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Old 03-15-2018, 09:44 AM   #31
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I think it is a good accounting of how even though a task is "impossible" it should still be attempted even if it doesn't necessarily have the desired outcome.

For JSWolf it was the method of fishing that took him from the story. What took me from it was a small thing. I don't think dolphins have gills with them being a mammal, it took me a while to get back into the story after that.
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:03 AM   #32
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For JSWolf it was the method of fishing that took him from the story. What took me from it was a small thing. I don't think dolphins have gills with them being a mammal, it took me a while to get back into the story after that.
I had to look that one up too, apparently the dolphins in this case were actually a kind of fish (mahi-mahi) but he was using the local word for them rather than English. Here's one article on it. The porpoises are what we expect of porpoises though.
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:30 AM   #33
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I had to look that one up too, apparently the dolphins in this case were actually a kind of fish (mahi-mahi) but he was using the local word for them rather than English. Here's one article on it. The porpoises are what we expect of porpoises though.
Thanks, thought I might have missed something.
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:52 PM   #34
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I had to look that one up too, apparently the dolphins in this case were actually a kind of fish (mahi-mahi) but he was using the local word for them rather than English. Here's one article on it. The porpoises are what we expect of porpoises though.
But because we don't know this, we see what's written. This really should have been corrected by Hemmingway's editor.
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Old 03-15-2018, 02:00 PM   #35
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I gave it 2 stars. Pseudo modern prose, but it was a bit off. The style of writing was too elusive for my taste. But I don't regret it, and I look forward to reading more winners from the upcoming months.
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Old 03-15-2018, 02:47 PM   #36
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Newsflash: Words that mean one thing here and now mean different things there and then.

Calling the fish "dolphin" made me pause for a second but it wasn't enough to stop my enjoyment of things. I could tell from context that he was talking about a fish, not a mammal, and therefore must be using the word in a way I was not familiar with. Given that I know next to nothing about Cuba, the language or the culture, and that the book is almost 70 years old, I expected to find words that I wasn't familiar with or used in unusual (to me) ways, so it wasn't a problem for me to get past that.

Wondering about Jon's editor comment, I did some further digging. It turns out that mahi-mahi, or the "common dolphinfish" is commonly called just "dolphin" or "dorado" and, furthermore, it is only a recent change to the name to even call them "dolphinfish", they were originally just called dolphins.
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The origin of the name "dolphinfish" is recent, to avoid confusion with dolphins, as the traditional name of the fish was also dolphin.
This certainly doesn't appear to be an editorial mistake. Just changes to our language over the last 70 years.

References: 1, 2
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:44 PM   #37
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Newsflash: Words that mean one thing here and now mean different things there and then.

Calling the fish "dolphin" made me pause for a second but it wasn't enough to stop my enjoyment of things. I could tell from context that he was talking about a fish, not a mammal, and therefore must be using the word in a way I was not familiar with. Given that I know next to nothing about Cuba, the language or the culture, and that the book is almost 70 years old, I expected to find words that I wasn't familiar with or used in unusual (to me) ways, so it wasn't a problem for me to get past that.

Wondering about Jon's editor comment, I did some further digging. It turns out that mahi-mahi, or the "common dolphinfish" is commonly called just "dolphin" or "dorado" and, furthermore, it is only a recent change to the name to even call them "dolphinfish", they were originally just called dolphins.

This certainly doesn't appear to be an editorial mistake. Just changes to our language over the last 70 years.

References: 1, 2
When did it change? I've always heard of Dolphin meaning what it does now and that's more than 1/2 the life of the book. So it cannot be all that recent.
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:26 PM   #38
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If I had to name a single date I would say August 14, 1963.

Seriously though, I can't find an exact date and there almost certainly isn't a single date. It sounds like in some groups they are still simply referred to as "dolphin". (1)

The guess that makes the most sense to me is that it started changing with the change in status of whales and dolphins. Prior to the 1960s (+/-) whaling and catching dolphins didn't have the taboo it now has; whaling was still legal until 1986. Dolphins (mammal) were often caught with other commercial fish and either processed or wasted.

