Old Man And The Sea

Paperback | June 15, 1999

byErnest Hemingway

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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.

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From Our Editors

By taking on a giant marlin, an old fisherman faces his greatest fears, pulling courage out of defeat and triumph out of loss. This famous story about a Cuban fisherman demonstrates Ernest Hemingway’s fascinatingly direct and simple prose that won him a Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man And The Sea. The classic novella becomes an Imax ani...

From the Publisher

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 ...

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in the family home in Oak Park, Ill., on July 21, 1899. In high school, Hemingway enjoyed working on The Trapeze, his school newspaper, where he wrote his first articles. Upon graduation in the spring of 1917, Hemingway took a job as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. After a short stint in the U....

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.3 inPublished:June 15, 1999Publisher:ScribnerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0684801221

ISBN - 13:9780684801223

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Customer Reviews of Old Man And The Sea


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book one of my favourite books , it teaches not to give up and keep on trying,
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very overrated Longwinded and a tad absurd.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Fishy This novel was different than any of the expectations I had going into it, and unfortunately that includes my level of satisfaction while reading it. The novel, although short, felt incredibly long and meandering, and even if I knew Hemingway was trying to hint at something else, the whole thing felt too literal and wasn't fun. I've read other Hemingway, and while he is not my favorite, I have enjoyed his other works more than I did this one.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Book Didn't like this cover but it is still a great book.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Good I love Hemingway but this wasn't my favourite. However, I will always like it in a way because it got me into all his other works.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great brief read #plumreview A great book for a reader new to Hemingway. Its length (or lack thereof) may be less daunting in comparison to other far longer classics. It touches on man versus nature and perhaps man versus himself.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great story I'm not the biggest Hemingway fan, but I liked this story. Things do get bit repetitive in the middle of it, but it's a reflection of the protagonist's experience, so it makes sense, even if it's a bit dull. The end is heartbreaking. I read it was a metaphor for his struggle with alcohol, which adds even more depth to the story.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Man is not made for defeat" More than three-quarters of the way into Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, just after the magnificent description of the killing of the marlin, the simile almost lifts off the page as a surprise. Hemingway is describing the dead fish’s purple stripes as “wider than a man’s hand with his fingers spread” and its eye “looked as detached as the mirrors in a periscope or as a saint in a procession.” Reading this particular passage (I’ve probably read the novella three or four times as a youngster) the image astounded me. Not because of its power or imagination, but because it was there at all. I found myself wondering whether Hemingway even used another metaphor or simile elsewhere in this beautifully told tale of an old man, Santiago, and his life-and-death adventure on the sea outside his home of Havana, Cuba. And it wasn’t just one simile, but two in the same sentence! I thought, what a testament to the power of his writing that Hemingway could sustain a story of more than 120 pages and seldom rely on this literary trick. This is a supreme artist’s sure touch with language, simplicity on the surface and a world of complexity beneath. Much like what lurks beneath the water in this modern ancient mariner’s tale. Santiago is the old man who has gone 84 days without catching a fish. “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated,” writes Hemingway in that simple, straightforward, punctuation-free style of his. When the story opens, Santiago is shown with a young boy, Manolin, who looks up to him and learns from him and cares for him. Manolin has accompanied Santiago on many fishing trips but not on the epic adventure to come. The relationship between the two is touching and moving, with life lessons passed along the way. “Age is my alarm clock,” the old man tells the young boy at one point. “Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?” Certainly, age is one of the major themes Hemingway explores in this book. At one point, he recalls an arm-wrestling victory after two days that established the old man’s supremacy in that sport. But he has now become old and wears that burden with grace, as he does his courage and humanity: He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on. That image of lions on the beach will return but until then, we