Monday, December 12, 2016

Review: The Old Man and the Sea

I'll admit to never having read The Old Man and the Sea, or actually, any of Hemingway's work before this. Since it was a short book and easily available at my library as an eBook, I checked it out and read it.

I think this is one of those classics that don't necessarily age well. Compared to his contemporaries, Hemingway had a refreshingly direct prose style that was transparent. However, most modern prose writers have also adopted this style (which is a good indicator of how influential he was). As a result, while the style is easy to read and direct, that doesn't make the book stand out.

The plot is very predictable, and again, doesn't stand out in this day and age either. While I did finish the book, it was out of a sense of obligation, not because I wanted to know more (I felt like I already knew what would happen by the end of the novel, and I turned out to be right). Sure, there's a ton of symbolism, statements about man's hubris and ambition, and the trials of age. But I'm not sure there's anything there that isn't in a Richard K. Morgan novel, with at least a less predictable plot.

Now, compared to the boring crap assigned to me as literature in high school English classes (is there a more boring Shakespeare play than The Merchant of Venice?), I would have way preferred this book. But compared to what I usually read for fun? This just doesn't compare.

This won't keep me from reading more Hemingway, but doesn't leave me dying for more prose from him, either.

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