The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

Paperback, 1986

Call number




Collier Books (1986), Edition: Mass Paperback Edition


The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the story introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. Follow the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Media reviews

No amount of analysis can convey the quality of "The Sun Also Rises." It is a truly gripping story, told in a lean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shame. Mr. Hemingway knows how not only to make words be specific but how to arrange a collection of words which
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shall betray a great deal more than is to be found in the individual parts. It is magnificent writing, filled with that organic action which gives a compelling picture of character. This novel is unquestionably one of the events of an unusually rich year in literature.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member absurdeist
The Sun Also Rises is about how a protracted and tragically untreated case of sexual impotence ruined an otherwise rock solid relationship for a young U.S. expatriate named Jake Barnes. Sometime during those no doubt rollicking but overrated roaring twenties, Jake had himself the hots (he had it
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bad, man!) for a sweet society lass -- a Lady -- named Brett Ashley. Unfortunately, for both Lady Ashley and Mr. Barnes, the sun was about the only thing that rose during their doomed romance ... excluding the Eiffel Tower, of course. And run on sentences galore like the running of the bullshits.

Yada yada yada, Papa!
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LibraryThing member Venantius
This was my second reading, after a hiatus of many years.

The first chapter is promising, made me feel glad I was rediscovering this title.

And then the book falls off a cliff.

When you think how influential this novel is, not just for readers who are told it's a great work but for writers for whom
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it is held up as a paradigm, you/I can't help but be appalled.

Dialogue about, frequently, nothing. Pretentiousness. A straining after sophistication and pseudo-weltschmerz. A main character who seems bent on not revealing himself.

Geographical name-dropping: Who cares if the author knows the name and cross streets of every street in Paris? A better writer would have put us there, not just rattled off names (see Dickens, Charles--A Tale of Two Cities).

If I were a travel agent, though, I'd put several copies of this book in my office for customers to browse. Hemingway may have missed his vocation as a travel writer, but inserting those kinds of passages into a work of fiction only makes for for boring reading, unless the reader delights in that sort of been-there done-that mentality.

I hope someone has written about the influence of The Great Gatsby (1925) on this book (1926).
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LibraryThing member EBT1002
I went back and forth on my rating of this novel several times. It's so easy to see how Hemingway was said to alter the novel, to take the form into new territory. At first, I was underwhelmed: short, choppy sentences and unconvincing dialogue. But as Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley and their
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companions in Paris and Pamplona developed, as the tensions of fear, loathing, and longing entwined them in adolescent but also sympathetic tenor, I fell under their spell and enjoyed the narrative ride. That Jake and Brett are in love, and that fate has contrived to keep them apart (that is all I'm saying about that so as to avoid spoilers), serve as the primary thematic vehicle for exploring a time and place and a generation devastated by WWI.

Racist language and anti-Semitic themes are part of why I struggled with my rating; can I excuse those by pointing to the 1926 publication date? In today's world, I find it harder to make that call. And it hardly feels adequate to "knock off a star" for such. So, I rated the novel for its literary merits as I perceive them without reference to the undertone of bias and discrimination. It's a great novel. And its author and characters are profoundly flawed. That is both the figure and the ground.
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LibraryThing member madepercy
As Hemingway's first novel, it is certainly beyond my comprehension how he could ever understand so much at the age of 27. I am reluctant to disclose too much for fear of spoilers, but the conclusion to the story is very real. The bullfighting is described in ways that make me want to see one, yet
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simultaneously I am appalled at the thought. Hemingway seems to have felt the same way. He also describes concussion in a way that can only be described by someone who has suffered several concussions. There are no lies in this work. I am becoming accustomed to the meandering first three-quarters of the typical Hemingway plot. It isn't hard work but it isn't gripping either. He seems to lull you into a comfortable sense of normalcy which doesn't end but the last quarter builds and builds to a climax in the last sentence that unfolds the final emotion. With the conclusion to "A Farewell to Arms" I burst into tears. With this novel I exclaimed, "That fucking sucks!" Hemingway's work is seriously brilliant while incredibly timeless. I am not sure whether it is simply cultural alignment or not, but the connection between the pedestrian and the nostalgic intertwined with the exotic European setting connects one's past to Hemingway's past to the power of two. He takes you to the place he has been and then where he is in the story. I am convinced this is the result of his technique of writing as the protagonist in the first person while excising, completely, the presence of the narrator. Brilliant stuff!
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LibraryThing member figre
I don’t get it. I just don’t see anything in this first novel that would cause it to be a sensation, to cause people to think of Hemingway as a preeminent writer. I read it and see a bunch of disaffected people wondering around, getting drunk, pretending they have importance, and generally
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being the kind of people that give people a bad name. I don’t like these people, and I don’t care what happens to them.

