The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Book - 1952
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Told in language of great simplicity and power, this story of courage and personal triumph remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most enduring works.

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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952.
ISBN: 9780684801223
Characteristics: 127 p.
Alternative Title: Old man & the sea


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Nov 29, 2018

I read this as a child growing up in Southern California. We went deep sea fishing most weekends for albacore, swordfish, and sailfish. This may be the most powerfully moving book of the sea I’d ever read. Now, 50 years later, it’s just as moving. Read the book then watch Spencer Tracy in the movie. It’ll change your life!

Jul 30, 2018

I love this novel. Brought it with me on a fishing trip this time. There are a lot of themes in this story - aging, pride, the value of one's guile, simple pleasures, etc. But ultimately it is also about "catching the big one." Everyone who loves to fish should read this novel.

Apr 27, 2018

This is a reread. Sometimes I have to come back to the classics to not only visit old friends but to remind myself how the masters did it. What can I possibly say about this iconic novel that hasn't already been said before? It's more a short story than a novel. The protagonist is an old man and the antagonist is life itself, or the sea as its metaphor. The protagonists struggle was real, yet there was beauty in how he kept going on. It's as if his struggle with the marlin was the manifestation of his struggle with life and more widely of our own struggle with life and death.

It's hard not to think of "Moby Dick" because every tale of a guy at sea and a quest for a fish makes one think of Melville, though Melville was likely influenced by Shakespeare.

On the surface, the story is simple enough for any five year old to grasp. But beneath the surface is a protagonist raging at the abyss. Or perhaps one could say he was accepting the abyss.

The language that Hemingway uses is simple, it masterfully doesn't call attention to itself. There is something so matter of fact about the prose - just as there is about the old man. One has the feeling as one reads this tale that this is what the gods do, they watch us live our little lives with keen attention but nothing more, no rooting or lamenting, just witnessing it all.

Something about the old mans dance with the marlin and then the sharks is so primal. This is the stuff of life, as if there is an ocean all around us where things surface and we are thrown into dealing with them or succumbing to them. And to have this juxtaposed against the old man doing that for the marlin who is likely minding his own business down there as the old man is what the marlin must deal with.

There were these moments in the prose where whatever is currently happening is visited by an eloquent side street to illuminate a truth. These moments don't interrupt the narrative, they rather flow along giving the current action layers upon layers.

The story seems to end where it began. There is a sense of the days we spent with the old man as being representative of his life, the keeping on in the face of whatever life brings, the moxie to live and show up another day.

Thinking about Hemingway, there seems to have been something he saw in that life and death struggle of hunting and fishing. Putting aside my personal feelings about such things, it seems Hemingway or papa as some called him, had an affinity for the life and death struggle. It's too easy to say it was a reflection of his demons, having taken his own life. It's ironic how someone that full of life fought life so hard. It's as if he wanted to soak up every minute in case he decided tomorrow he was going to throw it all away.

The old man could be seen as a manifestation of Hemingway's battle with the will to live or die.

In the end there is something so earthly and so ethereal about this tale. It seems to break life down to its bare bones. I think all stories that pit man against nature or human nature against all of nature make naked all it is to be human. Because of that, this tale is so poignant. None of us knows what lurks beneath our next moment, what surprises it or we might hold. It's constantly astonishing how unique we all are and yet so damn the same. There is something poetic in this and damn Hemingway for not being here to tell us what it is.

Apr 01, 2018

I read this book cover to cover in one evening. Such a beautiful story. I love finding books that remind me why I love to read

Mar 27, 2018

Such a beautiful writing this one is ❤️ I recommend it to all!

Mar 06, 2018

I read this book for the "A Book That Has Won A Pulitzer Prize Any Year" part of my 2018 reading challenge. I really enjoyed it, it was simple yet gripping, and I was sucked right in to the man's trials.

Nov 21, 2017

Just a heads up. This translated version is really bad. I left this half-way since rhe translation was not clear at all.

Oct 22, 2017

Lessons are taught and learned in many different aspects of life, from the coming of age to simply settling down with a family. This story shows in a contemporary fashion the importance of a valiant attitude towards what we perceive as defeat. It is told by Ernest Hemingway, who has lived through both world wars, as well as mental illness, and to us is an account; his advice on how we should act when facing loss. Using fairly simple prose, Hemingway creates characters that are meaningful to all readers: they can be sympathized with, and symbolize our humane traits, such as the will to live. Although the plot only concerns an older man fishing by himself out in the unforgiving sea, many elements bring this idea to life -- the sharks who eat away his hard-earned reel, the bruising and abrasions he gets the more he fights. This novel won the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature, and signified a major concept in the philosophical interpretation of life. Rating: 5 of 5
@Mercurial_Series of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

I read this book when I was really young. Honestly speaking I could not understand the real purpose of writing this story because it seemed a little bit boring for me. The story was about an old man who made his living from fishing, and he went to sea in a cold, storming winter night. He got a big fish after hard work, however, a few sharks wanted that fish as his food as well. Those sharks began trying to get every bit of meat off the fish. After a few days spent on the sea, the old man lost almost all meat off the fish. He was so angry that he finally beat the sharks. In my opinion, the author wrote this story to encourage people to fight against the evil force. Generally speaking, it did work for me. The old man never gave up although there were so many sharks and he knew he could not really keep his fish from them. I would give a 4.5 out of 5.
- @Lize of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Jul 25, 2017

The Old Man and the Sea is a great introduction for those wanting to explore the unique style of Hemingway's works, concise/ straight to the point. The book is not lenghty at all and explores very relatable, universal human struggles through the focus of on an elder fisherman, and because of that I would recommend to any age group.

Hemingway writes a classic fable illustrating the characteristics of manhood. He draws vivid pictures of abstract traits such as willpower and responsibility while pondering man’s place within nature even as he seeks, at times, to dominate it. Ultimately our greatest struggle is our final one.

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trevordunfordswife May 29, 2016

trevordunfordswife thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

green_tiger_1714 Mar 24, 2016

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Nov 05, 2013

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Dec 01, 2012

tuslik thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Jian Feng Wang
Aug 08, 2012

Jian Feng Wang thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 99


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siammarino Apr 24, 2016

an incredibly courageous old man hooks a swordfish while fishing alone, but must battle sharks all the way home. There is little left of the fish by the time arrives exhausted and dehydrated, but at least his young friend is there to comfort him.

FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

An old Cuban fisherman faces the battle of his life when he goes against a fantastic marlin.


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Oct 01, 2016

"'But a man is not made for defeat', he said. 'A man can be destroyed but not defeated.'"


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