have the thrilling adventure of the chase, capture, death and aftermath of the great marlin that Santiago regards as a brother. That and Hemingway’s language, as smooth and satisfying as Cuban rum. Like this description of his fish line, so simple and precise and evocative that no metaphor or simile could do it justice: “His line was strong and made for heavy fish and he held it against his back until it was so taut that beads of water were jumping from it.” There are so many lessons and flashes of wisdom in this tale about age, fate, religion, morality, solitude and especially courage and fortitude. Santiago realizes after his epic battle that “man is not made for defeat” and that “a man can be destroyed but not defeated.” That comes soon after that powerful death-throes scene in which he spears the marlin with a harpoon into its heart: Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all of the skiff. Santiago then looks out to see a vanquished brother “silvery and still and floated with the waves.” The Old Man and the Sea is not a tragedy, although parts of it feel that way. It’s not an adventure although it certainly contains plenty of that. It may be an allegory. Certainly, there are allusions to the ancient mariner and a few comparisons of Santiago to Jesus as martyr, especially when Santiago (again, no accident in naming) realizes predators are circling his prize catch: “Ay,” he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood.” For good measure, after Santiago returns to his home with his skiff, Hemingway writes of him falling and laying “for some time with the mast across the shoulder.” But it’s not enough to just call The Old Man and the Sea an allegory or moral tale. It is an epic tale that, like the marlin that surprises Santiago with its size and greatness, is far greater than its 127 pages.
Date published: 2013-05-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not my favourite Hemingway With most books that are deemed “classics,” I find myself really wanting to like them. In university, I took a lot of courses on classic novels (I loved to read, what can I say?) and read some real gems. The Old Man and The Sea was not a book I had to read in university, but one that I picked up from the used bookstore. It’s a short read–a novella–and I figured it would be quick and painless, just one more book to cross off of my TBR list. What I’m learning, however, is that the classics aren’t for everyone. We all have the classics we love, and then there are the tedious, slow, and dreadfully long books that we just can’t wait to finish, but it seems to be taking weeks until we actually can. The Old Man and The Sea was one of those books for me. At only 127 pages, I figured it would be a quick read for the train and I would finish it in one or two trips. Instead, I found myself bored out of my mind with all of the fishing jargon, not really knowing what Hemingway was actually talking about. I’ve been fishing before, but I really don’t have a clue when you say “hull” or “mast”–I’m really just along for the ride. Even though the book seemed so long to me, taking days upon days to finish, I did enjoy the fact that the old man had perseverance. He wasn’t going to give up. His love for the sea was an honest love and I can only hope that most people nowadays can love something just as much. That must be why it’s read in so many schools, because of the lesson it teaches kids–perseverance, never give up. Although, the writing just seemed a little too simple for me–perhaps it’s a Hemingway thing, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little substance. I will give kudos to Hemingway for painting such a great picture of life at sea, but I’m sad to say that after a while it bored me. While it’s impressive that an entire book encompasses a story that would normally take a chapter in a normal book, it’s also a great way to drag down the reader who wants something to happen outside of the boat. I’m actually thinking of that newer movie with Ryan Reynolds, where he’s in the coffin, buried alive for the entire movie. It’s kind of like that. The premise is good, but once executed you’ll be wanting your money back. Happy to have read another one of the classics, but I think this Hemingway work just wasn’t for me.
Date published: 2012-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read this out loud I was very near to finishing Mr. Midshipman Hornblower when we were on our way to the hospital the other night, and I knew I was going to need something else at some point over the next few days. I was passing by the computer on the way to the door, and I decided to grab The Old Man and the Sea. I'd been using it as a mouse pad because the Scribner trade paperback edition is a perfect size with a slick, matte-laminated cover that the mouse glides across with no fuss. So the book was handy, I needed something, and I'd been meaning to read it again for months. I've read The Old Man and the Sea numerous times, and I've always loved it, but this time through it became much more than it has ever been before. This time I am reading it out loud, and it is a completely different book. I have heard complaints about Hemingway's lack of commas, his sparing punctuation and his repetition in The Old Man and the Sea, but let me assure all detractors that this is intentional and to a purpose. Hemingway wants us to read this book out loud, and the way he's structured the punctuation (so too his use of repetition) dictates the voice we are meant to use while we're reading. We are not meant to inject the story with emotional ejaculations; we are meant to read this in a low monotone, embracing the steady, quiet, imperturbable voice of Santiago, the titular Old Man, while he struggles against the marlin, the sharks, the sea and himself. And when we embrace Santiago's voice and breathe it into the world, The Old Man and the Sea undergoes a startling change. I think it is a beautiful novel even when lying dormant on the page, but spoken, it is a lush, sensuous, poetic masterpiece. Read this one out loud if you can. To yourself or to someone you love, even if that someone is a naked little two day old baby sleeping on your chest. You'll be glad you did.
