by Ernest Hemingway
It’s funny. You go back and read the critical reaction to Hemingway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea, and you learn that some critics saw it as a vengeful allegory — Hemingway placing himself in the shoes of an old man who battles on, despite being constantly assailed by outside forces (in this case, Hemingway critics). Other analysts were struck by the story’s religious significance, especially in a passage in which Santiago, the “old man,” alludes to his crucifixion.
But in rereading the novella, I think of it first and foremost as the middle link in a trifecta of epic man-versus-sea-monster sagas. First Ahab and his great white whale, then Hemingway’s Santiago and the sharks, and finally that Hollywood bad boy, “Bruce the Shark” in Spielberg’s Jaws. Critics don’t seem all that interested in what might be Old Man’s strongest asset — it’s a gripping adventure tale.
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