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The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

3.9 519
by Ernest Hemingway, Frank Muller (Narrated by)

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The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal — a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme


The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal — a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Product Details

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 2 cassettes, 165 minutes

Read an Excerpt

from The Old Man and the Sea

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.

Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.

"Santiago," the boy said to him as they climbed the bank from where the skiff was hauled up. "I could go with you again. We've made some money."

The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him.

"No," the old man said. "You're with a lucky boat. Stay with them."

"But remember how you went eighty-seven days without fish and then we caught big ones every day for three weeks."

"I remember," the old man said. "I know you did not leave me because you doubted."

"It was papa made me leave. I am a boy and I must obey him."

"I know," the old man said. "It is quite normal."

"He hasn't much faith."

"No," the old man said. "But we have. Haven't we?"

"Yes," the boy said. "Can I offer you a beer on the Terrace and then we'll take the stuff home."

"Why not?" the old man said. "Between fishermen."

They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen, looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen. The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice truck to carry them to the market in Havana. Those who had caught sharks had taken them to the shark factory on the other side of the cove where they were hoisted on a block and tackle, their livers removed, their fins cut off and their hides skinned out and their flesh cut into strips for salting.

When the wind was in the east a smell came across the harbour from the shark factory; but today there was only the faint edge of the odour because the wind had backed into the north and then dropped off and it was pleasant and sunny on the Terrace.

"Santiago," the boy said.

"Yes," the old man said. He was holding his glass and thinking of many years ago.

"Can I go out to get sardines for you for tomorrow?"

"No. Go and play baseball. I can still row and Rogelio will throw the net."

"I would like to go. If I cannot fish with you, I would like to serve in some way."

"You bought me a beer," the old man said. "You are already a man."

"How old was I when you first took me in a boat?"

"Five and you nearly were killed when I brought the fish in too green and he nearly tore the boat to pieces. Can you remember?"

"I can remember the tail slapping and banging and the thwart breaking and the noise of the clubbing. I can remember you throwing me into the bow where the wet coiled lines were and feeling the whole boat shiver and the noise of you clubbing him like chopping a tree down and the sweet blood smell all over me."

"Can you really remember that or did I just tell it to you?"

"I remember everything from when we first went together."

The old man looked at him with his sun-burned, confident loving eyes.

"If you were my boy I'd take you out and gamble," he said. "But you are your father's and your mother's and you are in a lucky boat."

"May I get the sardines? I know where I can get four baits too."

"I have mine left from today. I put them in salt in the box."

"Let me get four fresh ones."

"One," the old man said. His hope and his confidence had never gone. But now they were freshening as when the breeze rises.

"Two," the boy said.

"Two," the old man agreed. "You didn't steal them?"

"I would," the boy said. "But I bought these."

"Thank you," the old man said. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.

"Tomorrow is going to be a good day with this current," he said.

"Where are you going?" the boy asked.

"Far out to come in when the wind shifts. I want to be out before it is light."

"I'll try to get him to work far out," the boy said. "Then if you hook something truly big we can come to your aid."

"He does not like to work too far out."

"No," the boy said. "But I will see something that he cannot see such as a bird working and get him to come out after dolphin."

"Are his eyes that bad?"

"He is almost blind."

"It is strange," the old man said. "He never went turtle-ing. That is what kills the eyes."

"But you went turtle-ing for years off the Mosquito Coast and your eyes are good."

"I am a strange old man."

"But are you strong enough now for a truly big fish?"

"I think so. And there are many tricks."

Copyright © 1952 by Ernest Hemingway
Copyright renewed © 1980 by Mary Hemingway

Meet the Author

Ernest Hemingway did more to influence the style of English prose than any other writer of his time. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established him as one of the greatest literary lights of the 20th century. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He died in 1961.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
July 21, 1899
Date of Death:
July 2, 1961
Place of Birth:
Oak Park, Illinois
Place of Death:
Ketchum, Idaho

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The Old Man and the Sea 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 519 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Old Man and the Sea

The old man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, a story just over 100 pages in length is about an experienced Cuban fisherman in the Gulf and the giant Marlin he kills and loses. The fisherman, named Santiago, has gone over 2 months without catching any fish at all. On his 85th day at sea, his bait attracts a very large fish, which he believes to be a Marlin. He tries to reel the fish in but instead the fish drags his boat around and for two days the man struggles to keep his catch. On the third day, the Marlin finally stops dragging the boat and the old fisherman kills him. Santiago straps the fish to his boat and heads home. The trip home is not what Santiago desired and neither is the outcome but the way the story is told the ending is one that is not all bad.

