The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Ernest Hemingway

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  • Publisher: ARROW BOOKS LTD
  • Format: Paperback | 112 pages
  • Dimensions: 108mm x 174mm x 10mm | 100g
  • Publication date: 18 August 1994
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099908409
  • ISBN 13: 9780099908401
  • Sales rank: 912

Product description

Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Hemingway's magnificent fable is the story of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. It was The Old Man and the Sea that won for Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature. Here, in a perfectly crafted story, is a unique and timeless vision of the beauty and grief of man's challenge to the elements in which he lives. Not a single word is superflous in this widely admired masterpiece, which once and for all established his place as one of the giants of modern literature.

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Author information

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in Chicago in 1899 as the son of a doctor and the second of six children. After a stint as an ambulance driver at the Italian front, Hemingway came home to America in 1919, only to return to the battlefield - this time as a reporter on the Greco-Turkish war - in 1922. Resigning from journalism to focus on his writing instead, he moved to Paris where he renewed his earlier friendship with fellow American expatriates such as Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Through the years, Hemingway travelled widely and wrote avidly, becoming an internationally recognized literary master of his craft. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, following the publication of The Old Man and the Sea. He died in 1961.

Customer reviews

By Paul D 30 Jul 2013 5

It is always good reading a short story and there is nothing better than Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea. It is always easy to see why this classic won the Noble Prize for Literature as it is a simple but stunning story.

An old man's struggle with the elements out at sea to catch the marlin of his life time and the toll it would take it on him. He was seen as a "Jonah" of fishermen for the amount of time that he hadn't caught a fish. The fish that he catches drags him and the skiff out to sea for a couple of days when he finally lands the marlin he is then attacked by sharks as he brings it back to port.

This book is really a metaphor for life as it doesn't matter how old you are you always need to stick at something to succeed, never give up because something is too hard. Your knowledge can help you and use it to teach others and when others are laughing at you just smile and keep on.

By Michael McDermott 16 Mar 2010 5

An old man, a boy and a giant fish. From these humble building blocks, Hemingway has constructed a stunningly simple, concise but beautiful piece of work, and arguably his masterpiece.
The story takes place in a small Cuban fishing village in the 1950's. Santiago is an old fisherman on a cruel streak of luck - he has not landed a catch in eighty four days. The boy, who loves to fish with him, and who owes all his knowledge of the seas to the apprenticeship he served with Santiago has been forbidden by his father to fish with him anymore; the old man is cursed in the eyes of the villagers and his bad luck is contagious. He must now take to the seas alone. Although the boy can no longer fish with Santiago, he does all he can to help the old man he dearly loves; he brings the morning coffee to the old man's run-down shack, helps prepare his meals and humours him by listening intently to the old man's tales of the New York Yankees and his beloved Joe DiMaggio. On the eighty fifth day of his "drought", the old man embarks on what will be an arduous ordeal on the seas; he finally hooks one, but this is no ordinary fish - it is a giant eighteen foot-long Marlin. Thus begins an incredible struggle to land the fish which lasts for an agonising two days and two nights. It is a struggle which will not only push the old man to the very physical limits of his being but also cause him to question the nature of man's very existence with the world around him.

Out of this deceptively simple scenario, Hemingway has crafted a terse, gripping and above all, an incredibly moving novel, through his use of a very simple and direct writing style which is equally accessible to adult and child alike. The novel is quite simply littered with stunning examples of this; take for example the sense of pathos created in the brief description of the old man's boat on the first page
As the story progresses, you can almost feel the gentle ebb and flow of the writing sweeping you along like the current of the Gulf Stream waters which Santiago navigates.
It is in the description of the battle between Santiago and the Marlin, the ferocious clash of man and beast that Hemingway's stunningly direct writing prowess soars. Gradually coming to respect his foe - in spite of the great physical pain and hardship he has caused him - Santiago begins to view the Marlin with respect and admiration and even refers to him as his brother, perfectly captured in the following passage:
"You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who".
Even the smallest details - the old man trying to take a drink of water while grappling with the fish on the line - become magnified to the level of epic struggle as Santiago bravely soldiers through his ordeal; old, weakened and alone.

Written in 1951, at a point when his career had spent a decade in the doldrums, The Old Man and the Sea revived Hemingway. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and he was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature, due in no small measure to the critical success of this novel.
Sadly for Hemingway, this was not a portent for further success.
He committed suicide in 1961, apparently ravaged by years of severe alcoholism.
Rather than dwell on this unfortunate passing, I prefer to picture the author as the old man Santiago in the haunting final passage of this beautiful book, motionless and forever lost in a deep childhood reverie.

Review quote

"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

Editorial reviews

Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 for 'his powerful style-forming mastery of the art of modern narration as most lately revealed in his novel The Old Man and the Sea'. Reading his spare economic style is a tonic. This short novel tells of an old fisherman, a young boy and a big fish. The story is of a heroic duel between the old fisherman and a huge marlin way off Havana, and its subsequent destruction by sharks. Much wisdom, soul searching and inspiring prose: 'A man can be destroyed but not defeated...' A fine story displaying the dignity of the human spirit, sometimes hard to spot in real life. (Kirkus UK)