Sonntag, 4. September 2011

The Old Man and the Sea


He did not like to look at the fish anymore since he had been mutilated. When the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit. But I killed the shark that hit my fish, he thought. And he was the biggest dentuso that I have ever seen. And God knows that I have seen big ones.
   It was too good to last, he thought. I wish it had been a dream now and that I had never hooked the fish and was alone in bed on the newspapers.
   "But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated." I am sorry that I killed the fish though. Now the bad time is coming and I do not even have the harpoon. The dentuso is cruel and able and strong and intelligent. But I was more intelligent than he was. Perhaps not, he thought. Perhaps I was only better armed.
   "Don't think, old man," he said aloud. "Sail on this course and take it when it comes."
But I must think, he thought. Because it is all I have left. That and baseball. I wonder bow the great DiMaggio would have liked the way I hit him in the brain? It was no great thing, he thought. Any man could do it. But do you think my hands were as great a handicap as the bone spurs? I cannot know. I never had anything wrong with my heel except the time the stingray stung it when I stepped on him when swimming and paralyzed the lower leg and made the unbearable pain.
   "Think about something cheerful, old man," he said. "Every minute now you are closer to home. You sail lighter for the loss of forty pounds."
   He knew quite well the pattern of what could happen when he reached the inner part of the current. But there was nothing to be done now.
   "Yes there is," he said aloud. "I can lash my knife to the butt of one of the oars."
So he did that with the tiller under his arm and the sheet of the sail under his foot.
   "Now," he said. "I am still an old man. But I am not unarmed."
The breeze was fresh now and he sailed on well. He watched only the forward part of the fish and some of his hope returned.
   It is silly not to hope, he thought. Besides I believe it is a sin. Do not think about sin, he thought. There are enough problems now without sin. Also I have no understanding of it.
   I have no understanding of it and I am not sure that I believe in it. Perhaps it was a sin to kill the fish. I suppose it was even though I did it to keep me alive and feed many people. But then everything is a sin. Do not think about sin. It is much too late for that and there are people who are paid to do it. Let them think about it. You were born to be a fisherman as the fish was born to be a fish. San Pedro was a fisherman as was the father of the great DiMaggio.


Er träumt von Joe DiMaggio. Und den Löwen: He no longer dreamt of storms, or of women, or of great occurrences, not of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, not of his wife. He only dreamt of places and the lions on the beach. Joe DiMaggio hat seine Karriere gerade beendet und Marilyn Monroe kennengelernt, als Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea schreibt. Er wird den Nobelpreis dafür kriegen. Seinen letzten Roman Across the River and into the Trees hatten die Kritiker verrissen. Jetzt will er es ihnen zeigen, A man can be destroyed but not defeated. Der Fischer Santiago kämpft einen langen Kampf. So wie Hemingway einen langen Kampf kämpft. Mit den Dämonen seiner Depressionen. Mit dem Alkohol. Gegen die Kritiker. It is silly not to hope.

A man is never lost at sea. Das ist so ein Satz, mit dem sich der Fischer Santiago Mut macht, wie mit dem Satz But man is not made for defeat. Ich weiß jetzt nicht, was der Schwarze in seinem Boot umgeben von Haien auf dem Bild von Winslow Homer The Gulf Stream (ganz oben) denkt. Aber als ich das Bild zum ersten Mal sah, dachte ich mir: so muss sich der Fischer Santiago fühlen. Vieles von dem, was Winslow Homer auf den Bahamas und in Key West gemalt hat, sieht so aus, wie man sich die Welt des Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea vorstellt.

Oder wie Stephen Cranes The Open Boat mit dem Anfang: None of them knew the color of the sky. Their eyes glanced level, and were fastened upon the waves that swept toward them. These waves were of the hue of slate, save for the tops, which were of foaming white, and all of the men knew the colors of the sea. The horizon narrowed and widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like rocks. Many a man ought to have a bath-tub larger than the boat which here rode upon the sea. These waves were most wrongfully and barbarously abrupt and tall, and each froth-top was a problem in small-boat navigation.

Stephen Cranes Werk hat Hemingway sehr gut gekannt. Und schon eine Generation vor ihm hatte Joseph Conrad hatte den jungen Autor bewundert. Ich habe immer vermutet, dass Hemingway Stephen Crane ein klein wenig beklaut hat. Aber das ist wohl nicht so originell, die Literaturwissenschaft hat das auch schon herausgefunden. In The Old Man and the Sea beklaut sich Hemingway ein wenig selbst. Nach dem Misserfolg von Across the River and into the Trees schreibt er einen Roman, der erst nach seinem Tod unter dem Titel Islands in the Stream veröffentlicht wird. Geben Sie kein Geld für den Roman aus, Malcolm Cowleys Rezension ist noch das Netteste, was darüber gesagt wurde. Natürlich enthält er Stellen vom besten Hemingway wie (da ich nun schon mal bei der See, den Stränden und den Haifischen bin) diese:

The house was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbor and the open sea. It had lasted through three hurricanes and it was built solid as a ship. It was shaded by tall coconut palms that were bent by the trade wind and on the ocean side you could walk out of the door and down the bluff across the white sand and into the Gulf Stream. The water of the Stream was usually a dark blue when you looked out at it when there was no wind. But when you walked out into it there was just the green light of the water over that floury white sand and you could see the shadow of any big fish a long time before he could ever come in close to the beach. It was a safe and fine place to bathe in the day but it was no place to swim at night. At night the sharks came in close to the beach, hunting at the edge of the Stream, and from the upper porch of the house on quiet nights you could hear the splashing of the fish they hunted and if you went down to the beach you could see the phosphorescent wakes they made in the water. At night the sharks had no fear and everything else feared them. But in the day they stayed out away from the clear white sand and if they did come in you could see their shadows a long way away.

