Yesterday morning found me giving Hemingway one more shot. A Faulkner fan (I did my undergraduate junior thesis on him and the brilliant Absalom, Absalom!), I am not surprisingly of the opinion that Hemingway is overrated. But, a friend and Hemingway scholar who now teaches at Punahou last year gave me a copy of The Old Man and The Sea and told me to read it. So I did–it took about an hour. At the end I thought, well that’s that.
Sure, there are a handful of nice lines, and Santiago’s love of the noble fish he eventually catches is touching. There’s the subtle exploration of the consequences of ambition and the folly of relentlessly pursuing a fight against nature. I guess it comes down to that when I read Hemingway, my reaction is muted. With Faulkner I’m impressed, I’m struck down by metaphor and description and relentless force.
Still, I’ll give The Old Man and The Sea its due here by sharing this lovely passage:
“Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. But imagine if a man each day should have to try and kill the sun? We were born lucky, he thought.” (Scribner, 1995, page 75)