30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
While many claim that Spencer Tracy's portrayal of Santiago in the film of "The Old Man and the Sea" was the actor's finest performance, Hemingway deemed him to be totally unsuited for the role. Be that as it may, whether on film, in print or as an audio edition, the story stands as of the author's finest.
First published in a 1952 issue of Life magazine, the tale received almost immediate praise. Thus, while the author had originally intended it to be part of a larger work he then decided to publish it as a stand alone book. Some surmise that his inspiration for Santiago was Gregorio Fuentes, a Cuban fisherman hired by Hemingway to look after his boat. Others are equally adamant that Santiago represents everyman. Whatever the case, it is a rousing story undimmed by time.
Santiago, as many remember, is an unlucky fisherman - he has not had a nibble in 84 days. His luck is so poor that the parents of his young apprentice, Manolin, have forbidden the boy to accompany Santiago and instructed him to fish with someone else.
Telling Manolin that he will go farther out than he has before, where he will surely catch a fish, Santiago goes alone. He luck does indeed change and a fish takes his bait that he is sure is a marlin. An epic struggle begins.
If you have not read this Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning story , listen to it and discover wheat happens to Santiago and the enormous creature that he comes to respect enough to call "brother."
Hearing this landmark tale by Hemingway is pleasure in itself. Enjoyment is more than doubled when the narrator is acclaimed film, stage, and television actor Donald Sutherland. His voice is low, resonant; his diction distinct. He reads with sympathy and superb timing, especially when the huge fish first tugs at Santiago's line.
More than highly recommended.
- Gail Cooke
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2009
Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" was almost instantly recognized as a classic when it was published in 1952...and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature not long after its publication. Part of this was due to a near panic on the part of the Nobel Prize committee in 1953 after seeing headlines flashed around the world that Hemingway was near death from two separate plane crashes on his safari in Africa- and not wanting to fail to recognize the literary genius who had produced several memorable works. Hemingway also won the Pulitzer Prize around the same time.
"The Old Man and the Sea" shows an older, wiser Hemingway...and it was somewhat of a surprise to many people when they read it. Readers had been used to stories of barroom brawls...fistfights along the waterfront...battling determined enemies who wanted to kill him....yet this story- a novella- tells of an old fisherman who tries for many days to catch a fish to feed himself....and he has gone weeks without catching anything to bring home....The story is apocryphal and supposedly based on a true account of a Cuban fisherman (Hemingway was living in Cuba at the time) who went out to sea and finally caught a huge fish...but by the time he made it back to shore, the fish had been ravaged by sharks and nearly destroyed...The fish of the news accounts would apparently have been one of the largest sailfish on record- if it had survived intact...Hemingway was intrigued by this account and determined to make the story his own....
Hemingway allows us to see through the old man's eyes....sense his emotions...feel the pain in his hands as he tugs on the fishing line that cuts through his well-worn fingers...The old man senses a camaraderie with the huge fish he has just killed...and loves it even though he has taken its life away...Hemingway understood that fight...he had been through it many times...and survived to tell his stories...and this one allows us to sense what is within the mind of the fisherman...and in Hemingway's mind as he enters his later years....The story describes both the outer landscape of the boat on the open ocean...and the fight for the huge sailfish....but also the inner landscape within his mind...truly Hemingway's mind as he faces perhaps his last good fight....The old man knew he had one good fight left in him...so did Hemingway....they both won...as we gain insight into what it means to struggle...to fight against long odds....and succeed....only to be beaten at the last moment....
"The Old Man and the Sea" brings us a new awareness not only of age...and what it means to struggle...but also tells us that we are all in the same struggle...against the grim reaper who will come for all of us someday...and despite our efforts...will win the last fight...However, Hemingway knew that the only way to truly win in life was to create something of value...something that would stand the test of time...and he succeeded with this great work...
-by Gene Pisasale
Author of "Vineyard Days"
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 1999
10 July, 1999 A.D./2542 B.E. Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, Hemingway's greatest work, leads to a reading of THE EPISTLE OF JAMES and to the entire BIBLE. Santiago means St. James in Spanish. Remember, Hemingway had first heard the story of a fisherman's struggle for four days at sea from his good friend Carlos Guiterrez in Cuba in 1934. Hemingway waited sixteen years to write THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA in Dec., 1950-early Feb., 1951. In the years between his first knowledge of the story and his own lyrical rendering of it, Hemingway took Mass in Spanish in Cuba on far more than one occasion. Examine, for instance, the fact that all the characters in THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA are named after Catholic saints or Apostles. "La Carta de Santiago" is from the Spanish New Testament; its English translation is "The Epistle of James." Like THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, "The Epistle of James" focuses on themes of patience in the face of adversity, of enduring life's struggles for the sake of a greater good, and of gaining inner peace. Manolin, the Cuban boy's nickname, is the Spanish nickname for Manuel, a name derived from the prophecy of the Christ child Emmanuel in "The Book of Isaiah" in THE OLD TESTAMENT. Perico is the Spanish nickname for Pedro, which means Peter in English. Peter, of course, is another of Christ's apostles. Intrigues me that Santiago is the name of two vital figures in Christianity, Santiago del Zebedeo/St. James of Zebedee (whom Christ first met as a fisherman) and Christ's brother, Santiago/St. James the Martyr, who was stoned to death in Jerusalem. Martin, the owner of The Terrace bar who is generous to the impoverished Santiago, is also the name of two famous Catholic saints who were extraordiarily helpful to the poor, St. Martin of Tours of France and St. Martin de Poores. St. Martin of Poores is regarded as the patron saint of Afro-Cubans due to his incredibly generosity and sacrifice for African slaves in South America in the 1600s. And from the time he returned from Spain in 1939 to the time he wrote THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA at the Finca Vigia, Hemingway attended Spanish Mass in Cuba. Readings from "La Carta de Santiago"/"The Epistle of James" figure prominently in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar Year B, Ordinary Time(normally, in the September of every B cycle year). Santiago makes his journey for his marlin in September, "the month when the big fish come." September is hurricane season in Cuba, by the way, meaning Santiago knows he is risking his life. No, it's not too bad that this is Hemingway's shortest novel. In many ways, it is his richest and deepest work, and moreover, truest to his aesthetic. Five stars are not enough! Rock hard and ride free, Cool Papa H.! Hemingway evidences an incredible understanding of Cuban culture in THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA as he tells a story of one man's struggle to carry his dream at high sea in the face of death. Ultimately, his journey is spiritual at its core: Santiago's ability to accept the butchering of the marlin by the sharks, and his resolution at the end to continue going out to sea, teach us volumes on how to carry our own dreams in the seas we sail in our time. Santiago's story is timeless as love and endures with all the grace of every wave hitting all the shores of all the beaches of all the world. Reviewer: Mike Tucker
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
call me a throwback, but this slender novel contains more wisdom than entire libraries of self-help books. hemingway tells the story of an old cuban fisherman on his most memorable trip with characteristic simplicity. the man's respect for the fish, courage and inner battle are a fitting finale to hemingway's career. there is more here about character and what life is about than a thousand self-help books.
i listened to the audio version and donald sutherland's performance is the best reading i've heard.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2004
This book is a triumph of the bare necessities. The old man goes far out to sea in a flimsy wooden boat, fishing with only a hook, line and bait. Alone, he manages to catch a thousand-pound, eighteen-foot marlin. A life and death struggle ensues as the old man works the fish for days trying to bring it in, but his struggle has only begun as he has to battle the sharks in order to keep his prize.
Like the old man in his story, Hemingway uses only the bare necessities. This is a textbook example of how to write a short story--not one wasted word. The conflict of man versus nature is a timeless one, but Hemingway's is a classic because he does so much with so little.
