The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

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torilane
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The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

Post by torilane » 08 Nov 2015, 19:36

I recently put myself on a mission to read some of the classics my high school didn't mandate and among them were a few Hemingway novels. I have only read two so far, but I love his writing style. I don't find it complicated or too dense to understand, as I have found some classics to be. But there is something elegant about the way his books are written that differs from a lot of modern styles. Aside from the writing, I found the story to be one that was emotional for me the whole way through. There are two main characters and without much of a supporting cast, the relationship between them is all we need to focus on, and it's lovely. The only negative thing I have to say about this novel is that it's not one to cheer you up. However, it lets you know this from the beginning, so it's easy to decide quickly if your emotions can handle the whole story. I would definitely recommend this story about an old fisherman and his young counterpart.

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Post by DATo » 09 Nov 2015, 02:02

Nice review @torilane!

I'm glad you enjoyed this book which I consider my favorite Hemingway novel. Hemingway greatly admired human courage and it is evident in his books. At the time he wrote The Old Man and the Sea he was himself entering his autumn years and I suppose he could relate to Santiago's infirmities as he was plagued with physical pain resulting from a rough and tumble life of his own. Perhaps the point he was trying to make is that courage is not limited to young, burly men in physical contests but rather an attitude of mind. Sometimes courage is nothing more than the determination to see the job through, even when all hope is lost.

Something you might find interesting is that this story was based upon a true story. In his later years Hemingway lived for a time in Cuba where a Cuban man actually experienced what Santiago went through in the book, but he was not an old man, and for a price he would tell tourists about his adventure. When the movie came out starring Spencer Tracy he sued the production company for using his story (or was it Hemingway himself, I forget) but he didn't win the case.

If you haven't seen the movie I heartily encourage you to find it. It is an absolutely beautiful work of art. The footage in the movie of Santiago (Spencer Tracy) catching the fish is the actual, real-life footage of the world record catch of this species of fish (marlin).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlCPUFx5DUU

You will find many more suggestions of great books to read as you continue to browse these forums.

A nice post and excellent contribution to our forums! and, may I add, welcome to the website!
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Post by Fran » 09 Nov 2015, 05:13

I watched the movie many years ago & I just could not "get" the point of it but I think perhaps I was way too young (immature) to appreciate it. My negative experience of the movie has caused me to avoided reading the book but I plan to rectify that omission in 2016
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Post by elisa salazar » 06 Dec 2015, 18:41

I haven't watch the movie but I have read the book and I simply can say that Hemingway has created a materpiece. In my opinion this book is not something that doesn't cheer you up. It's the fact that Santiago catches the Marlin (which is his goal) and even though the complications he got on the way, he still has pride for himself for catching the Marlin and he still is able to show up toward Manolin. This story shows to the reader that if you make your goal or your dream come true, even though nobody knows that you have, you still can be happy about it.

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Post by falloutlunartic » 31 Dec 2015, 23:38

I agree that Hemingway's writing style is smooth and elegant, but the plot was so anticlimactic that it made me yawn. When Hemingway first catches the marlin, it reels you in (sorry for the pun), but it goes on for so long it seems sarcastic. Towards the end I really started to understand Santiago and I felt his pain of accepting that he can't do what he used to.
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Post by DATo » 15 Jan 2016, 18:13

falloutlunartic wrote:I agree that Hemingway's writing style is smooth and elegant, but the plot was so anticlimactic that it made me yawn. When Hemingway first catches the marlin, it reels you in (sorry for the pun), but it goes on for so long it seems sarcastic. Towards the end I really started to understand Santiago and I felt his pain of accepting that he can't do what he used to.
*****SPOILERS*****

