Saturday, June 14, 2014
Sad old men
It seems like Hemingway just liked being a depressing motherfucker. He went through an awful lot in his personal life but it feels like he went out of his way to make his characters into more intense versions of himself - somehow he managed this but I'm still not sure how because Hemingway was a pretty larger-than-life personality all on his own.
So any sadness that Hemingway felt is magnified and reflected back on his reader, which is kind of a dick move from an author who killed himself. Way to make everyone feel suicidal, Ernest.
But, while A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls are condensed misery, Old Man and the Sea is a wonderful, fragile vision of hope.
Everything that everyone had told me about this novella was totally accurate and still fell far short of the truth. It IS the story of an old man fishing, it IS a metaphor for life, it IS beautiful, and it IS sad, but none of those truths do it justice - it's too hard to communicate all of the things that the story is without telling the story as a whole so people use these half-truths to explain it.
Old Man and the Sea is a life stripped of all its weight and value but still noble and fine, still something to be wondered at.
Of all the Hemingway I've read in the last few months this is by far my favorite, and by far the sweetest story that he told.
Hemingway, Ernest. Old Man and the Sea. Barnes and Noble. New York: New York. 2007. (1952).