Es ist das Klügste, was Hemingway gemacht hat, dass er das Manuskript aufgegeben hat und sich auf die kleine Erzählung von Santiago und dem Hai konzentriert hat, die übrigens (wie Island in the Stream) ein Teil eines großen Werkes über die See werden wollte. Vielleicht wollte er hundert Jahre nach dem Erscheinen von Moby-Dick Herman Melville Konkurrenz machen. Es hat Kritiker gegeben, die The Old Man and the Sea mit Melvilles Roman verglichen haben, aber das ist wohl doch ein wenig vermessen, Nobelpreis hin oder her. Er scheint diese Geschichte schon lange im Kopf gehabt zu haben, denn in On the Blue Water: a Gulf Stream Letter einem Artikel, den er für das Magazin Esquire seines Freund Arnold Gingrich im April 1936 geschrieben hatte, findet sich schon die ganze Story (natürlich ohne die biblische Überhöhung):

[An] old man fishing alone in a skiff out of Cabañas hooked a great marlin that, on the heavy sashcord handline, pulled the skiff far out to sea. Two days later the old man was picked up by fishermen sixty miles to the eastward, the head and forward part of the marlin lashed alongside. What was left of the fish, less than half, weighed eight hundred pounds. The old man had stayed with him a day, a night, a day and another night while fish swam deep and pulled the boat. When he had come up the old man had pulled the boat up on him and harpooned him. Lashed alongside, the sharks had hit him and the old man had fought them out alone in the Gulf Stream in a skiff, clubbing them, stabbing at them, lunging at them with an oar until he was exhausted and the sharks had eaten all that they could. He was crying in the boat when the fishermen picked him up, half crazy from his loss, and the sharks were still circling the boat.

The Old Man and the Sea wurde heute vor 49 Jahren veröffentlicht. Steht so bei Wikipedia, stimmt aber nicht. Wie so vieles bei Wikpedia. Zum ersten Mal war die long short-story im Life Magazine am 1. September zu lesen. In einem Stück, ohne Werbung. An Extra Dividend in this Issue - The Old Man and the Sea - By Hemingway - A Complete New Book - First Publication stand vorne drauf. Life verkaufte mehr als fünf Millionen Exemplare von dem Heft. Die Buchausgabe von Scribner's folgte eine Woche später. Kostete damals drei Dollar, das Heft von Life hatte nur 20 cents gekostet. Heute muss man dafür über 30.000 Dollar auf den Tisch legen (die Erstausgabe von Life bringt gerade mal 200 $). Für meine englische Ausgabe von Jonathan Cape vom April 1953 habe ich mal zwei Mark fünfzig bezahlt. Jahre später habe ich die noch einmal gekauft, musste allerdings zwei Euro fünfzig dafür bezahlen. Dafür war es aber die englische Erstausgabe mit dem Originalumschlag, diesem bescheuerten lachenden Hai.

Der Künstler ist derselbe, der zwei Jahre zuvor den Buchumschlag für Across the River and into the Trees gestaltet hatte. Er wurde 1910 in München als Hans John Knox Aufseeser geboren und hat sich nach seiner Emigration nach England (sein Vater Ernst Aufseeser wurde 1933 von den Nazis als Professor an der Düsseldorfer Akademie entlassen) den Nachnamen Tisdall zugelegt. Seit den dreißiger Jahren war er bei Jonathan Cape für die Gestaltung der Buchumschläge zuständig (wobei er auch eine Vielzahl von jungen Künstlern einwarb). Tisdall, der in England sehr bekannt war (in seinem Heimatland weniger), ist 1997 gestorben. Seine Ehefrau Isabel, eine bekannte Modedesignerin, hat ihn um zehn Jahre überlebt. Trotz des distinktiven Tisdall Stiles finde ich den Buchumschlag fürchterlich. Der Händler, der das Buch mit € 2.50 auspreiste vielleicht auch. Wahrscheinlich mochte er keine lachenden Haie.

Alle Bilder im Text sind von dem amerikanischen Maler Winslow Homer (der hier irgendwann noch einmal in diesem Blog vorkommen wird). Ernest Hemingway hat ihn bewundert. So prollig und banausenhaft sich Hemingway für die Öffentlichkeit inszenierte, interessierte ihn Malerei schon. Von daher ist es sicherlich passend, dass man für den Buchumschlag der Complete Short Stories der Finca Vigia Edition dieses Bild von Winslow Homer genommen hat.

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