The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Paperback, 1952

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Charles Scribner's Sons (1952), 127 pages

Description

The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal--a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature.

Media reviews

“the drone of the pastiche parable, wordy and sentimental”
3 more
The Old Man and the Sea has almost none of the old Hemingway truculence, the hard-guy sentimentality that sometimes gives even his most devoted admirers twinges of discomfort. As a story, it is clean and straight. Those who admire craftsmanship will be right in calling it a masterpiece... it is a poem of action, praising a brave man, a magnificent fish and the sea, with perhaps a new underlying reverence for the Creator of such wonders.
It is a tale superbly told and in the telling Ernest Hemingway uses all the craft his hard, disciplined trying over so many years has given him.
Within the sharp restrictions imposed by the very nature of his story Mr. Hemingway has written with sure skill. Here is the master technician once more at the top of his form, doing superbly what he can do better than anyone else.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mrstreme
Hemingway was always an author I wanted to tackle, so I decided to start "small" and go with The Old Man and the Sea. Overall, I enjoyed this novella and appreciated this story of perseverance and sheer will.

The Old Man has not caught a fish in months. Encouraged by The Boy, he decided to go far out into the sea, sure that his luck must soon take a turn for the better. The Old Man was right and snarls an 18-foot marlin. By himself, The Old Man must wait for the marlin to tire out before he can bring the fish to shore. The marlin and the Old Man start a cat-and-mouse game of who's going to last the longest.

I was fascinated with the way this story was written - it was mostly a narrative with very little dialogue. Less gifted writers could not have pulled this off, but Hemingway did beautifully.

Am I ready for more Hemingway? The Old Man and the Sea has definitely made me more confident. In any case, I am glad to have read this delightful little story.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a geriatric Cuban man alone at sea while fishing for a long duration of time? Then this book is great for you!

Otherwise, you may still enjoy this book, as it provides an interesting narrative in Hemingway's trademark style, all while providing a bit of allegory for the author's life.

And to top it off, it's not that long!

So, if you're looking for a quick read, or want to pick up some more fishing tips (note, you may not actually pick up any fishing tips), then this book is perfect for you!

Recommended for fans of Hemingway, Steinbeck, or Fitzgerald.
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LibraryThing member chickadeegirl
boring!!!!! did not enjoy!!!!
but it does teach perseverence...how it got famous i'll never know
LibraryThing member jq09cn
The story begins in a little village near the sea. A village lives a few people who depend on catch fish for life. This story main setting is sea. A old man who lives in that village has no food to eat, so he go fishing. He goes to a place very far from village. And then after he catchs the fish D:Maggio he drives his boat from deep sea to coastal waters. At last he comes back to village.… (more)
LibraryThing member sturlington
Every time I read a Hemingway novel, I am reminded that I am not a man. Hemingway describes a macho world whose rules I really don’t understand. This is probably his most accessible book, primarily because it’s pretty short, and he won the Pulitzer for it. On the surface, it’s a simple story of an old fisherman who struggles to defeat the biggest catch of his life, and then loses it anyway. But even though it is a simple story — and simply told, in Hemingway’s trademark style, it is also a story about life and how to live it.

The problem is that, while I get that, I don’t really understand it in my gut, which I think is what Hemingway wanted. There is a point in Santiago’s struggle when he wonders why he chased the fish out so far. Why didn’t he turn back? Well, I had this exact same thought, except I had it several pages before, when the fish first started towing him out to sea. And that is why I can’t relate to Hemingway’s characters or the heroic code they espouse — because I would have just cut the line.

That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate this story. I enjoy Hemingway’s style, his descriptions of the sea and the marlin and the sharks, which are so precise and evocative. I’m glad I finally got around to reading this, even if it’s likely the last Hemingway novel I will attempt to read.
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LibraryThing member cmeyer
The old man and the sea

