I was quite inspired by this tale. So my Goodreads review became a bit of a blogpost…
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Two mornings ago I headed out on a fishing trip; not unlike Santiago. Rather than take what I was reading at that time, I chose to equip myself with this tale I’d picked up a while back while browsing in the local bookshop. Not having any pretext other than that this particular story contributed to Hemingway’s Nobel Prize, I felt sure it would inspire me by the campfire and ready me for my first cast the next morning. I was not wrong.
This is a tale I could not put down. Only sleep prevented me finishing it. On one level, Santiago’s battles with his great nemesis reminded me of my own smaller but no less memorable tussles with hard fighting fish. On another, it cast my mind toward thoughts of life’s trials and tribulations. I likened the stages (because there are no chapters) of this story to perhaps the building of a career or venture to its pinnacle, only to then be left with questions about its success and one’s own failings. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I read into it towards its end.
Afterwards, I had a quick scan of its literary criticisms to find other allegories drawn out of it. Religion and otherness being prominent, but no mention of life and career. So I wonder if my interpretation is something only for me. My reading of it is probably in part about where I see my life and career today and where it is headed. I am, I think, about to hook that big fish after many days without a bite. Yet, I am dreading the circling of the sharks after I have wrestled my own catch. With this being Hemingway’s final work of fiction, perhaps he had similar thoughts. Toward the end of his career he had, by the time of writing this, caught many a great fish. Perhaps by then he was being circled by his metaphorical sharks. Yet I hope, like Santiago, he was not deterred, and found the resolve to return to the sea.
It’s funny, but I’m reading Hemingway’s later work first. He seemed filled with contemplation on his earlier epic adventures, as I suppose we all would be. This book reignited my interest in him. I am keen to read on, and will soon set sail again myself. Which Hemingway shall I read next?