When humanity started paying more attention to and caring about our relatives in the seas (see link above) it probably became more important to distinguish between "dolphin" the fish and "dolphin" the mammal. Especially for commercial fishers and restaurateurs who don't want to offend people by letting them think they were catching and serving Flipper for dinner.
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Old 03-15-2018, 06:31 PM   #39
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I've read this twice now. Both in the last couple of weeks. Basically I read it once at the beginning of the month, but because it was such a short book and I've read a few books in between I thought I'd re-read it so it was fresh in my memory.

Although I knew the book was a classic and that there was a movie, I didn't know the story. It was pretty obvious what was going to happen although I did wonder if after he brought the fish home he'd die.

So I hoped that after I read it the first time the second I'd be able to savour the language and imagery a bit more. TBH though it took a bit of effort to get into again*. By the end I did though.

I don't think it's ever going to be one of my absolute favourites but it is a good book and very well written.

I didn't see it as being about love. I thought it was more a metaphor for life. A musing on how it's the struggle against inevitable defeat that defines us. Also it paints that defeat, if fought against consistently, as a kind of victory. Conversely to not fight, to give up, is to die:

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What will you do now if they come in the night? What can you do? “Fight them,” he said. “I’ll fight them until I die.” But in the dark now and no glow showing and no lights and only the wind and the steady pull of the sail he felt that perhaps he was already dead.
It's also about a certain ideal of manliness which is somewhat old-fashioned today but not completely extinct as an idea. A man defining himself by what he does (Fisherman) and therefore refusing to give it up past possibly the point of reasonableness.

I guess I'm old enough to have a little of those type of values instilled in me, and even though I am a bookish computer programmer with no aptitude for anything outdoorsy, I am fascinated by the Old Man's thoughts. It's interesting for example that on his way out, he thinks,

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It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.
but by the end he is fantasizing about being able to buy luck. The idea that he's in conflict with his own left hand, and laterly even with his own thoughts, is striking too. It's as if anything that gets in the way of his goal, even parts of himself, is to be fought, mocked or repudiated.

His single-mindedness can be seen as foolish, especially if you do not like his goal, but it's also hard not to admire it. There's also an almost spiritual side to it:

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It is silly not to hope, he thought. Besides I believe it is a sin.
I understand the kind of belief, faith, that thinks to not hope is a sin. I don't have it, and sometimes I feel it's dangerous to aspire to, but I have seen it and admired it in others.

Definitely a good book, definitely glad I read it. May not read it again for a while though.

*partly for reasons nothing to do with this book. I wasn't expecting to get the Making History loan so soon and it threw off my vague plan of when I might read what books, such that I considered not re-reading this at all.
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Old 03-16-2018, 01:15 AM   #40
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I think it is a good accounting of how even though a task is "impossible" it should still be attempted even if it doesn't necessarily have the desired outcome. [...]
For me this is a probably the biggest question/talking point of this short story: should it have been attempted?

Consider my earlier posts: the old man professes to love the fish but continues in a struggle that is going to have no good outcome for either the old man or the fish. As an experienced fisherman he must know this.

It seems to me that Hemingway considers his old man to be heroic, but I don't see that. I think the old man is simply stubborn and in his stubbornness he makes a mistake that betrays his love of the sea and the fish. I do see the mistake as realistic, many people (including myself) have a strong tendency to keep pushing things when they should cut their losses, but I don't see it as right or sensible.

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I had to look that one up too, apparently the dolphins in this case were actually a kind of fish (mahi-mahi) but he was using the local word for them rather than English. Here's one article on it. The porpoises are what we expect of porpoises though.
Thanks for the explanations. I assumed it must be a language difference since I could not imagine catching what I think of as a dolphin as a light couple of meals for one old man. Then we hit the "gills" thing and I took that as confirmation we were talking about a fish.

