The Touch of the Sea

Greek myths held Oceanus to be a massive river surrounding the land. A Titan, son of sky and earth, he was depicted as a handsome, muscular man whose torso ended in a scaled tale. As the Olympians emerged, Oceanus retreated, his domain restricted to strange and dangerous shores, the realm of sailors’ misfortunes and worries. So, too, are the eleven tales within the pages of The Touch of the Sea: fantastical, at times eerie, with sightings of mermen, water spirits, and sea beasts (even the fabled “living island,” the aspidochelone) as well as a smattering of pirates. What makes these stories memorable is that they define the masculinity of the sea, the taste of brine on another man’s lips.

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