I may be wrong, and I don't mean to be contentious with regard to your opinion, but I think you may have missed the point of the story. As you may recall, during his trial with the fish Santiago has flashbacks of earlier times in his life when he was anything but a feeble old man. He recalls a time when he was a very capable and very virile specimen of a man. These flashbacks are an ingenious device on the part of the author to appraise the reader of Santiago's former prowess. Though he may now be incapable of doing the things he did when he was young he still has the courage and determination to not be beaten (recall the story of the arm wrestling contest). The length of his battle with the fish as well as his battle with the sharks is meant to illustrate that the measure of a man is not to be made solely on the basis of physical strength, but also, and perhaps more importantly on the basis of character. At the conclusion of the book one is faced with the fact that Santiago has lost the material battle, but the pity which the reader (at least this reader) holds for the old man is tempered with a savage admiration.
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Post by alissa339 » 20 Jan 2016, 19:21

falloutlunartic wrote:I agree that Hemingway's writing style is smooth and elegant, but the plot was so anticlimactic that it made me yawn. When Hemingway first catches the marlin, it reels you in (sorry for the pun), but it goes on for so long it seems sarcastic. Towards the end I really started to understand Santiago and I felt his pain of accepting that he can't do what he used to.
I'm glad you appreciated Heminway's style, as I feel he is one of the greatest writers we have ever seen. But I think in terms of the "anticlimactic plot" one would need to consider that there is more to a book than just its plot. The beauty of Hemingway's novel lies in its complex simplicity, the way it so perfectly depicts the paradoxes and struggles that pain the human experience, not its plot. I think perhaps you should give Hemingway another try and focus more on the themes and language than on the plot, as there is a lot of greatness in this book that deserves do be recognized.

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Post by michael_3165 » 09 May 2016, 12:45

Hemingway is The King of plain English and this novel showcases this ability beautifully. Some have criticised his lack of ‘flare’ when it comes to his prose – most notably when William Faulkner wrote “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” Although not meant as an insult Hemingway retaliated with “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” (Ouch!) Hemingway paints a beautiful scene, taking us to a small fishing town in Havana where the Old Man lives in company of a boy that lives close by. He gives details descriptions of the Old Man’s living, using wrapped up newspapers as a pillow and living in a tiny shack. You can almost experience the life of the Old Man as he plans to catch the huge fish on the lucky 85th day of fishing.
We travel the oceans with the Old Man – witnessing his hunger, pain and thirst on his journey to capture the giant Marlin. Some of the commentary of the Old Man talking to himself is interesting and brings the character to life as it provides us with a view of the Old Man’s fighting spirit and desire to beat the elements. I can feel the pain in his hands as he fights the Marlin, the thirst and the lightheadedness as he almost gives up.

One detail I appreciate was the relationship that the Old Man built with his enemy and friend, the great Marlin. How Hemingway describes the Old Man’s feelings toward the Marlin – a mix of sadness, happiness, feelings of brotherhood and being a close friend – was a wonderful touch to the story.

Without giving too much away I will note that the ending was surprising though the ultimate meaning of the story is one of going out to achieve something but in defeat you learn or gain something unique and wonderful in itself. The fact that the Old Man – even when he was defeated in a way I personally didn’t expect – was revered as courageous, skilful and talented gave a satisfying end to this tale.

The Drawbacks…

Some have interpreted Hemingway’s eventual Pulitzer more as a nod to his overall career than as an award for The Old Man and the Sea—generally considered a lesser work to For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Despite the quality of work on display with ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ there was only so many times I could read about the fishing line, the kiff and the painful hands before it got a little bit much. Had I been someone who was a boating or fishing enthusiast I may have felt a greater appreciation for the work on offer. However I am neither a master fisherman nor a pirating apprentice and as such I did not need to have so many detailed descriptions of the boat! I can understand that Hemingway had a limited amount of story to work with – it is an Old Man on a boat fighting a giant fish remember! – and so I can give some credit for making the short book last as long as he did.
Not a lot happened… that’s not to say that’ a problem but I prefer my novels to at least have some story of some king.

Final Thought… Hemingway displays an impressive understanding of the human vs nature dynamic and this is played out beautifully with The Old Man and the Sea. With that in mind this book would not be to everyone’s tastes though I am glad I gave it a shot.

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Post by ellie_calvin » 09 May 2016, 16:16

The Old Man and the Sea was one of my favorite books in high school. The underlying themes of courage, strength, and learning from your failures really struck me. I think his writing style was really what pulled me in. I absolutely hated the slow pace we were reading in for class! I wanted to devour the story, not savor it. I have gone back and reread it a few times now and I always learn something new about myself and Santiago.

