Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, a late work in this important writer's long career, has often been examined not only in relation to his previous works but also as a new departure. An unusually brief novel, this book has been discussed not only in relation to the novella genre but also in connection to Hemingway's own life, with the author himself often being compared to the "old man" of the title. This volume offers a wide range of approaches to the text, exploring it in terms of history, psychology, sociology, and—last but not least—artistic achievement.
This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory “About This Volume” essay, followed by another work titled “The Old Man and the Sea as Life Hack: Recommended Reading for Those of Us Still Setting Sail,” by Susan Norton. This is followed by a Biography of Ernest Hemingway written by volume editor Robert C. Evans.
A collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat the novel
- From a historical vantage point
- In terms of its critical reception
- Using a specific critical lens
- And by comparing and contrasting it with another important work.
This section opens with an essay by editor Robert C. Evans titled, “Old Age in the 1940s AND 1950S and in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea,” followed by another piece by Robert C. Evans, “Early Newspaper Reviews of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea,” This essay discusses and adds to Linda Welshimer Wagner’s 1977 book Ernest Hemingway: A Reference Guide by adding to Wagner’s listing and descriptions of early reviews of the novella and focusing on newspaper reviews not covered in the bibliography. The following two articles are written by Edwin Wong and Robert C. Evans. The first, “The Gambling Fisherman and the Shapes of Chance in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea,” by Wong explores the main character Santiago’s quest to catch fish to bring home after eighty-four days of no luck and the way that chance presents itself in the novella. In the final essay, “Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”: Two Treatments of Youth and Age in the Early 1950s,” by Evans compares the two works while drawing comparisons to the shared prevalent theme of relationships between old people and young people in two distinct cultures throughout the two stories.
Following these four Critical Context essays is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea: A Pluralistic Approach Rooted in the Work of Linda Wagner-Martin and Kelli A. Larson, by Robert C. Evans
- Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea: A Survey of Modern Criticism, by Joyce Ahn
- Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea: A Roman Catholic Reading, by Laura Kathleen McClain
- Hemingway’s Religion: How Hemingway’s Views on Fishing Relate to The Old Man and the Sea, by Will Arndt
- Ernest Hemingway and the Art of the Fishing Story, by Jericho Williams
- “Everything is a sin”: Anthropocentrism and the Environment in The Old Man and the Sea, by Matthew M. Thiele
- A Most Worthy Opponent: Man Against Nature in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, by Courtney Petrucci
- Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea on the Screen: Three Versions, by Philip Booth
- Santiago Goes Hollywood: The Old Man and the Sea and the 1958 Screen Adaptation, by James Plath
- Closing Episodes in Three Film Versions of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, by Jordan Bailey
- Appendix: Ernest Hemingway’s Life in Photographs
Each essay in Critical Insights: The Old Man and the Sea includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life, beginning with a Chronology of Ernest Hemingway’s Life. This is followed by a list of Works by Ernest Hemingway and a Bibliography. Finally, this section closes with an About the Editor section, Contributors, and a detailed Index.
The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: The Old Man and the Sea provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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