Monday, March 31, 2008


Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 99
Reason for Reading : Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time Challenge

The fable of an old fisherman and a young boy set in the Gulf stream off the coast of Havana. The old man has not caught any big fish in 84 days and is fast approaching his previous record of 87 days without a big catch. The people of the town have lost faith in his luck and ability. He was training a young boy who was a big helo to him, but his parents moved him to another boat that is catching fish. The young boy loves the old man and continues to care for him and help him where he can.

On the 85th day the fisherman sets off further from the shore than the other fishermen, following a large bird who is clearly huntiong large fish. He hooks a massive fish and from there battles to tire it and bring it closer to his boat to kill. The old man is pained, tired and hungry as the battle continues over a couple of days until the noble fish eventually tires and is killed. The old man has to lash him to the side of the boat as it is larger than his vessle. The reader has a sense of relief that the old man survived, but the problems are not yet over. The blood of the fish from the harpoon wound attracts shark who are all hungry for some of the dead fish. By the time the old man finally returns to port he has only the tail, spine and head of the eighteen foot long fish to show for his pains as well as something that has broken inside of him.

A beautifully crafted and told tale which won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I got swept away in this short tale and experienced the time on the little boat with the old man. I saw him return through the eyes of the boy, knowing that this is likely to be his last large catch. The old man was very brave taking on so many sharks on his return to the shore, despite losing his weapons along the way. I will definitely be reading more by Hemingway in the future.

6 comments:

Andi said...

You're a better person than I! LOL I actually read this one as a 9th grader and HATED it. In fact, it turned me off of Hemingway for years--until I read A Moveable Feast as a college student. However, I have to wonder, if I read The Old Man and the Sea again as an adult, would the experience be different? Maybe I'll do that one of these days.

Literary Feline said...

I really need to find my way back to Hemmingway. I've read a couple of his books and really enjoyed them. I love his writing style, although I know for many it's a turn off. This does sound good. Thanks for the great review.

Nymeth said...

For some reason I've always been a bit suspicious of this book, but your review makes me want to give it a try.

Kim L said...

I've always pretty much shied away from Hemingway, although your review does make it sound interesting. Perhaps, perhaps I could tackle this one.

Kailana said...

I hated this book! Words can not express how much! I probably should give it another try, but... I HATED this book.

Rhinoa said...

Andi - Maybe as I wasn't forced to read it at school is why I liked it?

Literary Feline - Luckily I really liked his writing style too and do hope to read more in the future.

Nymeth - I hadn't read any reviews positive or negative before reading this which probably helped as the comments here have been so mixed. All you can do is try and as it's only 99 pages it won't take you long to read.

Kim - Like I said it's only 99 pages so is a good introduction to his work.

Kailana - What did you hate about it? Everything?