Understanding the Old Man and the Sea: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding the Old Man and the Sea: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding the Old Man and the Sea: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding the Old Man and the Sea: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

Winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and specifically cited by the Swedish Academy when Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, The Old Man and the Sea remains one of the author's most beloved works. This casebook helps readers interpret and appreciate the thematic concerns of the novel, as well as the contextual issues it explores.

Topic chapters provide information on Cuba, including its natural geography, sociopolitical history, and the ethnic background of its people. A wide variety of primary documents such as interviews and articles, along with charts and illustrations, establish a framework for interdisciplinary study.

One chapter with particular appeal to students deals with Hemingway's treatment of the ethos and issues of baseball and sports. Included are documents pertaining to the Cuban league, the legendary Joe DiMaggio, and a historical perspective of baseball offered by the Director of Research at the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame in an original interview conducted for this book. The casebook is completed with contemporary issues, suggestions for oral and written exploration of the novel, and suggested further readings.

Excerpt

Shortly after The Old Man and the Sea had earned Ernest Hemingway the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, he was interviewed by Robert Manning, who turned notes from that interview into an article for the Atlantic Monthly in 1965. Manning recounts the following incident, which had occurred while he was visiting Hemingway at Finca Vigía—the name of his villa in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba—nine years earlier:

[Hemingway] reached for the mail, slit open one from a pile of
fifteen letters. It was from a high school English teacher in Miami,
Florida, who complained that her students rarely read good litera
ture and relied for “knowledge” on the movies, television, and ra
dio. To arouse their interest, she wrote, she told them about
Hemingway's adventures and pressed them to read his writings.
”Therefore, in a sense,” she concluded, “you are the teacher in my
tenth grade classroom. I thought you'd like to know it.” Hemingway
found that letter depressing: “Pretty bad if kids are spending all that
time away from books.” (Manning 107)

Little could Hemingway have guessed that by the beginning of the twenty-first century, books would have even more competitors for kids' attention. In addition to movies and television, video games . . .

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