The Garden of Eden

by Ernest Hemingway

Other authorsCharles Scribner Jr. (Preface)
Hardcover, 1995

Call number




Scribner (1995), Edition: 1st, 247 pages


An uncompleted final novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the C�te d'Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman.

Media reviews

"As a novel, however, its merits are dubious: the writing [...] is frequently synthetic and contrived; the characters, sketchily defined; the story-line, by turns static and abruptly melodramatic."
5 more
". . . to be able to list the discrete excellences of a book is to say also it falls short of realization. . . . it is bad Hemingway, a threadbare working of the theme of a boy's initiation rites . . ."
"A lean, sensuous narrative ... taut, chic, and strangely contemporary."
The New Yorker
"A miracle, a fresh slant on the old magic."
The Washington Post Book World
"Hemingway's farewell, mannered, thrilling, spoiled, pure, loyal to its monumental maker and itself and with no knowledge of coming darkness."
Chicago Tribune Books
"Hemingway gives you the look and feel of places, the sensuous brilliance of the world's offerings, the excitement of complex relationships, the precision of a hunt or a breakfast, the tensions of sexual intrigue.... In short, 'The Garden of Eden' is a feast."

User reviews

LibraryThing member Narshkite
Hemmingway's prose is like a caress, beautiful and sensual and perfect in itself even if it has no deeper meaning. This is a joy to read because the writing is that good, and because the story has a quite unhurried quality which pleased me. That said, has there ever been another human being as
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frightened about the threat of assault on his masculinity? I don't think so, In the end I could not fall in love with this because he punted on filling out the women characters and instead made them caricatures, existing only to illustrate what can happen when a weak man allows a brazen woman (who wants to be a man, natch) to feast on his man essence. She kills his manly manliness (he doesn't even want a threesome!) She destroys his work is a symbolic bonfire where she actually torches his junk! (The ability to create good work apparently rests somewhere in the groinal region.) Is it misogynistic? I swear this is so over the top I don't even know. He loathes women, but he loathes men too. Is it pathological? That it is. Anyway...had the women been more developed this would have been better but it is still pretty magnificent.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
Newlyweds Catherine and David are enjoying an extended honeymoon while he tries to write his next book. As Catherine putters around the coastal town she begins to change both her appearance and her attitude towards her husband. Then everything in their relationship changes when she makes friends
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with a woman named Marita.

Such a strange book, published posthumously, and one that I never would have guessed was written by Hemingway. It contains his clean prose, but his characters are wildly different from anything else I’ve read of his. After A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and other big Hemingway novels I thought I know what to expect from his writing. If it’s fiction there is usually a badly drawn female willing to do whatever the hero wants. This book is the polar opposite of that assumption. It makes me wonder if he only wanted to publish the incredibly masculine novels he wrote during his lifetime.

While Catherine and David are still attempting to find their footing as a couple, Marita’s presence throws them off kilter. They begin to reevaluate their roles in the relationship. Catherine carefully pushes and prods until David accepts Marita as a friend and then as a lover. The ménage à trois relationship sneaks slowly into their lives until it’s hard to remember what they were like as a twosome.

After reading The Paris Wife last year it made me wonder how much of this book was inspired by bits and pieces of Hemingway’s own life. His first marriage ended when a close female friend (Pauline Pfeiffer) slowly worked her way into the lives of both Hemingway and his wife Hadley. There are even some parallels with destroyed manuscripts, though in the novel it’s a malicious act and in real life the manuscripts were stolen while in Hadley’s possession.