Date published: 2009-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simple and elegant A brilliant story of a struggle between man and beast. This is a short read and keep everything as basic as possible, and it works so perfectly. I cannot possibly think of a reason for anyone not to read this. Sure a storyline of fishing may not appeal to everyone, but to overlook this title for that reason would be criminal. Give it a try, grab a copy, and read the first 20 pages, if you aren't hooked (pardon the pun), then I will be amazed.
Date published: 2009-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best The opening sentence of The Old Man & the Sea is in itself a work of literary art. In Cojimar, Cuba, where the story is set and from where Hemingway fished, I spoke with the late Raul Corrales, who photographed Hemingway with the local fishermen before the Revolution. They rapport they shared gives Hemingway's narrrative the honesty and authority that makes it such a classic.
Date published: 2008-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Grandest Fish Tale!! Whoever said they didn't like fishing? Well this book it does not matter if you like it or not it is a very moving and powerful novel staring a single old brittle man and a swordfish. This book's inspiration was when Hemingway went to Cuba.
Date published: 2008-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hemingway's Finest Moment This book is so way beyond criticism. It is the greatest piece of literature written in the English language since Shakespeare put pen to paper. Alter one word...even remove one comma, and there would be complete diminishment. It is THAT perfect. Hemingway was on top of his game when he wrote this novel. There has never been a finer story that depicts the nobility of the human spirit, than this one. I have read this novel many times, and the battle between Santiago, the Cuban fisherman and the Great Marlin that pulls him out to sea, is epic. Hugely epic. It still leaves me weak in the knees.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Allegory on Hemingway's writing experience A struggle between man and nature, as well as being able to make it to home base with a finished manuscript. While it is a very simple, short book, the depth of emotion and meaning is as great as the waters on which Santiago is floating
Date published: 2007-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ernest And The Ocean To wander along a coastline, Inhale some salty air. To swim across an ocean, Kick back without a care. To build a thousand castles, Catch tan then toast with beer. To just be, without your hassles, Is the sea, that he held dear. Doubt my words? Well, i'd read his first.
Date published: 2007-12-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Suprisingly quite good,even when linked to fishing I couldn't make my title any longer, since there's a limit of characters, but what i meant by it, was that it's actually quite good, even if you aren't into fishing and all of those whats whats. But i can't exactly say that i truly liked it,cause i haven't read the book completely: i just read the 'extract' they posted on the previous page (which is the one you're reading on right now). And i must say,i really did quite like it: the words - I've never seen most of them before, since i go to a french school and we only have English 3 time per week - The character's determination and all other details. Our English teacher said we had to buy it because we were going to do a project on it. I guess it's quite exciting, considering the fact that i've already enjoyed a part of it. So, Hip-hip, hurray! to Ernest Hemingway and to the Old Man and the Sea!
Date published: 2005-10-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The Old BORING Man and the Sea This book looked good. Looked short, 127 pages. Established author, good reputation, raving reviews. All I have to say is: This is the most boring book in the world!
Date published: 2001-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Old Man and the Sea This book was one of the most amazing books I have read in my life. The determination of the old man makes you look at life in a whole new way. Once I pick it up, I can't put it down. Everyone should read this book at least once.
Date published: 2000-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Changing My Life I don't know how to write what I felt when I read this book. But, this book changed my life in all aspects. I began to live diferent way. Nowadays, I live one day each time. This is wonderful!!!! Bye! Yours sincerely, Judith Maria
Date published: 1999-05-28