The only part of this book that does anything is the description of the bull fight. This is the terse, quick descriptions one expects, and descriptions that draw you into the action. But the book is not about bullfighting – it is about people. And these are people I would rather have not spent time with.
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LibraryThing member browner56
Ernest Hemingway led a legendary life, becoming well known for his many passions including game hunting, fishing, serving in wars, producing fiction, womanizing, drinking, traveling, and even his suicide. However, he also began his writing career working as a newspaper reporter. That is an
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important detail when considering his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, because above all else that book is a roman à clef relating a fictionalized account of real events that happened to actual people. Of course, Hemingway himself was one of those people, which is where his reporting skills came in handy when turning the account into a full-length story.

The tale is set in the mid-1920s and follows an aimless group of expatriates as they travel from Paris to Spain for the Fiesta of San Fermín in Pamplona. These people represent the so-called Lost Generation, those men and women who came of age in the aftermath of World War I and had been so scarred by the experience to have lost all hope and sense of purpose in life. So, they spend their days in drunken and frequently mean-spirited debauchery, trying desperately to outrun their pain. That they never manage to achieve that goal is perhaps the most poignant moral of the book.

It is also worth noting the stylistic achievement that Hemingway introduced with this novel. The story is written in what one reviewer of the day called “lean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shame”. Indeed, the descriptions are simple and terse and the dialogue seldom exceeds a single sentence spoken at a time. But, through that spare prose, the symbolism and meaning are crystal clear and quite affecting. These are not pleasant people that Hemingway writes about—including himself, if truth be told—but they become unforgettable characters, if only for the suffering they cause and the lack of purpose they experience.

I should say that The Sun Also Rises is not my favorite Hemingway book. In fact, it is not even my favorite early work of the author; I found stories such as “Big Two-Hearted River” and “The End of Something” from In Our Time to be simply stunning and far more satisfying to read. Still, this novel remains standing on its own merit almost a century after its publication. Beyond that, though, it also serves as a remarkable road map to the people who lived in a time and place that truly is becoming lost to a modern generation of readers.
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LibraryThing member Inkwell_Summer07
I first read The Old Man And The Sea and after finishing the novel (which took only about two hours), I puzzled over why everyone thought Hemingway was so great. Then I read The Sun Also Rises and puzzled even more. Hemingway insults my intelligence! He has no technique. His grammar is horrid. The
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dialogues seem stilted and awkward. There is almost no character depth.

Alright, I'm done ranting.

Maybe this is his worst novel? Maybe I should read For Whom The Bell Tolls? Maybe I'm just sick of Modernist writers?


The only reason I gave him that extra half-of-a-star is because he did win the Nobel Prize. And he did make me feel like I was in Spain. Just a little.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Vanity, vanity. All is vanity.

Solomon had a lot to say about that sort of thing. He claimed that the day to day activities were, effectively, meaningless, as there was "nothing new under the sun," no matter how many times the sun rises and sets.

Meet the Lost Generation. They're people in a country
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not their own, fighting in wars that are not their own, living with people that are not their own, and living lives that are not their own. They are, after all, lost.

Meet Jake, the epitome of frustration. After having lost a vital piece of his essence in the war, he is unable to be "more than friends" with his love interest. Brett. And she, regardless of how Jake feels, makes him feel even worse every time she gets a new boyfriend, including the boy-who-would-be-a-man (or was it the man-who-was-a-boy?) bullfighter.

Jake tries to come to grips with his situation, which seems pretty hopeless, hoping to get his mind off Brett and how he can never be with her.

A wonderful work on the part of Hemingway, and definitely worth reading by any fan of the author. Side effects may include severe depression, loss of direction, and advanced stages of literary snobbery.
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LibraryThing member erinjamieson
A beautifully constructed novel with characters marked by depravity and caprice. The narrator and his friends struggle with a lack of morality and purpose.
Jake, the narrator and main character, is the closet to understanding God, though still lost. He sees people more clearly than any other
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character and his choices are the most rational. Bullfigting is a major symbol in this novel with multiple possible interpretations. I think that bullfigting represents purity and purpose. At the beginning of the novel, Jake says "Nobody lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters".

