Genre: Classics, Masculinity, Adventure
Narrative Style: Third person, Chronological
Synopsis: The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of Santiago, an aged fisherman who is having the worst run of luck of his life. It is eighty four days since he has caught a fish. On the eighty fifth day, he catches a huge marlin which pulls him out to sea.
Time on shelf: A long time. I’m not sure where this one came from. I think it may have been my husband’s and so it arrived when we moved in together some 20+ years ago. I have made one attempt to read this – in about 2005 – as it was one the GCSE syllabus – but I failed to finish it. As it is not a long book, this should give you some indication of how much I was enjoying it.
This was one of the first books my husband mentioned when he suggested that he would come up with a reading list for me. He has read it and he really enjoyed it. He wasn’t impressed that I didn’t finish it last time I decided to read it early in the year so that it was out of the way.
So what to say about this book. My main problem is that I wasn’t interested in the story. Partly, I suppose, because the plot of the novel is so well known there wasn’t much tension. I knew he wasn’t going to get the fish home. So there was very little tension. Not that Hemingway can be blamed for this.
I quite enjoyed Hemingway’s pared down style. There is nothing excessive about it. nothing extraneous to the plot. So I think I would like to read another Hemingway novel even though this story didn’t particularly grab me. I also enjoyed the relationship between Santiago and the fish he has caught. He is fully aware of the fish’s power and beauty and as such, treats it with a level of respect you might reserve for another human.
I understand that this is an allegory. The sea represents life. The battle with the fish represents life’s ultimate futility. And so on. Very clever and all but it didn’t make it a more interesting story for me.