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[...]
His single-mindedness can be seen as foolish, especially if you do not like his goal, but it's also hard not to admire it.
I agree, but I also find it an interesting phenomena that we do admire what is wrong-headed and foolish - and that very often we fail to recognise that it was foolish.
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Old 03-16-2018, 05:21 AM   #41
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I undoubtedly first read this book in my teens, though I have no memory of it at all, so I'm not counting it. Certainly, I saw the original movie, with Spencer Tracy as Santiago, though again, my memories of that are mostly visual snatches, without context or content. So the reality is that my first real reading of it came a few years ago when it moved into the public domain in Canada, and I downloaded it from FadedPage. I then re-read it over the last couple of days to prepare for this discussion.

This was not an 'easy' read, even the first time, but even less so for this re-read. The powerful struggle of the old man with the sun, the sea, the marlin and his own age is both compelling and disturbing, and that before we even get to the final result. But even though the entire story revolves around this struggle, what makes this story work for me is that it is, ultimately, a love story.

The quiet love of the boy and the old man, and the obvious love of the village for the old man are powerful, and fairly straightforward. But the love of the old man for the sea, and the fish in it, is more of a mixed relationship. As is the old man's love for his strong right hand, and more fallible left hand, and for the strength of his failing body.

I see some have given this as low as one star on GoodReads, but for me this remains a solid 5 star read. The visuals are as powerful as the writing and so evocative of the daily struggle for survival of fishermen with and against the sea that provides their livelihood.
I think you have beautifully encapsulated this wonderful novel. Yes, it is a love story and one which embodies struggle and—in the end—a recognition that love exists as an act of faith and one that is basic to the human condition. There is not necessarily any “reward” beyond embracing its necessity to give meaning to our struggles.

BTW, I found the audio reading by Donald Sutherland very effective.

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Old 03-16-2018, 11:04 AM   #42
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When did it change? I've always heard of Dolphin meaning what it does now and that's more than 1/2 the life of the book. So it cannot be all that recent.
I think it has to do with marketing. Some people seeing dolphin fillets for sale at the seafood counter thought they were porpoise fillets. They began using the Hawaiian name mahi-mahi to avoid confusion (and outrage.)
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:18 PM   #43
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I think you have beautifully encapsulated this wonderful novel. Yes, it is a love story and one which embodies struggle and—in the end—a recognition that love exists as an act of faith and one that is basic to the human condition. There is not necessarily any “reward” beyond embracing its necessity to give meaning to our struggles.

BTW, I found the audio reading by Donald Sutherland very effective.
Thanks, I appreciate the comment. As for Sutherland, I wasn't sure after listening to the sample. I'm always reluctant to spend an entire audible credit on a 2 1/2 hour book, but the member buying price is just above what I'd be willing to not use a credit on.
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:28 PM   #44
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I guess I'm old enough to have a little of those type of values instilled in me, and even though I am a bookish computer programmer with no aptitude for anything outdoorsy, I am fascinated by the Old Man's thoughts. It's interesting for example that on his way out, he thinks,

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It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.
It seems to me that the quote you cite is a perfect example of computer programming as well. Though "lucky" could perhaps be replaced by "inspired". Being prepared and exact leads to good code and the ability when you get "in the zone" to crank out good code, fast.

It also works for writing -- I've written enough books (>35) to know that when I get inspired, I can write 15-20 pages a day. But only when I've done the preparation and only because I've honed my skills over those 3 dozen books to know exactly how to describe a sequence of steps to both satisfy my editors, and ensure that the end-user can successfully follow them.

Santiago knew it was good to be lucky, but he also knew that it took preparation and skill to be able to respond to that luck and take proper advantage of it.
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:28 PM   #45
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Consider my earlier posts: the old man professes to love the fish but continues in a struggle that is going to have no good outcome for either the old man or the fish. As an experienced fisherman he must know this.
How many experienced fishermen do you know would willingly give up the catch of a life time?

I understand what you are saying but at what point should one give up? Just because something is hard to do doesn't mean one should quit.

As for the dolphin thing I eventually understood he is referring to a fish it just took me out of the book for a bit. If he would have left at dorado I would have just continued. If the word is left that way on "porpoise" in editing I don't know nor do I really care. Personally I would rather have a work left as originally published rather than updated to match current popular thinking as it shows how life was.

I apologize for the bad pun.
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