The passage that describes the first bullfight seems to be the most clear and pure passage of the novel . Preceding and following this passage are a mess of parties, relational confusion, fights, drunkenness, and general debauchery. Earlier in the novel, Jake is given the title "aficionado", meaning passion. This is in relation to his love of bullfighting. Jake is a true fan who understands the sport and watches it with passion. In general, Jake recognizes purity and the finality of life. Juxtaposing Jake's character is, the love of his life, a lady named Brett, who lusts after her many different suitors and does not have a clear idea of what she wants. Her motives are always for her gain. Jake's love for Brett is consistent throughout the novel. He does everything to maintain his friendship with her, even if it might be painful to him. Brett does everything for herself lacking any concern about how her actions hurt others. During one of the bullfights, Jake explains to her how the sport works. The purpose of explaining the sport to Brett is "so that it became more something that was going on with a definite end, and less of a spectacle with unexplained horrors". Brett, ironically, is infatuated with the bullfighter. He is a young bullfighter who does everything with purity and perfect form. She goes away with him. Her actions accentuate the carelessness of all characters in the book. She can't help but act according to her desires.

This novel illustrates the pains of immoral and selfish choices. It is full of beautiful, multi-faceted symbolism and a struggle to find God at the center.
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LibraryThing member nog
I'm pretty sure that I read some Hemingway in high school and didn't like his writing. While waiting for a book for which I got on a waiting list at our library system here in San Diego, I decided to read this one in the meantime. This one really doesn't hold up very well, especially if you put
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alongside The Great Gatsby.

Lean, strong prose? I beg to differ. It's spare, but it ain't pretty. Gets a mention for a record number of sentences with multiple "ands" in them. Otherwise told mostly via conversations, which seem banal and repetitive. No real character development occurs. Decades of adulation seem to have made this book immune to criticism, but I still think it's just not very good.

File under: Alcoholism; Fatalism; Animal Cruelty (Bovine).
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LibraryThing member EdwardC
Maybe I just started Hemingway with the wrong novel, but this book was incredibly humane and sad. Not the testosterone-driven work I was led to believe typifies Papa's style and content.
LibraryThing member kraaivrouw
This has always been one of my favorite books. I first read it when I was in high school and I started being interested in Paris in the twenties. Prior to that I had spent hours sitting on the floor in my father's kitchen looking at the pictures in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas or maybe they
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were in The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (we had both). I liked those pictures because of the funny hats and cool cars and because Ms. Stein and Ms. Toklas had standard poodles and I also had a standard poodle. In any event, all of this eventually sparked an interest in The Lost Generation and I read all kinds of things that weren't assigned by my various (dreadful) honors English teachers - lots of novels, some poetry, a fair amount of biography and non-fiction.

During earlier reads of this book I liked most the romance of it - the running of the bulls, the bistros and cafes, and Jake and Brett's doomed romance. I remember liking the idea of Brett, too, sort of adventurous and tragic in her own way. The writing was also excellent - so simple and so evocative.

At this point in my life I still love this book, although this time I was most attracted to Hemingway's descriptions of journeying through the countryside - sitting on top of the bus, walking in Spain, fishing, the sights and sounds of San Fermin. I liked Brett a lot less and found their romantic problems somewhat less compelling (there are so many more options for expressing sexuality than either Jake or Brett allowed for). It's interesting how books change as you do.
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LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
Well, if the sticker on the front cover can be believed, I bought this book in 1988 for some college course I took. Cost me $4.95. Since I don't remember most of college, I certainly don't remember the class, nor this book. Thankfully, I am a packrat, and look what I found to read in the garage in
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2018! I'm glad I did!

I really enjoyed this book, and feel like it's the kin to one of my favorites, "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac. Maybe it's the grandfather to it? Anyway, this story features a lost soul in the person of Jake, who we find in Paris, then Spain, then back to Paris again. Along the way we meet Brett, Mike, Bill, and the creepy Robert Cohn. We also learn a lot about food, drink, bullfighting, fishing, France, Spain, and life in general back then. Despite all the moving about, nothing really happens except for life, and I found it totally interesting! I didn't enjoy how mean many of the characters were, nor how strongly the anti-Semitism rang out. But I enjoyed the meandering about, the vivid descriptions of everything, and the general ennui of the characters. A very fine book. Thanks to whatever professor of whatever course I took who required us to read this! It took 30 years, but it hit it's mark!
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LibraryThing member BlackSheepDances
This is considered one of the 100 greatest novels of all time, yet I missed it in my years of book lust. I once tried to read it last year, but got bogged down and gave up. This time I dug in and tried to focus. My impetus was reading another blog that asked 'what book setting would you love to
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live in?' and this book was the overwhelming favorite.

