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The Old Man and the Sea Paperback – August 18, 1994

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Paperback, August 18, 1994
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books (August 18, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099908409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099908401
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (667 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,314,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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

Customer Reviews

He shows great courage in the face of defeat, and with it gains a personal triumph from his loss.
Brian P. McDonnell
This is a very important part about his style of writing that i like because of the ability to read a simple plot book without fighting to keep your eyes open.
mike peterson
I loved his dedication and love for the old man, the way he cared for him and nurtured him, how he never let go or gave up.
S. Shamma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2006
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
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gene Pisasale on August 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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...
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mike Tucker ( on July 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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.
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More About the Author

Ernest Hemingway ranks as the most famous of twentieth-century American writers; like Mark Twain, Hemingway is one of those rare authors most people know about, whether they have read him or not. The difference is that Twain, with his white suit, ubiquitous cigar, and easy wit, survives in the public imagination as a basically, lovable figure, while the deeply imprinted image of Hemingway as rugged and macho has been much less universally admired, for all his fame. Hemingway has been regarded less as a writer dedicated to his craft than as a man of action who happened to be afflicted with genius. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Time magazine reported the news under Heroes rather than Books and went on to describe the author as "a globe-trotting expert on bullfights, booze, women, wars, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, and courage." Hemingway did in fact address all those subjects in his books, and he acquired his expertise through well-reported acts of participation as well as of observation; by going to all the wars of his time, hunting and fishing for great beasts, marrying four times, occasionally getting into fistfights, drinking too much, and becoming, in the end, a worldwide celebrity recognizable for his signature beard and challenging physical pursuits.

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