- Title: The Old Man and the Sea
- Author: Ernest Hemingway
- Genre: Literary Fiction, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner for the year 1953
- Average Rating on Goodreads: 3.68 stars out of 5
- Average Rating on Amazon: 4.4 stars out of 5
- Movie Adaptation: The Old Man and the Sea starring Spencer Tracy.
- Year of Publication: 1952
The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel written by Ernest Hemingway in 1952. It was Hemingway’s last major works of fiction to be published in his lifetime. The story is about an aging Cuban fisherman Santiago, who is deemed ‘salão’ or extremely unlucky and who ventures out into the sea in the Gulf Stream and how the things take a turn one after the other. Though Hemingway maintains that Santiago’s character was based on nobody in particular, many believe that the character is heavily influenced by Gregorio Fuentes, the first mate of Hemingway’s boat.
The story opens with a beautiful portrayal of the mentor-mentee relationship between Santiago and Manolin, who cares for him and visits him every day and assures him that his 84-day long luckless streak will soon come to an end. Manolin’s parents have forbidden him to sail with Santiago, once known as Santiago El Campeón ( Santiago the Champion for his strength and now considered extremely jinxed by one and all, and yet his affection for Santiago remains unchanged. On the 85th day of his unlucky stretch, Santiago sails out into the sea and what happened next, makes me pity and respect Santiago in equal amounts. I won’t get into the details as it will give away the plot for the ones yet to read this.
To be honest, this book was one of the toughest books for me to complete and while I know that I cannot keep my patience with classics, my mind was stuck on this book even when I took a break from reading this one. But my patience was rewarded and the protagonist, old and wise Santiago, is someone you can look up to develop into when one will be graying rapidly. As a rule, I don’t go finding faults in classics when I review them and therefore, I will not dare criticize this one. The book is peppered with Spanish slangs and references and in my humble opinion, it only adds to the charm. The book is dotted with anecdotes by the old man appropriate to his wisdom and old age.
I will conclude my review with one of my favorite quotes
“Keep warm old man,” the boy said. “Remember we are in September.”
“The month when the great fish come,” the old man said. “Anyone can be a fisherman in May.”
I love the way this draws a parallel with Old Age. Anyone can make things work out in youth ( fishing is easy in May), but it takes the wisdom and the experience of old age to get things done gracefully in the later years ( bag a big catch in September).
- My Rating: 4 stars out 5
- Recommendation: Pick it up and be armed with a strong dose of patience. But the takeaway and the end is worth spending the time.