Keyword: alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Wine, beer, pernod, absinthe, martinis, more wine. These people drank ALL the time, from noon till midnight. Copious amounts of everything. It made me wonder if a bottle of wine was smaller in the 1920's than now, simply because I can't imagine two people putting away four bottles of wine at lunch and still being able to stand.

The story is of the 'lost generation' of expatriots living in Paris in the 20's, and several of them were WWI vets. There seemed to be no purpose to their life other than to eat, drink, and be merry. Money didn't seem to be a factor, these people were living large and leisurely. I could see why some thought Hemingway was anti-Semitic; his description of one character, Robert Cohn, implied a personal prejudice by Hemingway. But perhaps that was more indicative of that time period? Not sure.

Anyway, Jacob Barnes has a war injury that makes him unable to consummate his feelings toward Lady Brett Ashley. She passes on a relationship with him for that reason, despite her clear affection for him. So he's left to be a bystander while she flirts and sleeps around with all of his friends. In the end, they are simply left with each other, as friends. Sad, and empty. Like much of their lives.

I had to laugh at one aside that Hemingway makes: he spent pages describing the road to one town, and while the character visits a bookie, the author remarks on his bookmaking and says "but that's not part of the story". I had to laugh out loud, as so much was in this that seemed irrelevant, pages and pages of descriptions of dust and roads and people, and yet he mentioned that one piece of information as inconsequential.
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LibraryThing member CarlGreatbatch
I don't know where to start with this review, I simply loved all of it. I haven't read any Hemingway for a while so perhaps the most important thing was the simple, spare beauty of the prose. There is just no effort involved in reading this book, although the impressions it leaves behind have
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provided me with more food for thought than most writers manage to engender in a career. I was left practically smelling the dusty plazas of Spain and considering how we depend on others for our view of ourselves. A stunning book, and hard to believe that it was his debut novel.
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LibraryThing member dottieph
Although Hemingway has great talent in writing conversational prose, I found this novel very boring.
How many drinks can one have in one story? Bet this novel has the record!
LibraryThing member tinkettleinn
The novel is set in post-WWI Europe, and the characters are American expatriates living in France and drinking to exist, except for Jake Barnes who is the hero of the novel; he is the only character that isn't drunk for the story's entirety. Jake is able to stare into the meaninglessness of the
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modern world and find some hope in it. Jake's penis was shot off in the war. His balls and testicles remained intact, so is was still capable of being aroused, but unable to consumate his love with Brett, the love of his life. Because he cannot satisfy her sexually, he makes the ultimate sacrifice out of love: he allows Brett to sleep with other men. He watches her satisfy her physical, animal desire with men she does not really love. It is the most painfully romantic book I have ever read. It's a novel about being authentic.

In the years directly following WWI, Gertrude Stein said to Hemingway, "You are all a lost generation." Hemingway wrote the novel in response to Stein's insensitive ignorance. He placed Stein's quote at the front of the book, and used this quote from Ecclesiastes to respond to it:

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever...The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose...The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits...All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

Existentialism says we have to live our lives as though they are ends in themselves. If you want to live a good life and be an 'authentic' good person, you have to do it because it's good, because you want to, not because it may get you into Heaven. The question, then, arises about whether or not good morals can exist in a Godless world. Whether people can do things for their own sake. In the novel, most of the characters drink all of the time because the world is meaningless and it doesn't matter what they do; they don't realize they have a responsibility to live a good life.

Hemingway uses bull-fighting as a metaphor for this authenticity. Good bull fighters will do it for its own sake, not as a performance for someone else. The descriptions of the bull fights are so beautiful; I hope to see a bull fight in Spain, one day. I leave you with this:

Romero's left hand dropped the muleta over the bull's muzzle to blind him, his left shoulder went forward between the horns as the sword went in, and for just an instant he and the bull were one, Romero way out over the bull, the right arm extended high up to where the hilt of the sword had gone in between the bull's shoulders.
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LibraryThing member rizeandshine
The book was well written, I suppose, but I found it a complete bore. I could never connect with any of the characters. Hemingway got his point across about this bitter and amoral lost generation of young people after the first world war, who spend their days aimlessly drinking and partying
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together. I am sure that there is much literary praise for this work and the author, but I wasn't impressed with the book at all.
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LibraryThing member solicitouslibrarian
I reread this recently and enjoyed it, though not as much as when I read it in high school. The clean sentences still appealed to me, though I found the way Jake's wound was not directly mentioned to be, well, dare I say gimmicky?Almost directly after I finished, I had the great fortune to stumble
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upon Joyce Carol Oates's novella, "Papa at Ketchum" a fiction of Hemingway's last days. It was kind of an amazing pairing.
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LibraryThing member donaldgallinger
A young Ernest Hemingway writes his first novel. Full of the joy and sadness of youth, no one is better than Hemingway in evoking the sensual pleasures of the world. Lovely prose, wonderful energy...Hemingway in the first flush of his true talent. Not to be missed.
LibraryThing member scofer
Wonderful read. Set after WWI, the book chronicles the wild nightlife and laissez faire attitude of ex patriate Jake Barnes and his unforgettable friends as they drink themselves silly enjoying the Paris nightlife and during a trip to Spain to fish and participate in a week long bullfight fiesta.
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Terrific dialogue and character development ... particularly with Lady Brett Ashley, a true free spirit.
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LibraryThing member amerynth
I admit I have rather romantic notions of what it would be like to head to 1920's Paris and hobnob with fellow ex-pats (all of whom would be at some stage of writing their book) over Pernod and tiny cafes. Oh, the conversations I envision. Sadly, Hemingway in "The Sun Also Rises" has convinced me I
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might as well head to a sports bar in Decatur because most of the conversation is pretty dull.

I don't typically care for Hemingway (as I find his attitudes toward women, people of color and now Jewish people to be troubling at best) and this book really wasn't an exception -- it was mainly troubling and dull.

The book picked up a bit of a spark when it moved to Pamplona and the bar talk revolved around bulls, but at that point, it was really too late to save it.
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LibraryThing member bcjunior13
In a world lush with suffering and violence, Hemingway provides a look into the happenings of the immigrant bourgeois in Paris. With no want of money or wealth, the upper crust of the society stand away from the teeming masses rather than aiding the yearning populous with not so much as an ounce of
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philanthropy or any indication thereof.

Rather, the emigrated American socialites prefer opulence and wanton luxury to so much as lifting a finger in any form of work. Enveloped and encapsulated in the grasp of society's frivolities, the characters of Hemingway's narrative spend and spend and spend for the empty revelries of their aloof and unconcerned existence.

Masterfully written in Hemingway's nearly overbearing descriptive style, Hemingway flourishes his pen and finishes a masterpiece. Although undoubtedly well-deserving literary acclaim, the characters' complete and utter superfluousness about life in general put their despicable nonchalance ahead of Hemingway's eloquence and merited this book no higher a rating than a meager 2.
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LibraryThing member Carmenere
It seems to me readers either love Hemingway or hate him. I tend to be in the love camp and now, after reading The Sun Also Rises, never more so.
A group of expatriates, residing in Paris, take a summer vacation in Pamplona to watch Running of the Bulls and enjoy it's 7 days of fiesta. Central to
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the story are Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. They love each other but because of medical reasons their future together, is just not feasible. So what's there to do but drink and party with your friends. In fact, many of the party members seem confused, unfulfilled and depressed. The result is a bunch of 30 year old adults on spring break, looking
for relief in booze and sex.
The thing is, this book was written in 1926 and women were thought of very differently so perhaps that's why Hemingway is not a favorite but I appreciate this book for the snapshot in time it provides. He writes of a post WWI world and a generation still coming to terms with the affects of the war. To leverage that he puts Jake and his friend, Bill, on a train and Hemingway's description of the French and Spanish countryside reads like a travelogue. Their sojourn in a small fishing town sounds idyllic and acts as a sharp contrast to the description he provides of the brutal bullfights, they will shortly witness.
I enjoyed being a part of this crowd for a short spell but also glad to leave them in their sullen lives.
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LibraryThing member k8_not_kate
I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. I kept waiting for the action of the story to take place and it never did, although the characters and places in the novel stick with me. Since I had a feeling like I missed something, I "wikipedia'd" the novel after reading it to find out the reasons
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for its popularity with critics (it's considered Hemingway's best by many, though not me). After rethinking it, exploring the themes, and reconsidering the period in which it was written, I appreciated The Sun Also Rises more. However, I'm of the opinion that if these things don't occur to you while actually reading the book there's a problem. Whether it's with me or Hemingway, I'm not sure.
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