Ernest Hemingway is the author of the story the old man and the sea. He started as a journalist and than he began to write books. In the United States he’s got the experiences and material for his books. He loved to sail and go fishing, so I think this had a big influence of the book. He wrote about an old fisherman called Santiago and his best and only friend Manolin that lived in Cuba. They often go together fishing until Manolins parents has forbidden. But Manolin still helps the old man with several little things like to bring him food.
At the eighty-five day without a catch Santiago goes out far for fishing. He endures a great struggle with a large and noble marlin. But he loses the beautiful fish to the sharks on his way back home.
This is the most important part in the book. I think this part shows the best which two main topics the book has. First and for me the most important topic is the cycle of nature. It means that who a start is, is also and end. It tells also that in the hole world, equal human or animal, there is always a predator and a prey. First Santiago is the predator because he caught the marlin and later he is like the prey because his brother the fish is eaten by the sharks. The second important topic is the faith and vision. I suppose to have faith means not to fear the unknown but to believe in the possibilities. One must have faith in God an also in oneself, because God helps those who help themselves. Santiago beliefs that he is be able to catch the big fish so his faith helps him to confirm this difficult mission.
But also whit this lost Santiago ends this story whit his unbreakable spirit. The fishermen saw the skeleton of the big marlin and thought “ I have never seen a bigger fish in my life”.

In the book the fundamental characters are Santiago, the Marlin and Manolin.
Santiago is an old man who has an unbreakable spirit and trust. He is a visionary, he can do thing witch other can’t do only because he has the faith and he can imagine them. He is a very strong man physically and mentally and he has e great will. About his character we all can learn a lot, because he doesn’t cares what the other people think, he goes his own way.
The second fundamental person is the Marlin, the big fish in the story. He represents the hope of Santiago. He is born as a fish, like Santiago is born to be a fisherman. For me the behaviour from the fish is very interesting and also linked with the manners of the human because he does give up.
Finally there is Manolin, the best friend of Santiago. He is the only person who truly loves the old man and cares about him. I believe Manolin represents Santiago’s immortality. Manolin is the only one that Santiago can pass on his knowledge. For me he is also a symbol of uncompromised love and fidelity.

But I believe that in the book there exist many other important messages. One is that the people must have respect for the nature, because we all life together in one world so we are all connected and a part of the cycle of the nature. And this is shown perfectly in the act with the sharks. They show the cycle of the nature in which everything must be killed/ beat by something else. But they also represent the new generation of fishermen who attack the sea and all its creatures.
I trust that we all must go through some struggles with as much strength as possible because in our life we have struggles every times.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
This is Hemingway's most famous book, a short novella that reinvigorated his literary career and won him the Nobel Prize for Literature. It's also the last book he ever wrote. The Old Man and the Sea follows the plight of an aging Cuban fisherman who has not caught a fish in eight-four days, losing hope and pride, his apprentice forbidden to work with him because he is now considered bad luck.

And I didn't really like it that much, which is annoying, because I really wanted to. A lot of people talk about how his simplistic style of prose draws the reader into the tale, makes it more intense and passionate, but I felt exactly the opposite. It was tedious and it never really engaged me. Reading passages about hooks and fish and bait and the ocean, I couldn't help but keep comparing it to Life of Pi, a book which features far more atmospheric renderings of the same topics.

Maybe I wasn't in the mood to be reading today, or maybe it's just not my kind of fiction, but this one was a miss.
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LibraryThing member maggie0807
I read the book " The Old man and the Sea ". The novel description is one year near sixty years of age senior fisherman, when alone goes to sea in one fishing, fished one big fish, actually did not pull. The senior fisherman socialized several days after the fish, only then discovered this was the big marlin which one surpassed the oneself fishing boat several fold, although knew perfectly well very difficult to win, but still did not give up. Afterwards and further because in the big marlin wound fish fishy smell brought in several crowds of shark fish snatches the food, but the old person still did not hope like this to give up, finally highlighted encircles tightly, returned to the big fish belt the fishing port, lets other fishermen not admire already.
I extremely admire this senior fisherman, because he by now already projected on some fish, but he had not settled to the present situation, but was approaches the bigger goal advance. Again has a look us, usually meets one slightly is difficult, we all complain incessantly. We will be the motherland future, will be supposed to like this old person same mind lofty aspiration, will even better pursue even better, the bigger goal. I admire old person that kind do not dread, the relentless spirit, although knows the match strength is very strong, but he not slightly flinches, but is welcomes difficultly above. Just because had this kind of spirit, the senior fisherman only then achieved this life and death contest success. senior fisherman fear hard and dangerous diligently did not struggle, we also should like his such, could not satisfy the present situation, should positively to above, do any matter all is relentless, meets difficultly must welcome difficultly above, could give up halfway in no way. Only has this, we only then can obtain a bigger success and the victory.
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
When reviewing a classic like The Old Man and the Sea, it's difficult to find something to say that hasn't already been said. This concise novella packs a punch in 128 short pages. Santiago is the old man in the title, a Cuban fisherman who has gone more than 80 days without a catch. He's a lonely man, ridiculed by other fishermen and forced to fish alone after losing his assistant (forced by his parents to fish with another, luckier, fisherman). Santiago decides to go further out into the sea than the other fishermen and, sure enough, snags a marlin larger than his boat.