BOTTOM LINE: A strange look inside one couple’s marriage. A crucial book to read if you think you really know Hemingway’s work, but not a must for those who just want a taste. I’d highly recommend his nonfiction book, A Moveable Feast, about his time in Paris to provide another aspect of his writing style.
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LibraryThing member JBreedlove
The last posthumously published uncompleted novel of Hemingway. It is a story of a love triangle in 1920's southern France.
LibraryThing member autumnc
Hemingway always draws me in. This book made me cut my hair short and go a little crazy, a testimony to how much of a relationship Papa creates when writing his story. This book may be in my top five, possibly my favourite. Dark, enchanting, beautiful, pained and yet full of love- a picture that
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only Hemingway can create.
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LibraryThing member jburlinson
Tissue-thin depiction of Hemingway's first marriage and its dissolution. Even after all those years, the loss (in the novel, the destruction by fire) of his early writings at the hands of his wife are all but undendurable. The most intriguing part of the novel is the reconstruction of the "lost"
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manuscript: a coming-of-age hunting tale, where the husband/author tries to come to terms with his relationship with his father. Somewhat more candor than usual as regards sexual relations, although some of the sex games between husband and wife are still decidedly on the ambiguous side. Is the "envelope-bursting "merely an allusion to female superior? Or are we getting a bit further down the road?
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LibraryThing member emmakendon
Thank God it ended. Enjoying some sympathy for David and his stories, and tasting Hemingway's evocative intelligent sentence structure did not make up for the sense of having my time wasted by boring, self-indulgent tourists drinking absinthe in the sun and having tedious self-obsessed
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non-conversations about their dull, miserable selves. I hope Catherine came back, they all swam very far out to sea indeed and were all accidentally harpooned on the Old Man's spike.
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LibraryThing member amandacb
I have an unbearable loathing for Hemingway, probably because he's a blatant misogynist--I mean, just look at his female characters. My cat could write as well as Hemingway could. His stories are essentially the same--rich people drinking themselves into weird oblivions and having sex with one
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another. Garden of Eden is especially interesting because, surprise surprise, the male character is just as unlikeable as the female ones!
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LibraryThing member ahgonzales
Although Hemingway is tough to swallow in terms of his treatment of women (especially since this book seemed to have all the stereotypes/neurosis about women all wrapped into one), I keep coming back for his beautiful writing. I did appreciate the gender ambiguity and performance, particularly in
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the couple's sex play. Overall a sad book, but worth the quick read.
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LibraryThing member fuzzy_patters
This story is pretty modern for Hemingway. It deals with sexual exploration, madness, and even lesbianism. Yet, the old mastery of story-telling is still here. David Bourne is the typical scarred hero of all of Hemingway's novels, and his wife, Catherine, is equally scarred. Catherine is the
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character who makes this story really interesting despite being grossly unlikeable. It's a beautiful novel, and I couldn't help but make a connection with the characters. He really was a great story teller.
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LibraryThing member SuzannaQ
Very strange Hemingway but very typical at the same time. Similar themes to the crazy all consuming love from "A Farewell to Arms" but plays on his ideas of androngony as he mascuates the women into male roles. He was always such a sexist, but I still love him.
LibraryThing member srboone
Hemingway exploring gender roles. Interesting, if unfocused, work. Unfinished at his death, Hemingway didn't have this one ready for publication and it shows.
LibraryThing member Antoinette.M--
This book has a special place in my heart--I picked it up when I was thirteen and it was my very first dirty book. I became obsessed with striped shirts. My opinion of it completely biased. Rereading it, I can see the flaws more clearly, but nostalgia wins for me every time.
LibraryThing member Jennifyr
This is the first novel of Hemingway's that I have ever read. Previous to this I have only read a small sample of his short stories. That being said, my boyfriend has been recommending that I read this for years now, and I recently picked it up at my college's annual book sale for $1. Overall, I
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quite enjoyed the plot and the writing. There were times where it was slow going and a bit exasperating (meal times and David's writing come to mind) and it was difficult not to skim through at these bits. However, I would still recommend it to anyone who is wondering whether or not to read it. Hemingway creates a wonderful description of a honeymoon getaway that makes the reader want to run off to travel around Europe, skinny-dipping and taking beautiful lovers and letting your skin darken without worrying about skin cancer. The story still has it's pitfalls - some of the dialogue is a little plain and uninspired and Hemingway writes each of his characters as having very similar dialogues, especially the women. However, the plot treads on some interesting events and character relations. Overall, a good read, but probably not Hemingway's best. I do understand though, that the novel was unfinished and possibly edited poorly, with entire chapters cut. I plan on reading some of his other works to get the true "Hemingway experience" because I did like his short stories.
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LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
Hemingway's creatures--his books and his characters--are so complete, whether you like them or not, that reading even this unfinished work is a bit like falling into another world, or even many worlds in the case of this Garden of Eden. And reading this work by Hemingway, in particular, is a bit
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like exploring his notebooks simply because there are aspects of so many of his different works, and the style here is both undeniably him...and wholly a bit foreign in some strange way. Perhaps that foreignness might have been edited out, had he lived to finish the work to his satisfaction, but as it stands, this book is something else entirely, and rather wonderful. It feels ahead of its time, and yet timeless; matter-of-fact, and yet decadent; lovely, and still undeniably crude.

Simply, there's something about this work that I couldn't help but sink into, and I rather adored the thing--and yes, I call it a thing--in its entirety.
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LibraryThing member KatWinther
An alternative romance novel, exploring the untraditional relationships formed between three people.
LibraryThing member bookishbunny
I wonder where the third installment would have led. This was the book that brought me back to Hemingway, after having been turned off by 'Farewell to Arms'
LibraryThing member ennuiprayer
My first Hemingway book and it was published posthumously. It was incomplete, but the story moves through.




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