Monday, June 16, 2014

Review- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Goodreads Summary:

Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Hemingway's magnificent fable is the story of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. In a perfectly crafted story, which won for Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature, is a unique and timeless vision of the beauty and grief of man's challenge to the elements in which he lives.


Ernest Hemingway is such a famous name in English literature and that in itself was enough for me to decide to read at least one of the author's works. I am glad to be taking my goal to read some literary classics seriously. When I picked The Old Man and the Sea to introduce myself to Hemingway, I was ready for a deep, thought-provoking and philosophical read that would make me contemplate because that is what literature does. I wouldn't say that the book didn't induce any of it at all, I would just say that it wasn't up to a very great extent. 

I read the 2013 revised edition of The Old Man and the Sea and for an author whose works have been so highly appreciated and who has been an inspiration for plenty of writers, I wasn't impressed at all with the writing. It was very simple and easy to understand. It's not like I'm not okay with that. Simplicity in writing actually makes a book easy to read. However- and this might have just been an edition or reprint mistake- there were too many editorial errors and typos which frustrated me to no end.

The Old Man and the Sea can be interpreted in various ways. For me, it was a story about the struggle for life and it was about hope. Santiago, the old fisherman, is well aware of his poor state after not having caught a single fish for a very long time, and at the same time, he knows that he has to go out there to earn his daily bread. He sleeps on a pillow made up of his trousers and a stack of newspapers. When the young boy, Manolin, offers him food and drinks, it looks like Santiago feels ashamed to accept it and he makes up stuff about how he has food stored. However well Santiago tries to hide his weakness, it's right out there for the reader to see. 

The end of the book is where it gets a little philosophical as Santiago manages to catch the biggest fish in the sea which is destroyed by a shark that ultimately makes Santiago hate the damn shark. The feelings and thoughts that Santiago develops towards this fish of his portray his character and the soft comparison between the two tells a lot. Santiago has a battle with himself as he finds himself talking loudly when alone at sea and that shows how lonely a man he is which makes his work, his life. That's all he does and he proves himself by going from being a fisherman who couldn't catch a single fish for eighty four days to someone who succeeds at what he knows so well. 

Ideally, I would have liked to think more before writing my review and I will think over the book, but at the same time, I don't really want to think about it because it could get very, very profound. The ending was unclear and I have a theory about it but it might actually complicate matters more for me. The Old Man and the Sea wasn't as epic as I expected it to be and there were many points in it that put me off. I would have really liked the book had I read it when I was younger (like most people have) but I wouldn't have got it back then. It's not like I've got it now, but I could at least perceive it in a few ways. 



  1. I never really got into this one either. I do understand the whole metaphor and the point of the story but I never really connected with any part of it. I would probably get it better if I read it now, but still it's not something I'm eager to re-read. Great review, Sarika :)

  2. As much as I enjoy classics, and would LOVE to read a Hemingway book, I have a love/hate relationship with classics. I don't personally think I would get into this one, nor would I want to. I do like that, the meaning of the story can be interpreted in different ways. Best thing about classics, IMO. Great review, Sarika! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 


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