Extra Content

Read from the Book

from The Old Man and the SeaHe was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. 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. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated."Santiago," the boy said to him as they climbed the bank from where the skiff was hauled up. "I could go with you again. We've made some money."The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him."No," the old man said. "You're with a lucky boat. Stay with them.""But remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then we caught big ones every day for three weeks.""I remember," the old man said. "I know you did not leave me because you doubted.""It was papa made me leave. I am a boy and I must obey him.""I know," the old man said. "It is quite normal.""He hasn't much faith.""No," the old man said. "But we have. Haven't we?""Yes," the boy said. "Can I offer you a beer on the Terrace and then we'll take the stuff home.""Why not?" the old man said. "Between fishermen."They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen, looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen. The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice truck to carry them to the market in Havana. Those who had caught sharks had taken them to the shark factory on the other side of the cove where they were hoisted on a block and tackle, their livers removed, their fins cut off and their hides skinned out and their flesh cut into strips for salting.When the wind was in the east a smell came across the harbour from the shark factory; but today there was only the faint edge of the odour because the wind had backed into the north and then dropped off and it was pleasant and sunny on the Terrace."Santiago," the boy said."Yes," the old man said. He was holding his glass and thinking of many years ago."Can I go out to get sardines for you for tomorrow?""No. Go and play baseball. I can still row and Rogelio will throw the net.""I would like to go. If I cannot fish with you, I would like to serve in some way.""You bought me a beer," the old man said. "You are already a man.""How old was I when you first took me in a boat?""Five and you nearly were killed when I brought the fish in too green and he nearly tore the boat to pieces. Can you remember?""I can remember the tail slapping and banging and the thwart breaking and the noise of the clubbing. I can remember you throwing me into the bow where the wet coiled lines were and feeling the whole boat shiver and the noise of you clubbing him like chopping a tree down and the sweet blood smell all over me.""Can you really remember that or did I just tell it to you?""I remember everything from when we first went together."The old man looked at him with his sun-burned, confident loving eyes."If you were my boy I'd take you out and gamble," he said. "But you are your father's and your mother's and you are in a lucky boat.""May I get the sardines? I know where I can get four baits too.""I have mine left from today. I put them in salt in the box.""Let me get four fresh ones.""One," the old man said. His hope and his confidence had never gone. But now they were freshening as when the breeze rises."Two," the boy said."Two," the old man agreed. "You didn't steal them?""I would," the boy said. "But I bought these.""Thank you," the old man said. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride."Tomorrow is going to be a good day with this current," he said."Where are you going?" the boy asked."Far out to come in when the wind shifts. I want to be out before it is light.""I'll try to get him to work far out," the boy said. "Then if you hook something truly big we can come to your aid.""He does not like to work too far out.""No," the boy said. "But I will see something that he cannot see such as a bird working and get him to come out after dolphin.""Are his eyes that bad?""He is almost blind.""It is strange," the old man said. "He never went turtle-ing. That is what kills the eyes.""But you went turtle-ing for years off the Mosquito Coast and your eyes are good.""I am a strange old man.""But are you strong enough now for a truly big fish?""I think so. And there are many tricks."Copyright © 1952 by Ernest HemingwayCopyright renewed © 1980 by Mary Hemingway

