Top positive review
A Masterpiece. A True Masterpiece.
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2016
A Love Story. Yes, A Love Story. But not what you may be thinking...
It is about the love between the 'Old Man' (Santiago) and a young boy, his protege, his apprentice, his beloved companion, and about the boys love for him, too.
And if love is also 'committment,' as it surely is, this, too, is what this book is about...The 'old man's' commitment to break his streak of 84 days without a catch. His willingness to to row way, way, way out, way beyond where any of the other fishermen were toiling...and to do this by himself, alone.
And it's also about his love of (commitment to) fishing and, yes, his love of the 18' marlin (over one thousand pounds) that he caught, and with whom he dialogues throughout this wonderful tale..AND dialogues with him even after he had killed him, and, then, finally his ferocious committment to preserve the fallen fish, now dead, from the sharks that relentlessly tore into its carcass.
This is also a book about nobility, about singleness of purpose, about purity of heart and bravery, endurance, and about friendship....about the love of the 'old man' for the boy, and of the boys love for the 'old man.'
For Hemingway, who wrote 'The Old Man' when he was in his early 50's, this book was, I believe, a plaint, a cry about beauty, and about man at his best, and about good fortune and bad fortune, and about loss and sadness, and, in the end, about emptiness.
This book is a treasure of dialogue...dialogue between the man and the boy that is exquisite, but even more, much more exquisite, about the dialogue between the man and himself, his reveries, and also between the man and his fish, the huge marlin, both when the fish was living and when he was dead.
The Old Man and the Sea is artistry, pure artistry at its greatest, nary a spare word, never complicated...always lucid, aways compressed, transparent, pure. I have read that Hemingway labored over each and every word, each and every phrase, and edited and re-edited it endlessly.
Only 127 pages, it is an easy read that bears periodic rereading...For this review, I have read it twice, and listened to it on tape twice...and I had read it before when I was in college in the late 1950's.
Hemingway died about 9 years after this book was published...In some ways, The Old Man and the Sea can be considered his last and final testament...and what a beauty it is...A true treasure. And, of course, it did win both a Nobel and a Pulitzer...
Finally, I don't want or mean to suggest or imply that this book is 'heavy.' Anything but...It catches perfectly the 'lightness of being' in it's descriptions of the weather, the processes of fishing, and the Old Man's love for baseball and Joe DiMaggio, and his arm wresting with a huge black man in Havana...In short, this book is also fun...