The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Book - 1980
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The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.
Publisher: New York : C. Scribner's Sons, [1980], c1952
ISBN: 9780684182278
Branch Call Number: PS3515.E37 O4 1980
Characteristics: 117 p., [1] leaf of plates : ill. ; 22 cm


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List - Summer Reads
Elizabeth Blake Apr 02, 2020

The sea is very much a character in this short novel, the last major work of fiction by Hemingway published during his lifetime. Considered one of his most famous works and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1954, the book tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman, who struggle... Read More »

Hemingway's tale of an aged Cuban fisherman's battle with a giant marlin, far out in the Gulf Stream. The basis for a major motion picture starring Spencer Tracy.

Hemingway's classic tale of an aged Cuban fisherman's battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. The basis for a major motion picture starring Spencer Tracy.

From the critics

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JCLCharlesH Nov 06, 2020

This meditative short story by American novelist Ernest Hemingway asks the reader to consider themes of aging, the dignity of work, and pride. Like the ocean hides many creatures, Santiago's fishing expedition contains more that can be seen at surface level.

Jul 21, 2020

The Old Man and the Sea describes the harsh and brutal elements that Santiago, a fisherman, must endure to continue doing the thing he loves the most, fishing. Santiago is an old fisherman who longs to catch a fish as he had failed to catch one for eighty-four days which results in Manolin, a young boy, to leave him for another boat per his father’s request. On the eighty-fifth day, an epic battle takes place between the old, seasoned fisherman and what would be the greatest catch of his life. Throughout the battle, Santiago’s determination and faith are put to the test.

This novel is definitely one that I enjoyed reading because of the emotional turmoil that Santiago goes through throughout the classic novella. It is a drastic change from the typical fiction novel that is common today as it tells of a one-of-a-kind relationship between a fisherman and a young boy. My main critique is the advanced comprehension that the reader must have in order to fully understand the entire plot. Because of this, I would not recommend this to the average reader, but I would definitely advise an avid reader to read the book from cover to cover.
- Age Rating: 10+

Jul 12, 2020

1954 nobel prize literature

Mar 16, 2020

I realize this book is a classic and all that jazz, but to be quite frank it was boring. I wouldn't recommend it to the average person.

Jan 21, 2020

A classic novella that tells one specific story very well. The detail is gripping and emotional. You really root for the old man and feel sympathy when he is in pain. Bittersweet and just. The ending raised the rating for me.

Jul 20, 2019

In the beginning and towards the end the unique relationship between the old man and the boy is great. But this kind of style is not for me, I find parts in the book a bit boring.

Mar 12, 2019

S, you don’t have any luck fishing for 84 days… so when you finally hook a big fish, you let it pull you three days out into the blue wilderness, though you keep getting scraped up and don’t have a lot of food and get really sore. Crazy right? I would have let go as soon as I couldn’t see my town anymore. But Santiago was desperate, or determined. But anyway, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. Don’t let its simple writing style make you think that it IS simple; it has a lot of symbolism- the most common being that Santiago is a Christ-figure: BELIEVE ME, ONE DOES NOT ACCIDENTALLY PLACE SO MANY LOGICAL SYMBOLS INTO THE SAME LITTLE BOOK!
I mean, Hemingway was contradictory. Take these examples:
“My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.” But he also says, “Write drunk; edit sober.”
“The first draft of anything is s***” “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof s*** detector.” “”There isn’t any symbolism… All the symbolism that people say is s***.” But he also says “All our words from loose usage have lost their edge.”
So, there is my argument that there IS symbolism in The Old Man and The Sea. Now, on to the analysis:

Nov 29, 2018

I read this as a child growing up in Southern California. We went deep sea fishing most weekends for albacore, swordfish, and sailfish. This may be the most powerfully moving book of the sea I’d ever read. Now, 50 years later, it’s just as moving. Read the book then watch Spencer Tracy in the movie. It’ll change your life!

Jul 30, 2018

I love this novel. Brought it with me on a fishing trip this time. There are a lot of themes in this story - aging, pride, the value of one's guile, simple pleasures, etc. But ultimately it is also about "catching the big one." Everyone who loves to fish should read this novel.

Apr 27, 2018

This is a reread. Sometimes I have to come back to the classics to not only visit old friends but to remind myself how the masters did it. What can I possibly say about this iconic novel that hasn't already been said before? It's more a short story than a novel. The protagonist is an old man and the antagonist is life itself, or the sea as its metaphor. The protagonists struggle was real, yet there was beauty in how he kept going on. It's as if his struggle with the marlin was the manifestation of his struggle with life and more widely of our own struggle with life and death.

It's hard not to think of "Moby Dick" because every tale of a guy at sea and a quest for a fish makes one think of Melville, though Melville was likely influenced by Shakespeare.

On the surface, the story is simple enough for any five year old to grasp. But beneath the surface is a protagonist raging at the abyss. Or perhaps one could say he was accepting the abyss.

The language that Hemingway uses is simple, it masterfully doesn't call attention to itself. There is something so matter of fact about the prose - just as there is about the old man. One has the feeling as one reads this tale that this is what the gods do, they watch us live our little lives with keen attention but nothing more, no rooting or lamenting, just witnessing it all.

Something about the old mans dance with the marlin and then the sharks is so primal. This is the stuff of life, as if there is an ocean all around us where things surface and we are thrown into dealing with them or succumbing to them. And to have this juxtaposed against the old man doing that for the marlin who is likely minding his own business down there as the old man is what the marlin must deal with.

There were these moments in the prose where whatever is currently happening is visited by an eloquent side street to illuminate a truth. These moments don't interrupt the narrative, they rather flow along giving the current action layers upon layers.

The story seems to end where it began. There is a sense of the days we spent with the old man as being representative of his life, the keeping on in the face of whatever life brings, the moxie to live and show up another day.

Thinking about Hemingway, there seems to have been something he saw in that life and death struggle of hunting and fishing. Putting aside my personal feelings about such things, it seems Hemingway or papa as some called him, had an affinity for the life and death struggle. It's too easy to say it was a reflection of his demons, having taken his own life. It's ironic how someone that full of life fought life so hard. It's as if he wanted to soak up every minute in case he decided tomorrow he was going to throw it all away.

The old man could be seen as a manifestation of Hemingway's battle with the will to live or die.

In the end there is something so earthly and so ethereal about this tale. It seems to break life down to its bare bones. I think all stories that pit man against nature or human nature against all of nature make naked all it is to be human. Because of that, this tale is so poignant. None of us knows what lurks beneath our next moment, what surprises it or we might hold. It's constantly astonishing how unique we all are and yet so damn the same. There is something poetic in this and damn Hemingway for not being here to tell us what it is.

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Aug 08, 2012

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siammarino Apr 24, 2016

an incredibly courageous old man hooks a swordfish while fishing alone, but must battle sharks all the way home. There is little left of the fish by the time arrives exhausted and dehydrated, but at least his young friend is there to comfort him.

FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

An old Cuban fisherman faces the battle of his life when he goes against a fantastic marlin.


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Oct 01, 2016

"'But a man is not made for defeat', he said. 'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.'"


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