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Old Man and the Sea Book review - Cote Keller As far as...

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Cote KellerAs far as emotionally draining and anti-climactic fishing novels come,The Old Man and the Seaisn’tnearly as bad as Melville’sMoby Dick, but that’s just about the most non-unique non-compliment I canpossibly spare to any work, especially one that has attracted such adulation from the critical community. Isuppose I could cap this critique off right here and now by conceding that I just didn’t get this book, butmany besides me have made the exact same concession in their respective reviews, and we at the Filesaspire for original commentary where most can only weakly parrot each other’s sentiment. In this caseand many others where a widely lauded ‘classic’, e.g. Toy Story,Vertigo, orMoby Dick, is found whollyunapproachable or just pointless to a minority of audiences, studies by intellectual elitists desperate tomake themselves sound smarter have proven that the reason detractors don’t “get it” usually owes less totheir inferior perception and more to the lack of anything one can “get” from the classic in question.And so it is with the critical response to Ernest Hemingway’s account of an aging guy all alone at sea.Published in LIFE magazine in 1952, these brisk 127 pages of riveting action and adventure were theproduct of ten years’ worth of meticulous planning, drafting, and revising, an investment that apparentlypaid off for Hemingway in the long run, winning him the Nobel Peace Prize for Peaceful Literature OrSomething two years later. Good for him, but his book makes no sense. Santiago is an old manidentified by the author only as “the old man”; in spite of the skill and masculinity he continuallydemonstrates throughout his trials at sea, the poor sucker hasn’t caught a fish for 84 days (three short ofhis “record”), having contracted a bad case of thesalao, “which is the worst form of unlucky”. He nolonger dreams of great fish, storms, or his departed wife, but only of lions on the beaches of Africa. I thinkthat detail’s supposed to be symbolic or metaphorical or real horrorshow deep because it’s repeated over

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