Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

After two months of slogging through its pages, I’ve finished The Sun Also Rises! Finally! I’ve broken away from its evil, drunken clutches! Bwahahahahahaha. Just kidding.

If I say that the book is about a bunch of American expatriates who get drunk a lot and fight over one woman, will I be doing the book a disservice? Probably. On the surface, that’s what this book is about, but there a lot of things going on underneath. These expatriates are all part of the Lost Generation, the people whose lives were forever changed by World War I. The war changed their values, and ruined their innocence. They’re aimless, they know it, and they’re unable to do anything about it.

Like in The Old Man and the Sea, I was once again impressed by Hemingway’s ability to pack so much meaning into a couple of simple words. In one scene, Jake, the protagonist, tells one of the other characters that, “You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” The quote is perfect for the so-called Lost Generation. It doesn’t matter if you decide to go on an adventure-filled trip to South America and get drunk five times a day. Your emotional baggage will always stick with you. You can’t just shake it off.

I still haven’t made up my mind whether Hemingway is a misogynist or if he’s just scared of strong, independent women. Lady Brett Ashley, the woman they’re all fighting about, is fiercely independent (wow, what a Mills & Boon cliché). She changes men as often as she changes clothes, and is merciless about it. It’s pretty obvious she has no emotional attachment to any of them, but the fact remains that she ALWAYS has to be with a man. It’s like she took one step forward in the name of female independence, and took two steps back. I. Cannot. Make. Up. My. Mind.

Anyway, Hemingway’s writing is as crisp as usual, and, while reading, I felt like I was stepping on dried leaves on the street. Cruncheee. This book made me realize how great being an “armchair traveler” is with its beautiful descriptions of Pamplona, San Sebastian, and other Spanish locales. I really thought I was on a bus drinking some form of hard liquor out of a leather sack.

Rating: 4/5

Note: And, no, I didn't forget to talk about the bullfighting. Before reading this book, I never saw the point in bullfighting. I just thought it was a stupid sport where a matador had to wave a red cloth in a bull's face. This book made me understand how graceful and subtle bullfighting can be. Loved the descriptions of the sport. I'm pretty sure I missed some fancy symbolism there.

10 comments:

mooderino said...

I've read almost all of his short stories but never one of his novels for some reason. Can never decide which one to start with.

mood

Alice said...

I just have this hatred of Hemingway. I'm not sure where it originated, except maaaybe from my terrible 7th grade English teacher, who loved him. Plus he's basically the opposite of Dickens, to which I say "booooo."

Is this worth reading then? Would it be a good first Hemingway?

Zibilee said...

I am intimidated by Hemingway, as I have heard his writing is terse and very masculine. I am a big lover of lengthy descriptions and character analysis, and I think Hemingway is not an author who deals in that. I need to break through my prejudice and check out one of his books. Who knows, it might surprise me! Great review, as usual, Darlyn :)

Ben said...

@Mood: Start with this one, it's the first.

@Darlyn: Hemignway has always been quite the manly writer. His preoccupations don't always make sense to female readers.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I want to like Hemingway, so much. But I just can't.

Eclectic Indulgence said...

I also enjoyed 'The Sun Also Rises', but I don't think it had the same j'ne sais quoi that some of his other works did.

If you want to learn a TON about bullfighting check out 'Death In the Afternoon' which Hemingway wrote about bullfighting, in non-fiction. There is a review up on my blog.

For my take on 'The Sun Also Rises', my review is here:
http://eclectic-indulgence.blogspot.com/2009/11/ernest-hemingway-sun-also-rises.html

Emma said...

I absolutely love this book, and all of what I've read of Hemingway so far, which isn't much in the scheme of things, but I am pacing myself ;-)

I think another book to check out if you like this one is A Farewell To Arms...A much more romantic novel, though all around it is a much heavier novel than The Sun Also Rises. How heavy can a drunken vacation with friends be, really??

Loved your review!

Kailana said...

I really didn't like The Old Man and the Sea, so I have mostly avoided Hemingway. I know I have to get past that...

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I've always been frustrated by Hemingway's depictions of women, especially in For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms. I didn't love this one either. I think A Moveable Feast is the only book of his that I have fallen in love with. I do love his writing, but his characters tend to leave me cold. Maybe that's why his nonfiction worked for me.

Rebecca Reid said...

I have read this twice and I didn't really like it either time. You have a better attitude about it than I did. I LOVE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, though. Hemingway was quite the writer.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...