The rest of the book recounts Santiago's efforts to reel in the fish (this task alone takes more than a day), and then bring the fish back to port. He demonstrates powerful mental and physical strength as he combats the marlin, sharks, hunger, fatigue, and loneliness. Much has been written about this work's themes of pride and redemption, and comparisons to Hemingway's late career. And while there are certainly symbols and messages in this book, it's also a great story that holds your attention the entire way through.
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LibraryThing member JLSmither
Like Moby Dick, The Old Man and The Sea clearly isn't for everyone. But I loved it. You don't pick this one up for the plot, you pick it up for what it says about the human condition. About each one of us, more so the older we get. Life is a struggle. Sometimes we get lucky and something amazing happens. But even then, does it really matter? We can feel proud and we can feel shame, we can face the world as an impoverished Cuban fisherman or as the great Joe DiMaggio, we can feel energy or exhaustion, and we can put up brilliant and incredible fights… but in the end, does it matter? We all die. We all struggle and die and then are eaten.

That sounds horribly depressing, I realize, but it's not! Truly! How freeing to know that no matter what you count as your personal successes and failures in life, we all end up the same way. The trick is just to keep fighting. Just keep striving for better, for stronger, for longer. Be content with what you have and what you've achieved, yes, and allow others their own choices, but strive, always strive.

Santiago is like some kind of Zen master, never begrudging the other fishermen for their success, still loving the boy even though he has had to join a more successful boat, and deeply respecting the marlin who struggles so epically and forms such a worthy adversary. The sharks finally snap the calm, peaceful thread through this story, the sharks that defeat the old man.

There will always be sharks. There will be 85-day stretches without a fish. There will be giant marlins who fight for 3 days. There will be times you have to eat dolphin without lime or salt. The nobility of these struggles comes not from the struggle themselves, but out of how we react to them. Each of us has a choice at every moment to get angry, bitter, and frightened. Or, we can choose to recognize the ultimate meaninglessness of these tiny battles and accept life for what it is.

This story could very well be the defining one of Santiago's life. But who will know about it outside his village? How much will he even tell the boy? This is just one small story in the course of one small life, the kind of thing that gets quickly forgotten by everyone else. But what is a life but a series of small stories--accomplishments mixed with failures? And what can a story from another small life contribute to mine?
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LibraryThing member Carmenere
Santiago is a very old Cuban fisherman, probably past his prime for attempting to haul in a big fish on his own. But alone he is for his young shipmate, Manolin, has been pulled off his skiff to fish with his father. Santiago is determined, after going for 85 days without a catch, to bring in a fish, not just any fish but a righteous large one. He wants to prove to others, as well as himself, that he’s still got it in him. Armed with two bottles of water, an empty stomach and bad eyesight he sets out as usual but this time he sails out further, to where he can no longer see the mountain tops of Cuba, beyond the view of the other fisherman, beyond the lights of Havana and into the gulf stream. All that remains is him and the sea until he feels the pull of something on his line.
Hemingway’s prose creates tension with every struggle Santiago faces and he faces them all, emotional, physical and mental in addition to coming to terms with his own mortality. Hemingway’s style is so very simple but one would be delusional to think that he or she could ever duplicate it because he not only tells a story but puts the reader into the heart of his characters.
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LibraryThing member Renzomalo
Having nothing to read I picked up my copy of Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea" to see how much I remembered of it from my speed-reading class in 1968. Not much, as it turns out.

At the end of the 90 minute class, we took a test on the text and I passed with something like a 95% score on what I knew then to be baby simple questions. Still, I did absorb something. What I have learned since is that my so-called "speed-reading" garnered me some superficial facts while rendering the beauty of the narrative a fast passing blur. It was not unlike riding a bike through the Louvre. You can say you were there and saw the Mona Lisa, but that's it. No time to mull over her beauty or diminutive size – nothing. You saw it in passing.

