Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea

Synopsis

The last novel Ernest Hemingway saw published, The Old Man and the Sea has proved itself to be one of the enduring works of American fiction. It is the story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Using the simple, powerful language of a fable, Hemingway takes the timeless themes of courage in the face of defeat and personal triumph won from loss and transforms them into a magnificent twentieth-century classic.

Excerpt

Hemingway's greatness is in his short stories, which rival any other master of the form, be it Joyce or Chekhov or Isaak Babel. Of his novels, one is constrained to suggest reservations, even of the very best: The Sun Also Rises. The Old Man and the Sea is the most popular ofHemingway's later works, but this short novel alas is an indeliberate self-parody, though less distressingly so than Across the River and Into the Trees, composed just before it. There is a gentleness, a nuanced tenderness, that saves The Old Man and the Sea from the self-indulgences of Across the River and Into the Trees. In an interview with George Plimpton, Hemingway stated his pride in what he considered to be the aesthetic economy of The Old Man and the Sea:

The Old Man and the Sea could have been over a thousand pages long and had every character in the village in it and all the processes of the way they made their living, were born, educated, bore children, etc. That is done excellently and well by other writers. In writing you are limited by what has already been done satisfactorily. So I have tried to learn to do something else. First I have tried to eliminate everything unnecessary to conveying experience to the reader so that after he or she has read something it will become part of his or her experience and seem actually to have happened. This is very hard to do and I've worked at it very hard.

Anyway, to skip how it is done, I had unbelievable luck this time and could convey the experience completely and have it be one that no one had ever conveyed. The luck was that I had a good man and a good boy and lately writers have forgotten there still are such things. Then the ocean is worth writing about just as a man is. So I was lucky there. I've seen the marlin . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.