Could a story like this one be written today? And if it were, would any publishing house print it? What--no sex, no violence, no angry young men showing how tough they are by threatening and swearing at one another, no liberal idealists purveying an underlying political message, no sorcerers, magic or monsters. Where's the entertainment in that?
The beauty of The Old Man and the Sea is its pure and simple realism. No fluff, no filler material, no publisher's formula fiction, just a timeless classic told by a master of the short story.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2001
I only started reading Hemingway last year, yet he's become one of my very favorite authors. In this book, "The old man and the sea", he writes about a lonely old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, that goes out fishing, desperate to catch a big fish. A fisherman's crusade for final glory.
Santiago, the fisherman, is poor and his only friend is a young boy. The young boy used to be his fishing-buddy, but as the luck left Santiago, the boy's father asked the boy to go out fishing in someone else's boat.
We enter the story as Santiago has gone 84 days fishing without catching any fish. On the 85th day, alone in the boat, he manages to hook a huge Marlin, the biggest he's ever seen. A fish that is much stronger than himself. Santiago's effort and suffering are brought to us in such a way only Hemingway could do. Hemingway uses such a simple language, yet one feels it as the richest ever. We follow Santiago's fight with the huge Merlin, and his return to town after days of fighting, catching the fish. What happens on his way home is just heartbreaking... He succeeds, but only to lose it in the end.
Hemingway writes in such a way that you feel the pain of the fisherman struggle yourself, and you can nothing do but to love the old fisherman. "The old man and the sea" is a moving story, of a man with great persistence, and with a message to never give up. Very highly recommended!
(If you like this book, I suggest you read Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" too...)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
Not only should one stay confident and determined, but they should recognize the honor in struggle, defeat, and death. This theme is beautifully illustrated throughout Ernest Hemingway's classic novel, The Old Man and the Sea. While in Cuba in 1951, Hemingway wrote the novel and it was to be the last great work of fiction he would publish in his lifetime. Apart from being regarded as one of the most famous novels of the 20th century, The Old Man and the Sea received the Pulitzer Prize Award in 1953 and contributed heavily to Hemingway winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
Clearly one of Hemingway's most prominent works, The Old Man and the Sea focuses on an aged, Cuban fisherman named Santiago, who overcomes two major conflicts both internal and tangible, while fishing far out in the Gulf Stream. From the outset of the book, Santiago has gone 84 days without catching a fish and is jeered at by society. Santiago's luck is responsible for his sobriquet, "salao," or the worst form of unlucky. In fact, Santiago's young trainee, Manolin, has even been prohibited by his parents, to fish with him and forced to work with more successful fishermen. However, Manolin continues to display his loyalty to Santiago by visiting him every night, and one night Santiago says that he will venture "far out" in order to break his ominous streak. The next day, Santiago leaves, and after voyaging past what he says to be "beyond all people in the world," Santiago hooks a marlin that he struggles with for two days. While morally conversing with the fish and dodging obstacles, Santiago offers every ounce of energy and every bit of strength to catching the marlin, as he tries to end his streak, overcome his aging body, and prove his worthless to society.
His internal and tangible conflicts are his isolation and his struggle with the marlin, respectively. Similar to many other characters in Hemingway's novels, Santiago seems to be a lonely, ostracized man who is torn down by society. Not only is he laughed at by many fishermen, but he is isolated from Manolin by the parents. Although Santiago somewhat copes with the conflict with his persistent confidence, catching the marlin seems to be the only option to be accepted back into society. Thus, his struggle with the marlin presents itself as the other main conflict in the novel. Not only does the battle magnify the internal conflict, but it is also a physical war waged against his seasoned and collapsing body. Throughout the novel both conflicts are highlighted by the realities of nature and Santiago will learn the pride in being defeated both internally and externally, and the importance of confidence.
