“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
I read this last Summer, but the review somehow slipped through my fingers. I realised this recently and wanted to rectify that mistake, fore this is a book that is a joy to talk about.
The Old Man and the Sea is a beautiful story contained within 100 pages that made me feel humbled and mesmerised at the same time. Hemingway's prose is just once again incredibly smooth and languid, allowing the character development and scenes of conflict to unravel perfectly. It was written in 1952 and was apparently very progressive given the period, having a huge impact on how literature would be crafted in the future. I have not looked into this enough to know the details, but I imagine this is one of the many reasons Hemingway is such a celebrated literary figure.
The Old Man and the Sea serves as a literal story on one level, as well as crafting an extended metaphor where Santiago’s isolation and loneliness is symbolised by the sea.
The majority of this tale emerges from one specific fishing escapade where The Old Man struggles to capture a giant marlin, which would be the most impressive catch of his experienced life. During the days the proceed in this great conflict, Santiago enters a dream like state that causes a tangential stream of consciousness that we as the reader follow.
“No one should be alone in their old age, he thought.”
Again, as I said in my review of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway has a really wonderful prose that exudes an almost mythical quality that mirrors the strain of the mind his protagonist faces.
Throughout this novella, Santiago faces all kinds of tribulations, on a physical and mental standing. He loses many. But what makes him such an endearing and beautiful character is his indomitable spirit.
“But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
The Old Man and the Sea says a lot about human nature, and about the grim realities of life. The Old Man is shown to have lost a lot, but he knows that that will only become more extreme if he loses his optimism. Despite recent failures in fishing and his now lonely lifestyle, he continues and presses on. It reminds us as the reader of the fickle nature of life, but also the importance of resilience, even if failure is inevitable.