An enjoyable read and one that I will suggest to my grandson for his summer reading program. But now as an old man myself, I have to wonder if the exhausted and beaten Santiago wasn't Hemingway foreshadowing his own demise? Did Papa just go out too far? Have to wonder. Four stars.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
Hemingway's genius at simplicity is even more evident by way of a simple tale. In about a hundred short pages, you'll enjoy an adventure, ponder the meaning of age for men, and want to visit the sea.
LibraryThing member shofichoudhury
I can re-read the book anytime that kind of interesting it is.It inspired me a lot...!!!
LibraryThing member dracopet
Arguably the most boring book I have ever had the misfortune of reading. Great if you like books where absolutely nothing happens.
LibraryThing member adribabe
This was an interesting read to say the least. The story read very simple, so simple that probably a 1st grader can read it. So I didn't start off impressed with the artistic style. However as the story progressed I kept thinking of the story of The Pearl (which is one of my favorites) and found them very similar in their basic idea. The moral of the story is what makes it fantastic. After a couple days of reading it, I'm still thinking of the old man. I have a feeling the old man is another great literary character that will stay with me.
*****
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LibraryThing member hqk
This is a great book. You should read this book, more than once, though save one of your readings for a special time.

Wait for a night that stretches wide and empty before you. Wait for a night when your senses and emotions are at the surface and crackling. Wait for a night when the image of an African seashore at evening where lions come to the long white beaches and "play like young cats in the dusk and he loved them," sings to your heart. Treat yourself to this book on a night like this.

Then hide away from interruptions and read the book, slowly. Hold each image in your mind for a moment. Feel the sway of the skiff and think of the immense depth of dark water below you. Feel the salt stinging in the cuts in ancient hands as the line is pulled along. Contemplate the struggle that occurs and lay your hopes where you dare.

The story? Simply, an old man and the sea, and so much more.
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LibraryThing member lamotamant
This is a biased review. It contains spoilers, in memoriam sentimentality, and personal quips. Beware.

Here's the deal: I'm fixing to be 27 in a little over a month. So I'm feeling pretty sentimental. Add in the *BOOM* of Father's Day coming and passing and the little bit of grief that starts pouring over the sides of the cup because of it and any father-ish Old Man deal is probably going to pluck at my nerves a bit. My dad died when I was seven. Unfortunately grief doesn't come and go in as much finality as the ones we grieve. It sticks with and shapes you a little here and there. That's not a bad thing though it can certainly feel like it. It brings tears but it can also bring self-reflection, wisdom, and a wealth of compassion. Consider this the silver lining look of things from someone who also knows what shit it is to lose someone so vital. You get good things you might never have experienced but you also get the anger, confusion, and emotional distortion that plays loud and heavy in a lot of different areas at different times in your life.

Don't worry, this is leading somewhere.

I was lucky. I had a good dad for seven years. He was a mixed bag guy doing the best he could in his nerdy, pocket-protector-wearing way. He had a strong sense of character and he believed in things like spending time with your kid, cooking for your family as an expression of love, that you work hard no matter what, you take care of family (no matter what), and that Indiana Jones is and always will be a total badass. Oh, and that dry alphabits cereal with the rainbow marshmallows is the best movie night food and fierros are the best cars even if they keep catching on fire and you end up having to get a tow home on a late night Krystals run in your ratty scrub pants that you insist on never throwing out (because no one's ever going to see them, right?). He sang Amazing Grace in church and made his little girl believe it really did exist out there in the world.

It's this man that I remember at Father's Day and this man that gave me the wisdom to fall in love with books. It was also this man's few possessions I was going through a few days ago while searching for my parent's wedding album for my mom. Amongst the old bomber jacket, a red telescope, old chess set, and other memorable odds and ends sat The Old Man and the Sea. Surprisingly not noticed prior to this which is a bit odd to me to say the least. My dad was enamoured with books and learning but most of his books sat on my shelves long after he died, wrapping me up in comfortable and familiar prose whenever I needed them to. This book, however, was mixed up in Scientific American mags and old almanacs.

I pulled it out and figured it might be interesting to see why this particular book was liked by him so much that the dog-eared pages were clearly visible after all this time. (Not to mention I needed a book with an "O" for a reading challenge, fortuitous no?) It was pretty easy to get the picture within the first few pages.

You're introduced to a wise old man whose luck has fallen flat. However, he has a wealth of character and strength despite this fact and he happens to be respected and loved for it by a young boy that looks up to him and by the community he inhabits. It's this character that prompts his will to work hard, to do things the right way, to have respect and love for what he does and the scheme of his life that consists of religion, cultural belief, identifying with animals (even the ones he survives on) and seeing them as lives that should be respected and honored, and a personal reserve that he's more in tune with than most people seem to be. Even though he has this wisdom and reserve, he's also human in his stubbornness and his fight with his catch and the sad denouement that results because of his fallacy, pride, and said stubbornness.

