The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

details
Title: The Old Man and the Sea.
Writer(s): Ernest Hemingway.
Publisher: Scribner.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: May 5th, 1995(first published September 1st, 1952).
Pages: 128.
Genre(s): Fiction, Classics.
ISBN13:  9780684801223.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

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Have you ever fought long and hard for something that you wanted deep down? To look at this object of your desire with a firm conviction that life is not worth living if you do not succeed in obtaining what should be rightfully yours? To be able to prove yourself that once you set your mind on something, there’s no coming back until it is done? After all, if it is not others who are inclined to flatter your ego, it might as well be yourself. Maybe all that is a bit too much but sometimes, a passion for something will be enough motivational drive to keep you going in the things you do. And sometimes, this very idea can be seen in a battle between man and animal. Contributing to his Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, Ernest Hemingway wrote a short tale of perseverance, determination, and pride with The Old Man and the Sea.

What is The Old Man and the Sea about? The story follows an old Cuban fisherman who goes by name of Santiago as he goes on a perilous battle with a giant marlin. Down on his luck, unable to catch any fishes for countless days, he sets off on a course into the Gulf Stream to change his fate and finally bring home a worthy catch. His encounter with his greatest adversary yet will, however, challenge him on a myriad of levels as he strives to avoid defeat against his foe. After all, it is the only one thing standing in his way from reclaiming his honour and he’s not ready to let go of it all anytime soon.

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I don’t know what I thought I was going to get picking up a book titled like this. It might have helped Ernest Hemingway revitalize his writing career and obtain a prestigious prize in the end but nothing could possibly change my mind on the tediousness of this reading experience. The novella contains the old fisherman’s arduous battle with a giant marlin; unaided and isolated in the middle of nowhere. Sharing his thoughts in an almost delirious manner as he reflects on the relation between man and fish, the story captures Santiago’s struggle to overcome the marlin’s will to survive. In his endeavour, he continuously reminds himself of the help he could’ve had from the young fisherman Manolin left at the shore, of the pain he needs to endure to capture the fish, and of his basic daily needs to eat and sleep. While the simple and raw writing style helps deliver the narrative, the development remains exhausting, to say the least.

If anything, Santiago has my respect. What he accomplishes in his trial with the Great Marlin is far more than I could ever want to endure—considering that I can’t really swim and wouldn’t want to be alone in a skiff in the great sea. He gets quite crafty at times and even goes on to be handsy with some fishes to get things done. Despite his brave and determined vision of life that depicts a very masculine understanding of pride, he proves that there are lessons far bigger than Man that can be reeled in from such a mundane adventure. It is thus possible to comprehend his actions and remind ourselves of the necessary self-inflicted hardship that we should endure if we are to feel alive and accomplished at the end of the day.

The Old Man and the Sea is a classic novella on the battle of willpower between man and fish to embrace one’s feeling of worth and pride through despair and desperation.


EXHIBITA

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Based on the novella of the same name, this 1958 movie is directed by John Sturges and stars Spencer Tracy as the Old Man.

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40 comments

  • nothing could possibly change my mind on the tediousness of this reading experience

    That basically sums up my feelings in general about Hemingway! 😀 While I think that literature should address deep issues, it also needs to be entertaining and Hemingway really bombed at that imo.

    Liked by 1 person

  • You have some interesting timing with this one, Lashaan. Earlier today I was thinking about Hemingway and whether I might have any of his works on my shelves that I’ve not read (I don’t think I do). I don’t know what promted this, but it was fascinating to then see your review. I’ve not read this work. I think all I’ve read by him was The Sun Also Rises, and though I think I enjoyed it, it was so long ago I don’t really recall much about it. I’d like to try him again, but don’t know what to choose. I suspect it won’t be The Old Man and the Sea. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great minds think alife, Sir Todd! 😀 I just know I was prompted to pick this up in March to finally get around to reading something by Hemingway after having heard so many people throughout the years claim his greatness. While this didn’t impress me at all, I’m looking to give him a second chance in the future, after a good break, to see if his work is for me or not once and for all. The Sun Also Rises was, in fact, going to be one of my top picks too hahaha Thanks for reading as always, Todd! I really appreciate the time you put into doing so and in sharing your thoughts with me. 😀

