Book Reviews, The Noble Nobel Project
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The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway


This is a tough one for me mostly because I am forcing myself to write and I haven’t slept for the last 30 hours. I doubt if I can think good enough. My fingers are getting more and more prone to dyslexic typing. Nausea has been threatening me since lunch time and I feel that my head is going to fall off my neck. And yet, I am still trying to write today’s post.

Hey, I just feel like that old man fishing in the sea. Santiago. That’s the name, yes. He kept trying to pull that fish to shore despite the numerous odds running against him. And he somehow succeeded. And the author also succeeded in receiving the Nobel shortly after the publication of this work. Again, I am not sure if this is a novel or a novella. It definitely is not a short story, and since I squirm at the word novella, I’ll just call it a novel.

And I digress again. So why the Nobel, the ultimate literary achievement for a writer, for this work? I know the Nobel is awarded based on all the outputs of the writer, but this work was given special mention. What’s with the old man?

The Rhapsody

I always say that in writing, brevity is a virtue. It’s not something original. Besides, it’s really, really hard to be original these days. Anyway, I do not follow it. This is not to say that I am a writer. When I try to write, when I feel like I am a writer in the deepest sense, I tend to throw in throngs of sentences. I like mine wide and meandering. I find it difficult to express things short and sweet.

This work’s number of words and strength of impact is inversely proportional. The shorter, the better. It must be true in this case; it has always been lauded for it. The author wrote the story of an old man who went out fishing and caught a fish bigger than his boat that dragged him around the sea for days. The fish finally gave up on the old man but sharks started to eat the fish slowly. When the old man finally got back to the shore, there’s nothing really left of the fish.

The old man didn’t ditch fishing from his list of activities. In fact, he went out fishing as soon as he could. And he dreamed of those lions again, a recurring thing that I just took for granted.

So that’s it: man’s display of his indefatigable spirit. Nothing can take him down unless he permits it. The spirit can be as strong as he wills it to be, so in this way, man is capable of transcending all the struggles that are hurled in his way.

3 star - liked itFinal Notes

The author’s suicide is a disappointment. It is unbecoming of the prestigious award that was bestowed upon him. It seems to me that, with that final act, he is not really whom he wrote. The themes that he put in his works, particularly this one, are not his truths, for if they were his own, he would have struggled to survive just like his old Santiago. What do you make out of this then? A huge pretense?

Perhaps that’s his way of putting on an honorable struggle. A lot of people have negative views about suicide, and I am one of them. I am not a fan and I could never understand why someone would want to take his own life away. However, I cannot really judge people attempting suicide or a culture used to suicide because I do not understand or even know what runs inside their heads.

Did the writer catch a glimpse of Santiago’s lions when he pulled the trigger of that shotgun? We can’t tell, and even if science can capture the images inside our heads, his brain must have been splattered everywhere by that bullet, rendering it impossible to piece it again.



  1. What I got out of this story, besides, as you put it, “man’s display of his indefatigable spirit” is that sometimes, in life, no matter how hard you try and no matter how much will you have….things just won’t work the way you want them to. There are things and events that are beyond the control of man…and no I’m not even talking about god or religion. One of the lessons I picked up from this was, you should know when to quit. You should know what your limitations are. Sometimes, what you have and what you are really isn’t enough because there are other factors you have to consider.

    Reminds me of that Kenny Rogers song: “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table, There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”


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