I was lucky. I caught a glimpse of my dad in this book. A glimpse that showed me why he was probably moved by this book in particular or by Hemingway in general. Why it would appeal to his sense of rightness in the world, his character and wealth of humility and strength. Even his stubbornness.

It's sappy and sentimental but it's human. And while the fish may just be a fish and my dad was certainly just my dad- I'm happy in my human sentimentality and happy in experiencing this book.
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LibraryThing member dczapka
Hemingway's celebrated novella is the kind of story I imagine grows on you, since it's told in such a simple, stark style that it invites all types of interpretation.

The old man, Santiago, is, like all other elements of the book, simple but enthralling. His resilience and persistence, even as we get small hints of his mental waverings (such as his increasing persistence in talking to himself), adds interest to the prolonged attempt to catch a giant marlin that is the centerpiece of the book. All told, the fight, though lengthy, features long lulls, and it's the interest Hemingway builds in Santiago that sustains interest throughout.

Hemingway is not, however, for everyone, and those looking for extensive description or language that is not tough and terse won't find it here -- though I wonder why anyone would look to Hemingway for that. At times, the simplistic style can feel constraining: the repeated circling of the marlin late in the fight, for instance, feels repetitive and uninteresting after a short time. However, when Hemingway casually alludes to "the first shark" during the return trip, the simplicity of sentence builds far more suspense more quickly than a long, drawn-out passage would have.

So, like most of the Hemingway I've read, the story is generally hit or miss. But it does work well as a casual read, as a parable, as a fable, as an allegory, and in almost any other way you can imagine, and you have to give credit for its wide-ranging appeal.

You need not know much about fishing to appreciate the humanity of the struggle, and it is this timeless, placeless quality that elevates The Old Man and the Sea to the classic status it holds today.
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LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
Most readers, and high school English students, already know the plot of The Old Man and the Sea. Santiago is an old man, and many are starting to think that he can no longer fish. He has gone for months without landing any kind of fish and has lost his apprentice to another fishing crew. He sets out into the open sea and goes a little further out than he normally would in his desire to catch a fish. Finally, he snags a huge marlin and spends three days and nights in the sea, battling the fish.

The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel and is much simpler than many of Hemingway's other books. Maybe because of its brevity, it's considered one of his finest works. The characters are minimal so he had a chance to show what a skillful writer he was. Hemingway excels in describing the tension of the old man's dogged determination, the magnificence of the great marlin and the beauty of days and nights alone on the sea. This unvarnished style lets him tell a story of simple bravery.

The Old Man and the Sea was the last major book Hemingway wrote, and it led to his receiving the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. I urge you to read this short book and discover one of the greatest works in American literature.
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LibraryThing member sadiebooks
the most boring book i have ever read. i don't know why i keep trying to give hemingway a chance. he's really just a cure for insomnia.
LibraryThing member debnance
The Old Man and the Sea was possibly the worse choice I've ever made for a read-a-thon. The old man spends most of the book fighting the fish, weary, exhausted, tired. I'm not at all interested in fish but Hemingway is a writer I like, thin and lean.
LibraryThing member LovingLit
I like to read the favourite books of other people, in doing so I always look for what they saw in it. It was easy for me to find greatness in this short classic.

The writing is simple, deceptively simple. There is very little personal feeling explained, but actions and comments slyly placed give us what we need to create a full picture of the old man of the title. The absence of explanation allows the reader to use the character's actions and statements to form their opinions of the characters, rather than relying on the author telling us that they are kind, subtle, humble, hardworking or whatever it is that they area.

Anything said about the plot, including the one word I have to describe the entire thing, would give it all away, so avert your eyes now as I say what this novel is about.

Futility. Beautiful, gentle and very real futility.
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LibraryThing member abhidd1687
reading the book was like i was reading my school English literature books...its a simple story with few characters, an old fisherman being the main protagonist...
its a book about hope, positive attitude, resilience and enduring faith in oneself...loved the chemistry between the old fisherman and d boy and also the fisherman talking to himself "get clear, head" "don't get crammed,hand"...
it tells us how an old man after a long streak of bad luck, finally got lucky and den saw his luck turning again to unlucky in front of his eyes and yet he sustained...
its a book about HOPE and FAITH
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LibraryThing member cm37107
Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.

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