I e njoyed this story very much and it took me a very short time to finish, not because of the length, but also because of the content. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read that does not drag itself out whatsoever. This short novel is fierce, full of vibrant energy and humanity, all the while being a slave to the realities of finite power, of the inability to struggle against something greater than you. Of course, this is the standard "man against nature" story, but it is told so well that it rings true. This story won Hemingway the Nobel Prize and there is no doubt as to why. The simplicity of the story mixed with the complexity of the character development and the symbolism that is shown, defines what is necessary to create a successful work.
NLKD More than 1 year ago
Written in such detail, you can see every moment play out beautifully. I felt like I was sitting right there with the old man during his struggle. Very emotional connection to the character.
deacon_blues More than 1 year ago
It is fitting that this was the last book published by Hemingway in his lifetime: while he was still in his early fifties when wrote and published the novella to great success, the book works perfectly as the final work of a great writer and man, with reflections on life and the dignity of man at the twilight of his life. The prose is as precise and engaging as you can expect from Hemingway, in my opinion the great master of prose in the 20th century. This novella might be the perfect introduction to Hemingway to a novice reader of literature and I plan to read the story to my kids. I think it is beautiful, moving and is a great tale of perseverance, courage and humility in the figure of the heroic fisherman Santiago. The beautiful frienship between the old man and the boy is also touching as an example of gratitude and brotherly love. In short, you find the best of the human spirit in full display on this book - in most of his other books, Hemingway dwelled (with brilliance) on much darker sides of life (and death) but this one is a celebration of the best in all of us. The depiction of the natural world is breathtaking in its precision and energy and we know that Hemingway truly knew and loved the Gulf Stream and its creatures, big and small. Much has been said about this book and I would like to comment on the specific edition: it has quite a few drawings illustrating the characters (including the awesome big fish!)and action on the book and it is a nice touch. For this, I highly recommend this edition of this short but rewarding masterpiece of a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Old Man and the Sea is a great example of American literature at its height. It is a quick and easy read -- only about 130 pages. Hemingway's writing style allows the story to flow throughout the pages without any chapter interruptions. This book is great to read at any time. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Hemingway or 20th century American literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love reading just about everything, but especially the classics. I enjoy everything from Shakespeare to Tolstoy to Asimov. However this is the ONLY book I've reread. Over the past 25 years I've probably read this book 15 times. This book is the epitome of Hemingway's "less is more" style. I love the depth achieved with so few words. I'll be reading this one over and over for the rest of my life.
Thegodfather More than 1 year ago
By far Ernest Hemingway's best story ever written.
KristopherMark More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy a good read with simple style, then pick up this book. It makes you think about what kinds of things are worth fighting for and what kinds of things mean the most to us.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I have not read this book since I was 12, but it always stuck in my mind. After this rereading I remembered exactly why this storm made such an impression on me.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I love this book. It is a one of a kind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best novels of the 20th century by Hemingway. A quick and easy read with vivid words painting a portrait of Hemingway's characters and stage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That was amazingly dull.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, I now know the ending from one of the reviews. Just because you might not like the book doesn't mean you should ruin it for others. Please don't give up the ending in a review.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The old man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway is a story about a Cuban fisherman named Santiago, who has been fishing for months but haven’t caught one fish. However, he does not get angry that he has not caught one fish because he knows that he will soon catch one. This is a good book for all ages of readers because it is an interesting book and it is easy to understand. I recommend this book to anyone who goes fishing because it shows you that patient is the key to fishing. For example, you might not catch anything for 84 straight days like Santiago did, but if you wait long enough you will catch that fish of your life time. Santiago went out every day, because he knew there was something out there. Even where everybody in town though he was the most unlucky, craziest old man in town. But on Santiago 85th straight day of fishing, he finally caught the fish he has been waiting for. He waited for the Marlin to take the bait and swallow the hook. He knew that if the fish swallowed the hook it would not have spit it like all his other fish did. While Santiago is fighting the Marlin for three days, the marlin is also pulling him out to sea. After three days of trying to get the fish to the boat, he gets it and starts to head back home. The old man in the seas such a good book it has got special recognition in the citizen accompanying Hemingway’s Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, and it is still one of the most popular works today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been wanting to read this story ever since I read a Vince Flynn Mitch Rapp series book. One of the characters in Flynn's book was very taken with Hemingway and that made me realize that I had never read anything by one of the greatest American authors. So I bought his and wow WHAT A READ IT WAS!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kayleyjoz More than 1 year ago
I'll be completely honest. I fell asleep whilst reading this. I rarely fall asleep during anything. That's a sign, if anything else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The-Reviewer More than 1 year ago
When talking about literature and especially American literature two names always pop up - Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway. So when I grabbed this book I wanted to see all the hype. I'm a big fan of the classics so I'm familiar with old novels and doing a little research sometimes to understand the era. It's a short read though and not a very complicated book to wrap your head around. I thought maybe he would talk about some social issue like To Kill a Mocking Bird, or lament about life like in Of Mice and Men, or complain about social hierarchy, wealth, and class like in Grapes of Wrath or Atlas Shrugged. But no. Hemingway wasn't really like a lot of these authors. In fact, I just read an article about him in Maxim being celebrated for drinking 12 daquiri's in one day. He definitely seems to be the manly persona and it's strange that he would even become an author, since most are so introverted. Yet, the personal struggle with hope, and age, and not giving up are all present in this book. This is the only work I've read of him so I can't really compare it to anything else. But it's a quick read and you don't really need to read it next to a dictionary. Great for summer or the beach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago