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March 22, 2010

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

The tale of an aged Cuban fisherman, a young boy and a giant fish. A luckless fisherman sets sail day in, day out, coming home empty-handed for eighty-four straight days. But he never gives up hope, and the young boy always keeps the faith. On the eighty-fifth day he ventures out alone and hooks a giant marlin. After a battle of wits in which the fisherman emerges victorious, drained of all energy having survived a canny game lasting a couple of days and nights, he lashes the fish to his boat and starts out on the return journey, buoyed by the thought of what the fish will fetch at market.

Only the sharks have other ideas, and by the time the old fisherman reaches home port, they have ripped the marlin to its bare bones. The fisherman retires dead tired to his bed and falls into a deep sleep. He has again returned empty-handed, but this time having fought a valiant battle with a worthy opponent and the catch of his life.

This short story ultimately led to Hemingway’s receipt of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A classic short story. An epic battle of wills.

James’ out-of-five star rating: ***

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