Bookclub Guide

Reading Group Guide for The Old Man and the Sea Introduction Ernest Hemingway was born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. After graduation from high school, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked briefly for the Kansas City Star. Failing to qualify for the United States Army because of poor eyesight, he enlisted with the American Red Cross to drive ambulances in Italy. He was severely wounded on the Austrian front on July 9, 1918. Following recuperation in a Milan hospital, he returned home and became a freelance writer for the Toronto Star. In December of 1921, he sailed to France and joined an expatriate community of writers and artists in Paris while continuing to write for the Toronto Star. There his fiction career began in "little magazines" and small presses and led to a volume of short stories, In Our Time (1925). His novels The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) established Hemingway as the most important and influential fiction writer of his generation. His later collections of short stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) affirmed his extraordinary career while his highly publicized life gave him unrivaled celebrity as a literary figure. Hemingway became an authority on the subjects of his art: trout fishing, bullfighting, big-game hunting, and deep-sea fishing, and the cultures of the regions in which he set his work -- France, Italy, Spain, Cuba, and Africa. The Old Man and the Sea (1952) earned him the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in his being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954. Hemingway died in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 2, 1961. Description Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman who has not caught a fish for eighty-four days, goes far out to sea in his skiff alone because the young boy Manolin, who has fished with him and served him in the past, is prevented from continuing to do so by his parents, who are convinced that the old man has salao, bad luck. Santiago kills a giant marlin after fighting it for three days, lashes it alongside his skiff, and sails for home only to have his fish attacked by sharks during the night and devoured despite the old man's valiant efforts to kill them or drive them away. The morning after Santiago's return Manolin finds the old man sleeping in his palm shack, cries, brings him coffee, and pledges to replace lost equipment and to fish with him again, for there is much that he can learn. When the boy leaves, the old man is dreaming of lions on a beach which he saw in Africa in his youth from a square-rigged ship. Discussion Questions 1. What is suggested when Manolin says to Santiago that his father "hasn't much faith" (p. 10) but that he, himself, "would like to serve in some way" (p. 12)? Does this offer of Manolin's asking to throw the "cast net" (p. 16) echo the Bible and underscore the boy's respect for Santiago? Why is Santiago so worthy of Manolin's respect? 2. Why is the boy so important to Santiago? Despite his bad luck, Santiago's hope and confidence remain, even "freshening as when the breeze rises" (p. 13) as the boy helps him prepare for his next fishing trip. What does this statement indicate about the role Manolin plays in Santiago's life? Could "the boy" be regarded as a metaphor? How? 3. Like other Hemingway characters, Santiago is very much alone, "beyond all people in the world" (p. 50); yet he says, "No man was ever alone on the sea" (p. 61). Why? Does he feel joined with the creatures and universe or strengthened and sustained by them in any way? Do his dreams of the lions or reflections about his earlier strength support him? 4. Although determined to kill the fish, Santiago says that he loves and respects it, and on the third day of his struggle he says, "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" (p. 92). Is Santiago ennobled by his fight? Does it define his character? 5. How does the story of Santiago confirm the presence of two themes prevalent in Hemingway's fiction: "the undefeated" and "winner take nothing"? Santiago says, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated." Do you agree? Can the novella be read as an allegory, a story with levels of meanings? Is it merely Santiago's story, or our story also? After Reading the Novel The Old Man and the Sea was acknowledged as a masterpiece even before its publication, and Life magazine took the unprecedented step of publishing the entire text in its September, 1, 1953, issue, which sold over 5 million copies in two days. Since its first appearance, the novella has continued to affect readers of all ages profoundly. It has never been out of print. Two film versions of the novella have been produced, the first involving Hemingway's participation, which stars Spencer Tracy, and a more recent version starring Anthony Quinn. In 1999 IMAX is releasing worldwide its animated movie of The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway's Esquire "fictionalized" non-fiction articles (1933-1936): "Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Newsletter" (1933); "Out in the Stream: A Cuban Letter" (1933); and "On the Blue Water: A Gulf Stream Letter" (1936), which contains the old fisherman sketch that was the inspiration for the novella, are available in By-Line: Ernest Hemingway (Touchstone Books). These articles display Hemingway's considerable knowledge of big-game fishing, in particular the marlin, the subjects about which he would write in The Old Man and the Sea.

From Our Editors

By taking on a giant marlin, an old fisherman faces his greatest fears, pulling courage out of defeat and triumph out of loss. This famous story about a Cuban fisherman demonstrates Ernest Hemingway’s fascinatingly direct and simple prose that won him a Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man And The Sea. The classic novella becomes an Imax animated movie in June, 1999, just in time for Hemingway’s centennial.