What I’m Reading: The Old Man and the Sea
January 22, 2013 2 Comments
The other day I read The Old Man and the Sea. It’s not a long book, though it is still a testament to Hemingway‘s writing that I did not stop or take a break before finishing his beautifully told story. The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of a Cuban fisherman and his epic battle with a gigantic Marlin. Hemingway paces his story expertly and captivates us with a moving tale about the knowledge of self, loneliness and life on the sea. All told with simple, modest language that is free of pretension.
I would urge anyone and everyone to read this book. It is a simple story told by a master. However I have been put off reading Hemingway in the past because of his stories have not particularly interested me. Though when I found out about The Old Man and the Sea I became excited to read not only a book by a modern legend, but also to read a book that ticks a lot of boxes for fiction stories I enjoy. I liked the idea that Hemingway wanted to focus almost exclusively on one central protagonist and explore his psyche, the details of his ailments and how he reacts to the engagement of an immense and powerful foe. What a fascinating pitch.
For me, Hemingway writes this story almost without fault. I found the intermittent baseball references a little distracting, personally they seemed to undermine the scale of the story and appeared a little out of place. However, they are not a huge element of the story and can be easily overlooked for the sake of this title’s other wise staggering achievement in storytelling. It is hard to describe just what it is that makes this book so good for me, if anything I might say that it is subtle power of Hemingway’s words. The way in which we feel like we too are on a boat being piloted by a force greater than ourselves. Like the fisherman tells us, we are only clever, the opponent is stronger, faster and more honourable than us. It is a parable in a parable then, for me, I am the fisherman reading a classic example of writing done well, but no doubt Hemingway see’s himself as the sailor too. The Old Man and the Sea was his last published work and perhaps he was trying to communicate to us his perception of the changing times, of the battle he was facing against an evolving audience, a fight that may not be worth fighting.
My write up seems to be lacking some focus and I feel that may be because I am re-kindling the emotions I felt when reading this book, rather than writing with an objective, clear mind. But maybe that’s better anyway, to try and assure you, whoever is reading this, that this book has the power to move something inside of you with it’s personal yet epic story. It’s beautiful writing will long stay in my mind and I can only hope that it will do the same for you.