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Hemingway's the Old Man and the Sea

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Delbert E. Wylder in Hemingway's Heroes said that the last novel during Hemingway's life time was The Old Man and the Sea, a work which Hemingway would identify as a new form. The protagonist of the novel brings to full circle Hemingway's use of mythical hero, for Santiago is again a hero with a different face. He is a modern adaptation of the saint or ascetic (Wylder, 196).

In December 1992, the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association was held in New York, it is a Symposium for Hemingway's works. On the Symposium, Ben Stoltzfus used Saussure's Signifier and Signified theory to analyze the images in the novel in his essay The Old Man and the Sea: A Lacanian Reading, such as lions, sharks, the big marlin and so on. The narrative language of the novel looks very simple and natural. However, it is intentionally crafted and well-organized. The novel is full of suggestion and symbolic meanings and profound implications.

Symbolism is one of the basic artistic techniques.

It is the systematic use of symbols or pictorial conventions to express an allegorical meaning. Symbolism is an important element of most religious arts, and reading symbols play a main role in psychoanalysis. Thus, the Symbolist painters used symbols from mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul. (Sloan, par. 1)

"Symbolism can be defined as the art of expressing ideas and emotions not by describing them directly, nor by defining them overt comparisons with concrete images, but by suggesting what these ideas and emotions are, by recreating them in the mind of reader through the use of unexplained symbols" (Wang Songnian 193).

Symbolism originated in France, and was part of a 19th-century movement in which art became infused with mysticism. French Symbolism is both a continuation of the Romantic tradition and a reaction to the realistic approach of impressionism. ( )The development of symbolism in all Western countries was linked with the decline of realism and preceded by the rise of the new avant-garde movement such as Futurism and expressionism in art (Cui Zhongyuan, 40).

Not so much a style of art, Symbolism is more an international ideological trend. Symbolists believe that art should apprehend more absolute truths which could only be accessed indirectly. Thus, they paint scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena in a highly metaphorical and suggestive manner. They provide particular images or objects with esoteric attractions. (Sloan, par. 6)



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