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The Old Man and The Sea Paperback – May 5, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (May 5, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684801221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684801223
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (993 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442 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

Review

"It is unsurpassed in Hemingway's oeuvre. Every word tells and there is not a word too many" -- Anthony Burgess "A quite wonderful example of narrative art. The writing is as taut, and at the same time as lithe and cunningly played out, as the line on which the old man plays the fish" Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

Santiago (the old man) was a great Spanish fisherman striving on catching fish for money.
Rachel
Although it only has two main characters the characters are very well developed and vital to the true meaning of this story.
A. J. Ijaz
The simple writing style of Hemingway produces a most forceful and beautiful short story.
Mike B

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

164 of 183 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Aside from a few short stories, "The Old Man and the Sea" is the first Hemingway book that I have read. Of course, I am familiar with his persona, and the idea of the "Hemingway man," and was well aware as his stature as one of the greatest writers of modern times. But I had never read his books.

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. With "The Old Man and the Sea," it is so easy to see why Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize, and why he deserves all of his accolades. This short novel is fierce, full of vibrant energy and humanity, all the while being a slave to the realities of finite power, of the inability to struggle against something greater than yourself. Of course, this is the standard "man against nature" story, but it is told with such craft that even cliches ring true.

Santiago is a fully-realized character. His strength of will is all that holds together his failing body. The great marlin that he struggles with is like a true fish, lacking personality or anthropomorphism, but just a powerful beast that does not want to die. There is no Moby Dick animosity, and the fish is under the water for the majority of the struggle. All of it, the sharks, the flying fish, the small boat and the ocean, each is what it is, lacking metaphor and saying that life itself is enough. No need to wax poetic.

I never knew a story a little over 120 pages could pack such a punch.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I feel compelled to write a few words for Hemingway here after reading some of the negative reviews here. It seems that many of the people got bored of the book because there are no sucessive excitements throughout the story; and many just thought that this was merely one of the many books which has murmurred throughout on a boring theme---fishing.
But I think some of the commentators here have missed some important points. Firstly, Santiago is an Old Man as well as an experienced fisherman. It will be quite absurd to expect such an old experienced fisherman to become over-excited and hyper-sensitive because of some petty wounds or expected struggles with the fish. And as we all know one of the most important quality of a fisherman is to stay calm whether one has been waiting in idle for many hours or one is trying desperately to deal with a struggling fish. I think it is just unjust to expect Santiago to behave in a way that a younger college boy would do to make fun of himself and cheer up the audience in a Hollywood comedy. Anyway, you would not really expect to read some exaggerated sensational treatment of the theme by Hemingway, hear Santiago screaming because a few bloods came out of his slightly hurt right hand, or whine helplessly because the big fish was chopped off bit by bit by the sharks, would you?
Furthermore, some remarked that, despite whatever they have said negatively, they were still inspired by the theme, that if you persist on pursuing something, even if others think you are unlucky as well as incapable to achieve that, at the end of the day you will achieve that very goal.
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59 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
When Hemingway wrote THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, he was no longer the writer he had been twenty years earlier. His talent was declining, he had over the past ten years written far more bad books than good ones, and was very much the worse for wear from the hard life he had lived. But somehow, he managed at this late stage in his life to produced one final masterpiece, and one of his very finest novels.
The story is one of Hemingway's simplest. All of his books are simple on the surface. THE SUN ALSO RISES is very simply told, but it contains a wealth of psychological and interpersonal complexity beneath the simple narrative. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is truly simple, a story about a simple man, with simple ideas, with a simple life, with a simple, elemental encounter with the natural world: he catches a massive marlin that he battles unsuccessfully to bring to market. It is a tale of success in the midst of failure, of quiet stoicism and courage, and refusing to give in to the challenges the world throws at him. Most of all, it is a story about courage.
The tale that is told is so clearly told that a very young child can understand it. It is so marvelously told that an adult can marvel over it. When my daughter was six, I read this to her, and he loved it (even developing a child's fascination with Joe DiMaggio).
Although the Nobel Prize is given to a writer for his or her work as a whole, and not just one book, it may well be that without this book Hemingway would not have won the Prize. His best work had appeared in the 1920s, and much of his work of the 1930s and virtually all of his work in the 1940s had been far, far below the quality of the early short stories, A FAREWELL TO ARMS, and THE SUN ALSO RISES. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA was his great comeback, and it is quite likely that it was the book that made the difference in his being chosen as the recipient of the award.
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22 of 25 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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