I’m sometimes scared to comment on about books like The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway is iconic and this, one of his most famous novels, is canonical. What could I possibly say about it that hasn’t been said before?
Reading it, one might be surprised at how it has attracted such acclaim, not least a Nobel Prize for Hemingway. The story is not complex. It really does do what it says on the tin: it’s about an old fisherman taking his boat out from Havana to sea, to capture an immense fish. That’s basically it.
I think that it’s the simplicity that sets this novel apart though. It reads like a fable, parable or even a biblical story at times. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons it attracts so many interpretations and engages such a wide audience. It feels fundamental, getting right to the core of human experience.
But literary criticism aside, I’ll just say that I loved it. It made me happy to read something so beautifully written. It is short and perfectly formed- a real exercise in ‘less is more’. A simple, accessible classic that is moving and relatable. Even despite my lack of fishing experience.
Read: On the shore, looking out at the sea