Saturday, April 07, 2007

Vargas Llosa on "The Old Man and the Sea "

Mario Vargas Llosa has an interesting essay on Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea in the Guardian.

It opens:
The story of The Old Man and the Sea seems very simple: after 84 days without any success, an old fisherman manages to catch a giant fish after a titanic struggle of two and a half days. He ties it to his skiff, but loses it the next day, in a no less heroic combat, to the jaws of the voracious sharks of the Caribbean. This is a classic motif in Ernest Hemingway's fictions: a man is caught up in a fight to the finish with an implacable adversary, after which, no matter whether he wins or loses, he achieves a greater sense of pride and dignity, becomes a better human being. But in none of his earlier novels and stories does this recurrent theme find as perfect an expression as in this tale, written in Cuba in 1951, with a limpid style, an impeccable structure, and a wealth of allusions and meanings to rival his best novels. He won the Pulitzer prize for it in 1953 and also the Nobel prize in 1954.

The apparent clarity of The Old Man and the Sea is deceptive, like certain biblical parables or Arthurian legends that, beneath their simplicity, contain complex religious and ethical allegories, historical references and psychological subtleties. As well as being a beautiful and moving fiction, this tale is also a representation of the human condition, according to Hemingway's vision. And, to some extent, it was also a resurrection for its author.
Read on....

Last year, N.M. Kelby made the case here on the blog that The Old Man and the Sea is the Great Florida Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue