days as he wrestles with the fish to try to subdue it and bring it back to harbour.

As my brief synopsis suggests, it is not the most exhilarating premise. I have no interest in fishing, and many of the references went over my head (gunwale, skiff, leader, tiller, etc.). I even had to look up 'marlin' to confirm the mental picture I had of it (I was correct, but had been far from sure). But Hemingway writes (as always) with a deceptively simple beauty, well enough to sustain my interest for the book's 99 pages. Where the story grabs is in its underlying themes. It is, in essence, an allegory of man's struggle against nature. This is, of course, manifested most directly in his struggles with the big fish, but also against the elements (as a fisherman, Santiago must use the weather to guide his course and manipulate his craft) and his own natural body (fighting against his fatigue, hunger, self-doubt and also pain as the taut fishing line cuts his skin. His weaker left hand is also described as a 'traitor' that 'betrays' him). Despite the title - and the cover (my Arrow Books edition shows a raging sea) - the one natural element that he does not battle is the ocean itself, which is calm throughout.

In showing the old fisherman's struggle with nature, Hemingway also shows how man is one with the natural world. The old man feels a kinship with the marlin (referring to it as a 'brother') and praises its magnificence and strength. "Man is not much beside the great birds and beasts," he muses on page 51. But just as there is prey, there must also be predators. Santiago muses on whether it is a sin to kill such a magnificent creature, and when it is finally subdued, the old man's 'prize' is cruelly snatched from him by relentless waves of sharks. Even though Santiago recognises the inevitable outcome of the shark attacks, he still fights back. When his harpoon is lost, he lashes his knife to an oar. When the knife snaps as it is embedded in a shark, he rips the tiller from the steering rudder. Shorn of all his weapons and weary to the point of collapse, he clubs the sharks with a broken oar, even though he knows this will not kill any of the blood-frenzied predators. To my mind, Hemingway does this to remind us that life is a violent struggle in which creatures, whether men, marlin or sharks, must do battle with one another. This is evident when a small bird comes to rest on Santiago's boat. Knowing that hawks will soon be hunting it, he invites the bird to rest but that it must eventually go and "take your chance like any man or bird or fish." (pg. 40). Hemingway alludes to a sort of primitive chivalry in this eternal struggle. He honours his opponent (the marlin) and, like two enemy soldiers clashing in an anti-war novel, regrets that they must come together to do battle. He does not celebrate his victory, conceding that, with his guile and with his hooks and baits, "I am only better than him through trickery and he meant me no harm." (pg. 76). With the sharks, he fights against the hopeless odds and, upon returning to harbour, bears his loss stoically and rests.

To return to the quotation at the start of this review, the old man could be destroyed but not defeated. Defeat is a man-made concept; it is alien to the natural chivalric order of things. The marlin did not give up; it endured to the end of its natural limits. The old man did not surrender the fish to the sharks; he fought back, even when it was futile. Rather, both were destroyed: the marlin by the old man, and the old man by the sharks. Upon returning to harbour, Santiago dreams of the lions, as he did before, showing that even as his efforts have been destroyed and made irrelevant by the sharks, he has not been defeated. Arguably, merely catching the fish was a victory in itself, as the old man had proved to the other fishermen that he was still capable of doing so despite his 84-day streak. Had the story not ended with his return to the harbour, one could imagine Santiago setting out again as soon as he had recuperated, and casting his line out into the depths. Hemingway even hints at this when Santiago bemoans his lack of preparedness, particularly on page 85, and resolves to rectify this for the next trip. Perhaps the eternal struggle is not futile; on page 57, Santiago is thankful that man is not cursed to hunt and try to kill the stars, or the sun and the moon. Like the fish, these are natural things. But fish, at least, can be caught and subdued, and defeat on one day could be victory on another (whilst wishing he had not encountered the marlin only to have it snatched from him, the old man notes: "But who knows? It might have turned out well." (pg. 86)). Trying to subdue the stars would be futile but, against the denizens of the ocean, man can fulfil his compulsion to do battle with nature and still have his small victories from time to time.

This, at least, is my humble interpretation of the story. Even if others do not agree with my perspective, it shows how remarkable The Old Man and the Sea is, that Hemingway can present, in less than 100 pages, a thematic story of as great a depth as the ocean in which it takes place." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
The Old Man and the Sea has almost none of the old Hemingway truculence, the hard-guy sentimentality that sometimes gives even his most devoted admirers twinges of discomfort. As a story, it is clean and straight. Those who admire craftsmanship will be right in calling it a masterpiece... it is a poem of action, praising a brave man, a magnificent fish and the sea, with perhaps a new underlying reverence for the Creator of such wonders.
added by jjlong | editTime (Sep 8, 1952)
It is a tale superbly told and in the telling Ernest Hemingway uses all the craft his hard, disciplined trying over so many years has given him.
Within the sharp restrictions imposed by the very nature of his story Mr. Hemingway has written with sure skill. Here is the master technician once more at the top of his form, doing superbly what he can do better than anyone else.

» Add other authors (61 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ernest Hemingwayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heston, CharltonReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marantonio, UgoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moehlenkamp, KevinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petrov, AlexandreCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pivano, FernandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sickles, NoëlIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veegens-Latorf, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werumeus Buning, J.W.F.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Charlie Scribner and to Max Perkins
First words
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

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Book description
Leather Bound, Collector's Edition
Audio Tape
Haiku summary
Old man goes fishing
Out for many days and nights
Returns with nothing


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684801221, Paperback)

Here, for a change, is a fish tale that actually does honor to the author. In fact The Old Man and the Sea revived Ernest Hemingway's career, which was foundering under the weight of such postwar 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 favorite 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:02 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Hemingway's triumphant yet tragic story of an old Cuban fisherman and his relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream combines the simplicity of a fable, the significance of a parable, and the drama of an epic.

(summary from another edition)

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