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Old Man And The Sea Hardcover – Special Edition, Jun 10 1996

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Classic Edition edition (June 10 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684830493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684830490
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (576 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Here, for a change, is a fish tale that actually does honor to the author. In fact The Old Man and the Sea revived Ernest Hemingway's career, which was foundering under the weight of such postwar stinkers as Across the River and into the Trees. It also led directly to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1954 (an award Hemingway 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 (or hand-to-fin) with a magnificent marlin encapsulates Hemingway's favorite motifs of physical and moral challenge. Yet Santiago is too old and infirm to partake of the gun-toting machismo that disfigured much of the author's later work: "The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords." Hemingway's style, too, reverts to those superb snapshots of perception that won him his initial fame:

Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air.
If a younger Hemingway had written this novella, Santiago most likely would have towed the enormous fish back to port and posed for a triumphal photograph--just as the author delighted in doing, circa 1935. Instead his prize gets devoured by a school of sharks. Returning with little more than a skeleton, he takes to his bed and, in the very last line, cements his identification with his creator: "The old man was dreaming about the lions." Perhaps there's some allegory of art and experience floating around in there somewhere--but The Old Man and the Sea was, in any case, the last great catch of Hemingway's career. --James Marcus --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"It is unsurpassed in Hemingway's oeuvre. Every word tells and there is not a word too many" -- Anthony Burgess "The best story Hemingway has written...No page of this beautiful master-work could have been done better or differently." Sunday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kathy (Kath4) on Sept. 21 2006
Format: Paperback
Believed by many to have been written at the time of Hemingway's innermost struggles, this story provided proof that Hemingway could indeed write a classic after so many years. The Old Man And The Sea tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman who has gone over eighty days without catching one fish. This string of bad luck comes after having made a career out of fishing in the Gulf Stream. Resisting those who offered help, the old man sets out to sea and indeed catches a giant Marlin. But the story does not stop there. Despite having hooked the Marlin, the old man remains in his boat trying to hold on to the fishing line and his mortality, while the Marlin perseveres in its attempt to escape death. While holding on and writhing in pain, the old man learns more about himself than he ever had before. His spirituality and empathy for others reaches an apex, and his graciousness in defeat reveals the identity of his character. The Old Man And The Sea is a story of revival and hope, followed by reality and defeat. This novel stands out as incredibly well written, a common characteristic of Hemingway novels and short stories. Despite being a short read, this short story leaves the reader with much more to ponder. The Old Man And the Sea is an excellent selection for anyone who can read between the lines. It proves itself as a classic that cannot be ignored. Also recommended: -----katzenjammer -----by Jackson McCrae, totally different but fun like Heller or Sedaris's works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dan McCulloch on Aug. 3 2005
Format: Paperback
Santiago is an old man. He was once a great fisherman, but no longer. The other fishermen ridicule him, or ignore him. Eighty days without a fish, and the parents of the small boy who helps him, Manolin, have forbidden him to work with Santiago any more. He is unlucky, they say, and the word is echoed around town.
But the old fisherman does not mind. He knows that life is difficult, that not everything goes the way you wish it would. On the eighty-fifth day, he sets out into the water, alone, and hooks a great fish. 'Never have I had such a strong fish nor one who acted so strangely', he muses to himself, early on in the battle. For it is a battle. The fish he has caught is strong, has great endurance, and a cunning that Santiago admires.
As time passes, he starts to talk to himself more and more. He muses on the strength of the fish, and how they are brothers. He desperately wants to catch it, so that he can return to Havana with some glory and enough money to sit and listen to the 'great DiMaggio' on the radio, in peace. But he also admires the fish, and gradually, he becomes unsure as to whether he has made the right decision in trying so hard to kill it.
'Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.'
Santiago is an old man, a man who has accepted his weaknesses and failures, but who also knows his strengths. He has a great confidence in his own abilities, but it is a weary, hesitant confidence that is difficult to explain. On the one hand, he knows that he has the capability to capture the fish. He has caught large fish before, and, thanks to the raw fish he has been eating, considers that he has the strength to keep going, for ever if necessary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chris Gregory TOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 18 2015
Format: Paperback
This is some of the best descriptive writing I've seen. Each description is vivid and paints a definite picture - Santiago's face, hands, walk, skin, clothes, movements - it's all part of the perfect example of brevity in writing. Pulizter, Nobel, both prizes of the ultimate in distinguished writing are certainly not wasted here.

The old man is hard-working, unlucky, and determined. He has been battered by nature, the people around him, and his life's profession, but he continues, he forges through and fights the great fight. With his greatest catch ever, he battles for days and succeeds only to be beaten in the end, or is it some type of triumph, but only in the heart.

Everyone should read this short, yet poignant story of Man vs. Nature!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a short story of an old fisherman who has been for some time short on luck, but now hooks a huge fish which, if he lands it, will compensate for all his losses and humiliations. Then it is a fight to retain and kill this massive fish which drags his small boat way out into the ocean. In his obsession with catching the fish, the fish becomes a personality with whom he has "conversations". He finally kills the fish, but then is faced with the reality that he cannot haul this fish aboard. He ties it alongside the hull of his tiny boat, and then commences the long journey home. On the way his fish attracts sharks. By the time he reaches port near Havana his fish has been eaten by the sharks, and is now merely a skeleton. The old fisherman has lost the commercial value of his fish, but the skeleton is there to prove his capabilities, particularly in the eyes of a young boy who is the only one in the community who has always believed in his fishing prowess. This story is written with great economy, but holds your attention to the end.
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By MS on Aug. 14 2015
Format: Paperback
A fine little book and a prize winning novel, in simple prose. Hemingway’s pared down style did not prevent me from picturing the setting and natural beauty he described. The story symbolizes the struggle to survive in life. To be lucky or the winner is paramount to the old man. The arm wrestling scene epitomizes this view. That life is hard, a struggle, and you have to compete to win. Frequent references to baseball clue the reader to this theme.

The struggle with the fish, a 1500 pound Marlin sail fish, literally becomes the struggle for life. The Old Man and the fish are attached by the fishing line and hook, a umbilical cord, and through both can feel the other. The fish even jumps out of the water to see who is there. Both know that one has to die. The Old Man has reason and tools to his advantage but he is physically weak. The fish has brute force. Suspense builds as this Darwinian struggle unfolds.

The Old Man wins but has a bitter sweet victory. He brings in the skeleton of the fish, sort of like a trophy, that is worthless at the fish market. Read it for the entertainment, for literature, and if you’re a fisherman you can pick up a couple of tips.
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