I picked up this book a few weeks ago since I'm on my journey to read more classics, and it was much lovelier than I thought!
Title: The Old Man and the Sea
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publisher: Arrow Books
No. of Pages: 99
Here, for a change, is a fish tale that actually does honor to the author. The Old Man & the Sea revived Hemingway's career, which was foundering under the weight of such postwar stinkers as Across the River & into the Trees. It also led directly to his receipt of the 1954 Nobel Prize--an award he 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 with a magnificent marlin encapsulates Hemingway's favorite motifs of physical & moral challenge. -(Goodreads)
4 stars: Page decides that this book was very enjoyable
however, it was not catapulted into amazing.
This was my great uncle's favourite book, my mum tells me. On hearing that I bought a copy from Waterstones, and went home with a slip of a book in my hands. It's tiny. Barely 100 pages. But, to quote Shakespeare, though it be but little it is fierce.
Despite its simplicity, The Old Man and the Sea is a hard book to read. There isn't an amazing plot or those complex twists and turns that seem to litter many novels. No, the Old Man's story is simply a tale- a passing of time during which you read every turn of events that occurs. That's it. Something simple that I think I didn't expect. Its so easy to assume that to be good, it has to be something to blow your mind, but its so wrong. A lot of the time, all thats needed is a story that defies what you know to be true. That is different and so interesting in the way that it weaves its words together. For me, that was why this book was so remarkable.
For example, the Old Man who is the focus of the novel sees things so differently. One thing that I really noticed was how he talked about the fish he was trying to catch. He saw it as an honour to kill the fish, and called it his brother, many times feeling it was more worthy of life than him. He talked about it in that way constantly, and as a result, his fishing excursion became a journey that revealed the man's soul and spirit. He was determined, honest, humble and I really loved how he expressed himself. The way he also talked about his own body -when his hand cramped for example- really resonated with me. To him it was a betrayal, where he felt his body wasn't doing that which he wanted it to, and wasn't keeping up with the capacity of his brain. It reminded me of what you hear sometimes- that with older people their bodies aren't able to do what their minds still want to. I think that really reflected in the story, because the man was intelligent and strong but his feats toiled hard on his body. It was powerful message.
What really got me was the ending. Whilst reading, you really feel the man's struggle. He gets hurt and its impossible to keep reading and not understand all the pain and effort he keeps wrestling through. But the ending was just heartbreaking. I don't want to spoil it, but ahhhh. Still, its humbling, because whilst it may not be the ending you might like, there is still good at the end. It also serves as a reminder that sometimes what we may feel are our ultimate goals just aren't what we need. They might not turn out to be what you wanted and that's okay- you may just find that you already have what you truly need.
So yes, The Old Man and the Sea is a book I would recommend to those looking for a hidden diamond. One that you have to look closely to find, but is surely as important and amazing as the journey it took to get there. Make sure you go and pick it up, you never know what you'll find. :)
The Old Man and the Sea is a philosophic wonder that is one of a kind.