Lastly, this symbolism rich plot and these profound conflicts are condensed into a mere 127 pages. The length of this novel is indicative of Hemingway's simple yet complex writing style. Hemingway only uses a few words thus making the novel lucid and direct. Though in those few words, he still manages to verbally illustrate amazing imagery, deep symbols, and a thought-provoking plot. For example, Santiago is pondering about turtles and Hemingway writes, "Most people were heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for hours after it has been cut up and butchered. But the old man thought, I have such a heart too." In just two simple sentences, Hemingway is able to convey a major theme of the novel, thus displaying this simple yet complex style. However, compared to Hemingway's previous novels, The Old Man and the Sea is a bit of an unrealistic story which is surprising and hypocritical considering Hemingway's past works and opinions. He even despised Melville's rhetoric in Moby Dick, and then publishes this novel that, in my opinion, measures to the same fictional content. For instance, Santiago, at his old age, is able to not only endure his endeavor with the marlin but also catch a dolphin with a single hand. The Old Man and the Sea utilizes hyperbole and metaphors rather than facts and statements characteristic to Hemingway. Of course, much of this novel is centered on the theme of defeat and accomplishment with a confident soul, but many of the tasks are incredibly beyond physical ability. Certainly, this novel is well written in many respects, but a clash with Hemingway's trademarked writing style.
Despite the varied writing style, I truly enjoyed reading the straight forward and symbolic story of The Old Man and the Sea. Again, without using many words, I was engulfed in the story of this novel and it ultimately altered my thoughts and opinions on the art of defeat. While some might believe this novel to be a depressing novel, I see the finality of it and the messages conveyed are uplifting and worth reading.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2006
Reading once again 'Old Man And The Sea' by Ernest Hemingway was simply a joyful reading experience that will stay with me for a very long time. The writing is eloquent yet raw. The reader experience humble yet filled with sheer power. The connectivity is filled with singularity yet there is a sense of one with the universe.
There is of course so much that has been written and said about 'Old Man And The Sea' that I will not write a commentary about this marvelous book's movement; however, what I will say is this: there are books that are indeed worth returning to since they have a timelessness to the story, and, as the reader's own life experience grows, so too does the appreciation and understandings of the written story. In this compelling book, I have found that the meaning of this story so powerful and connected to my soul in few ways a book ever has.
Do yourself a favor, go pick up 'Old Man And The Sea' and enjoy yourself. Though you may be holding a paperbook in your hand, you may soon come to realize your actually holding a mirrow, and you're peering into your own life.
25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2001
What an incredible story. I read this in less than two hours (it is a novella) and upon completing this simple story, I had a incredibly overwhelming satisfaction toward the ferocity of the human spirit. Yes, this book is all story but the main idea is all spirit. Those that can't see the incredible battle within are not READING the story, just the words. As a simple by-product, this book led directly to Ernest Hemingway's receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1954.
This story features three main characters: the old man (Santiago), a young boy (Manolin), and the human spirit. Santiago takes on the once-in-a-lifetime catch of a prize marlin which is described and portrayed in a manner to draw out the challenge facing each individual, both physically and emotionally. Santiago hasn't had a catch in 84 days. On day 85, he decides that, no matter what, he'll not return with a catch. Indeed, that was his fate. Santiago experiences physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, and the pain of being alone with the elements. Yet, he continues on, creating hope where there is none. Before this story reaches it conclusion, getting right with life, Santiago decides it is he or the marlin.
This story is incredible. It deserves(d) all the critical acclaim received. Once again, those who didn't find this story touching their soul didn't read the story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2009
This book was one of the best books i've ever read, mostly because of how detailed and how well written it was.
Santiago is an old cuban fisherman who hasn't caught a good fish for a long time. In fact, he's so unlucky that his young friend "the boy" has to fish with luckier fisherman. But one day he decides that he will catch a HUGE fish, and he will go far out into the ocean to catch it. Little does Santiago know what he will have to go though in order to fianally capture the fish. First of all, even when the old man catches the fish it is almost impossible to bring him in and kill him. Then, there is the matter of survival and keeping the caught fish away from sharks. But Santiago does well, despite his light head and bleeding hands. the rest is for you to discover!
Again, this a beautiful book about courage and determanation and i really hope you'll read it!