If you are interested in Hemingway, there is a fictional story by Paula McLain about his relationship with his first wife that you might like to read. Titled The Paris Wife, this book looks at his life experiences and how they influenced his writing. Although it is fiction the author uses information from his real life and details garned from conversations with his first wife to lend potential insight. It isn't a classic novel, but it a fun read about one of the great classic authors.
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Post by DATo » 27 Aug 2016, 07:45

michael_3165 wrote:
(Partially edited for brevity.)

The Drawbacks…

Some have interpreted Hemingway’s eventual Pulitzer more as a nod to his overall career than as an award for The Old Man and the Sea—generally considered a lesser work to For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Despite the quality of work on display with ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ there was only so many times I could read about the fishing line, the (s)kiff and the painful hands before it got a little bit much. Had I been someone who was a boating or fishing enthusiast I may have felt a greater appreciation for the work on offer. However I am neither a master fisherman nor a pirating apprentice and as such I did not need to have so many detailed descriptions of the boat! I can understand that Hemingway had a limited amount of story to work with – it is an Old Man on a boat fighting a giant fish remember! – and so I can give some credit for making the short book last as long as he did. Not a lot happened… that’s not to say that’ a problem but I prefer my novels to at least have some story of some kin(d).

Final Thought… Hemingway displays an impressive understanding of the human vs nature dynamic and this is played out beautifully with The Old Man and the Sea. With that in mind this book would not be to everyone’s tastes though I am glad I gave it a shot.
The repetition to which you refer was intentional on Hemingway's part. Hemingway is trying to appraise the reader of the tremendous physical toll this is taking on Santiago and he achieves this through continual reminders till the reader can almost feel the rope burning into his own hands. The entire description of Santiago's battle on the sea is meant to convey what would be an enormous hardship even for a young man. The entire point of the story would have been lost had the long and painful struggle Santiago endured not been described in long and painful detail.

"Not a lot happened… that’s not to say that’s a problem but I prefer my novels to at least have some story of some kin(d)."

OMG! A story of some kind?! *LOL* There was ONE HELL of a story and a lot happened, but, (no offense) I am sorry to say that it sailed completely over your head.
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Post by Joshiemic2 » 30 Aug 2016, 07:04

I found this book to be absolute rubbish! I never felt an ounce of empathy for the characters and I found the plot and specifically the ending, very disappointing!

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Post by Carsh_Lohal » 13 Sep 2016, 00:38

DATo wrote: The repetition to which you refer was intentional on Hemingway's part. Hemingway is trying to appraise the reader of the tremendous physical toll this is taking on Santiago and he achieves this through continual reminders till the reader can almost feel the rope burning into his own hands. The entire description of Santiago's battle on the sea is meant to convey what would be an enormous hardship even for a young man. The entire point of the story would have been lost had the long and painful struggle Santiago endured not been described in long and painful detail.
So I read this book over a period of many months, a few pages at a time. The reason this happened is because a dear friend had it in their bathroom and was apparently reading it as infrequently as I was, they weren't willing to lend it so I would steal a few pages every time I was over there and happened to be sitting on the loo :lol2:

"The reader can almost feel the rope burning into his own hands" was spot on. The book was even more drawn out since I was reading it so sporadically, but I completely agree that Santiago's struggle deserved to be described how it was. It would be an immense disservice to the entire point of the book to make efforts to pare it down and shorten it, I'm certain it wouldn't have the same effect on the reader at all. Hemmingway has an interesting ability to take very simple language and create something so incredibly moving with it, at anyone else's hand it would have been a chore to slog through.
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Post by Jainil » 13 Sep 2016, 04:36

O wow at which topic we r dissucing about i want free book but i dont know how to get it from this site plzzz help me i love books

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Post by lily_kh87 » 28 Sep 2016, 14:25

I read this book 5 months ago but I felt a little bored while I read. This is the second book I read for Ernest Hemingway but I just don't enjoy his writing style. Maybe there's a problem with the translated version I read.
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Post by onegoodbook_blog » 17 Oct 2016, 08:38

I read this book many years ago and listened to it last week while traveling. You might enjoy it more by listening to it. I get what you're saying. I'm sure I don't get all of the symbolism but since it's so short it's worth a closer examination. I enjoyed hearing it on cd.

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