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The Old Man and the Sea 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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (272 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,352,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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

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.

Customer Reviews

This is a classic book that if you have some down time or just enjoy reading should be read.
There are only two main characters in this story, one of which is only read of in the beginning and end of the story.
Overall, a simple short story packed full of power and meaning, through Hemingway's beautiful language.
Shugofa Gulban

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 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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8 of 8 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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Kopf 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.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Garry L. Morey on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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.
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