The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

In Brief

"I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures." Santiago is the old man of the title, a poor Cuban fisherman who has gone eighty-four days without catching a fish. The other fishermen now call him unlucky, and his great friend, the boy Manolin, has been forbidden from fishing with him any more. On the eighty-fifth day Santiago decides to go farther out than usual, farther than the other fishermen go, in an attempt to find a great fish. On that day he hooks a huge marlin, and the struggle for dominance and survival begins.

Why you should read it

This is a beautifully written, poignant novella, the most popular of all Hemingway's works. When it first appeared in Life magazine, the issue sold 5.3 million copies in just two days. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and was a major contributing factor to Hemingway's Nobel Prize in Literature the following year. It codifies, in the author's gripping, straightforward prose style, the Hemingway worldview: the championing of the human spirit, the essence of which "can be destroyed but not defeated."

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