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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 The wolves will comeI started this in high spirits as my updates show fifth re read, how thrilling it is to plumb new depths in old wells of wisdom But, as I read on towards the last few pages, I couldn t shake the feeling that this is Moby Dick set in an alternate universe.In this alternate universe The Giant Leviathan is a noble, unseen fish steady and without malice.Captain Ahab is transformed into a gentle, wise old zen master Santiago a humble fisherman with no legendary crew to command and only his frail body instead of a Pequod to do his bidding.Ishmael is a young boy, who instead of being a end is nigh Nostradamus is a loving, weeping young boy who cares deeply about the world.Queequeg is probably the dolphin which was the old man s only hope against his foe, his brother.Now Moby Dick for me was the grand struggle of an obsessed genius with his destiny in fact, about the creative struggle it proves that life is a tragedy and in the grand conclusion, you go down with a mighty confrontation and your ambitions take you down to the depths of the sea no trace left of either you or your grand dreams except a mist of madness propagated as a half heard story.This was profound and it moved me to tears but it was still grand, was it not The great struggle, the titanic battle and the heroic capitulation It was operatic and it was uplifting even amidst the tragedy, the mighty bellow of man s cry in the face of the unconquerable that gave me goosebumps.But Hemingway and his Old Man has turned the story on its head It takes you beyond the happily ever after of Moby Dick and as always those unchartered waters are beyond description This alternate universe is much cruel and much real There is no grand confrontation that ends in an inspirational tragedy It turns it into a battle of attrition you are inevitably defeated even in success and life will wear you down and leave no trace of your ambitions It makes you battle to the last breaking point of every nerve and sinew and lets you win a hollow victory that you cannot celebrate as life has worn you out too much in your pursuit of your goals and the destiny, the destiny too now seems and unreal and you ask yourself if you were even worthy enough to start the battle.And as you turn back after that jaded victory, then comes the sharks, inevitably, inexorably And then begins the real battle, not the grand epic, but a doomed, unenthusiastic battle against reality with the knowledge that no grand ambition can ever succeed And the old man tells it for you I never should have gone out that far The alternate universe is depressing and it is Zen at the same time, I do not know how I probably have to read this many times before any hope, any secret light in it comes to illuminate me for today, for this reading, Hemingway has depressed me beyond belief and I cannot remember how I always thought of this as an inspirational fable The scene in which the restaurant lady sees the bones of the once great fish sums it up for me In the end you give up hope of success and only wish that at the very least you might be able to bring back a ghost of the fish so that people can see how great your target really was but all they see is the almost vanished skeleton of your idea your grand dreams are just so much garbage now and who will have the imagination to see the grandeur it had at its conception They beat me, Manolin, he said They truly beat me He didn t beat you Not the fish No Truly It was afterwards. Worst book ever.Just throw the fucking fish back in Fuck. Oh, my good lord in heaven Cut your line, land your boat and go to McDonald s Just as in the case of The Great Gatsby, I understand the book Yes, I know it changed the way American writers write I also understand that it celebrates the ridiculous American idea that you re only a REAL man if you ve done something entirely purposeless, but really dangerous, in pursuit of making yourself look like the bull with the biggest sexual equipment Get over it, already Go home and clean out the refrigerator, or wash the curtains, or vacuum under the furniture Pick your kids up from school or take your daughter bra shopping THAT would impress me Being too dumb to cut your fishing line Not the mate I would pickThe only bright spot about the book is if you think of it on a metaphorical level there is a point at which ALL of us must grit our teeth and hold on in the face of despair That is the definition of life However, if that s the point, then the plot situation needs to be one of necessity like the shipwreck in Life of Pi , instead of stubbornness It s been a while since I wrote this review, and there s a lot of amusing speculation in the comments people have attached I have to say, they crack me up Here s my final word on reviewing on Goodreads or anywhere One of the most important elements of reading is that it allows each of us to react in the way we need to react, without judgment, as we experience the book This is how I reacted to The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway is dead, or I wouldn t have been so up front with my opinion He s not insulted, I understand that we all need goals in life, and I ve been happily married for a LONG time Now take a deep breath and smile Life is too short to be anxious about picayune stuff like this. I read this as a young man and was disappointed It didn t work for me I thought it was about a crazy old man gone off the reservation, picking a fight with an innocent fish while ranting about the New York Yankees I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing They say his father was a fisherman.I picked it up again, after the passage of some years, and found it incredibly poignant It s a simple story There s an old man, Santiago, who is a fisherman fallen on hard times He is cared for by a young boy, Manolin, who no longer works on his boat Santiago goes into the Gulf and engages in the fight of his life with a giant marlin What follows is a dream like, stream of conscious meditation as the old man matches strength and wits with the great fish After 84 days of no fish, Santiago takes his skiff far out to sea He drops his line and hooks a marlin He can t pull it in, so he takes hold of the line, beginning the back and forth when the marlin runs, he gives the line slack when the marlin is still, he pulls the line in The old man s hands are cut by the rope His muscles strain He has no food or water Yet he doesn t give up The obsession has shades of Moby Dick, except at the end of this novel, I didn t feel the need to dig up Melville and punch him in the skull I have never seen or heard of such a fish But I must kill him I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought The moon runs away Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity I do not understand these things, he thought But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.Eventually, the marlin is hauled in and killed The old man attaches him to the boat, and begins to row towards shore Of course, the marlin is dripping blood, so if you ve seen Jaws or read James and the Giant Peach, you can imagine that his dreams of hitting it big with this fish are probably not going to come to pass Age teaches you a lot of things You start to realize that you might never be the person you thought you d be as a child Days go by, you start to lose and gain less I thought about this as I thought about the old man, raging like Dylan Thomas against the night an old man nearing the end of his days fighting against nature, time, death, a fish, able to boil all things down into one climatic struggle on the high seas At the end, he did not succeed, at least not in the manner he d foreseen, but he was, in an inimitable way, victorious You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him Or is it