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  • Lol, I thoroughly enjoyed your review, Lashaan! Your heroic struggle to say something good about a novella that clearly bored you to tears… This review should be titled Lashaan and the Epic Struggle with Tediousness! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  • You can’t swim? And no that’s not the only thing I get from your review of course but as a “fish” myself since I was 2 years old I am always astonished LOL. Now back to your review! I have never read Hemingway but I aso think some classics appeales to people living in that era and not to us anymore. I don’t say all classics can’t be enjoyed as I truly adored Les Trois Mousquetaires and Le Comte de Monte Cristo. But for example I loathed reading François Mauriac or even Sartre. I think it maybe would have been more enjoyable if we were born and raised around these times to properly enjoy said prose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaah I definitely knew someone would make a comment on that at some point! 😛 It’s definitely funny that I can’t swim yet I live on an island!

      I definitely think that you’re right about that. While reading this one, I felt like it was reaching deep into an American psyche, especially with a little religious tone that was present in the novella. I do, however, like to read them and try and contextualize the book to the era in which it was written to better appreciate it but man, some of these classics sure struggle to make themselves pretty to the eyes of everyone! 😛

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  • Well, I’ve read it so long ago, I can’t really comment… but I’ve read a collection of his short stories more recently, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed them. I particularly remember one about pre-war Italy… there were short, precise, and quite powerful. One of many, many things I should re-read…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaaha I’m glad to see that you’ve enjoyed some his stuff recently. It gives me hope that there might be something that would be right up my alley with him. I’ll give him a second chance in the future and, hopefully, it’ll be the right one.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Brilliant review, Lashaan! I haven’t read any Hemingway but I’ve heard that some of the best quotes are from his books. Sorry to hear that you struggled with this book, it sounds quite tedious and not an easy read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Darina! I’ve heard great things about him too and that’s probably the only reason left to make me want to give him another try in the future. Maybe a full-length novel could better display his skills! 😛

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  • Ah, I am sorry you didn’t get along with this one. I actually loved it, but then again, I’ve always been fascinated about man’s fight with himself, pushing the limits, finding resources inside of yourself, etc, etc. which is what this is really about. I also love reading about extreme mountaineering and people pushing their limits in other fields. Anyway, I do see that this one is not for everyone and the amount of symbolism squeezed into the story is perhaps bordering to overkill.

    If you are interested, my review is here: https://stargazer-online.com/2019/05/22/book-review-the-old-man-and-the-sea-by-ernest-hemingway/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, I do love those kinds of stories too but I think it needs a special kind of writing style/story to make them appealing to me too. But I do like the mention of overkill which is a bit what I felt once the sharks came into play hahaha Thanks for the link to your review though! I’ll check it out as soon as I get around to my blog hopping! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I have not read this novella, but throughout your review – and especially when you mention the old man’s determination to capture that fish – I could not stop thinking about Ahab and the big whale and wondered if it was not more a matter of obsession than anything else…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review Lashaan! I usually love “boring” books, but this one certainly doesn’t appeal to me… Maybe that’s because I have no real interest in fishing and fish in general and I really wonder why someone would want to go through so much just for a fish 😂 Anyway, maybe I’ll read the book one day and love it, who knows! Thanks for sharing your tedious experience though, hopefully your next book will be more captivating!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Juliette! It’s hard to see the appeal indeed, especially after you read it, if the experience is anything like mine. I told myself that there must be some kind of symbolism in it and that it might be worth trying out but, in the end, the story wasn’t worth all the trouble. I sort of believe that there are other classics who pull it off better. If you ever give it a try, I hope you enjoy it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Hemingway is another iconic and celebrated author I’ve wanted whose works I’ve wanted to check out, but not sure where would be best to start! As a short novella, the Old Man and the Sea would seem initially be a good place to start but it sounds as though this is more of a miss than a hit. Great write-up Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is indeed an iconic and important author but I think you just have to pick wisely where you want to start with him. I’m not giving up on him just yet and I do hope the next one will prove to be much more promising. Thanks for reading, Chris!

      Liked by 1 person

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