Le Vieil Homme et la Mer (The Old Man and the Sea), by Ernest Hemingway, Illustrations by Antonio Totero, 1976

Those who like literal illustrations, as I do, can provide no higher praise for an illustrated classic than to say that by simply browsing through the illustrations, all the memories of having read the book years ago, the knowledge gained and emotion felt from a deep reading of the text, all come flowing back as if you just read the book yesterday. It has probably been a decade since I last read Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Yet, as I flipped through this beautifully done French edition from 1976, I felt as I could verbally recite the story in detail, simply through the illustrations perfectly encapsulating the story, mood and setting.

Just look at the pictures below; how they immerse you into being an observer of the action. The atmosphere, especially the coloring, seems to perfectly captured the exaggerated sense of light which, for those who have visited the Caribbean, accurately captures the feeling one often gets in this setting.

The artist is Antonio Totero, who provided a dozen original color lithographs for this edition. Try as I might, I have not been able to find much information on Totero. Perhaps readers of Books and Vines could help out on his biographical information. There is another French edition livre d’artiste book, Kafka’s La Metamorphose, which is illustrated by Totero and looks interesting.

Hemingway (1899-1961) wrote The Old Man in the Sea in 1951 in Cuba.  It was his last major piece of fiction and contributed to his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 (he also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1952 for this work). The story, an epic battle between an old, experienced fisherman and a large marlin, remains an extremely popular work, and is read and taught around the world.

If you doubt the size of the marlin in Totero’s illustration below, look at this picture of Hemingway, with his family, from Bimini in 1935.

{Ed. Note:  Book Gallery, in Phoenix, has one copy of this in stock as of early January 2012. I would call if interested, it probably will not last long.}

About the Book

I cannot find much information on this edition. If you know more about this, let me know and I will add it to the information below.

  • Published in 1976
  • Folio volume, 158 pages
  • Limited edition of 280 copies
  • One of 172 copies on large vellum arches
  • Signed by the printer and the artist

Pictures

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The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Solander Box
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Solander Box Spine
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Title Page
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Frontispiece
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Sample Text #1
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Sample Illustration #1
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Sample Text #2
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Sample Illustration #2
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Sample Illustration #3
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Colophon/Limitation
The Old Man and the Sea, Les Points Cardinaux, Grenoble, Signature Page

4 thoughts on “Le Vieil Homme et la Mer (The Old Man and the Sea), by Ernest Hemingway, Illustrations by Antonio Totero, 1976

  1. Wow, what a beautiful book! I love hardcover illustrated editions, and The Old Man and the Sea!!! Would you know if they printed this in English as well?

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