Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:2007 Audie Award Finalist for Classics Originally published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises is Ernest Hemingway's first novel and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style.? A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows 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. In his first great literary masterpiece, Hemingway portrays an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. "The ideal companion for troubled times: equal parts Continental escape and serious grappling with the question of what it means to be, and feel, lost." —The Wall Street Journal.
Yada yada yada, Papa!
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
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).
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.
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 â€“ it is about people. And these are people I would rather have not spent time with.
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.
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
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.
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 FermĂn 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 â€ślean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shameâ€ť. 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 aboutâ€”including himself, if truth be toldâ€”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 â€śBig Two-Hearted Riverâ€ť and â€śThe End of Somethingâ€ť 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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
Jake, the narrator and main character, is the closet to understanding God, though still lost. He sees people more clearly than any other
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.
I will start with the endless casual anti-Semitism and misogyny. I expect and accept some of both in books of this era. That said, the anti-Semitism is a large part of the central narrative here and so cannot be ignored. Jews are greedy money-grubbing angry WASP wannabes. For the WASPs they are like barnacles, clinging with all their might hoping that by the reflected glory of the association they will achieve WASPness. If only it were not for those damn kikes (that word is used in the book) everything would be glorious for the gentiles.
Now is a good time to mention that said gentiles are awful people, though their awfulness is never acknowledged or in any way linked in the book to sanguinity. (I will note that I got that Jake was Catholic, but he was "forgiven" by the others and clearly considered an honorary Anglican.) The only female character is a psychopath (I use that term in the clinical sense, not as an epithet) who is the very definition of all women, of feminine perfection, in the eyes of these bozos. If all women were like Bret I too would be a misogynist. The men are vacuous drunks, led only by their dicks, hungry for the metallic tang of the blood of the bullring and the burn of the Pernod downed to dampen the sting of rejection from the psychopath. Worst of all, despite all the strum und drang these people are freaking boring. Being a brokedown drunk or a manipulative bitch living perilously off an allowance which disappears too rapidly is just fine if you can provide a little excitement. If any of these characters were real people living now they would be the cast of Big Brother Ibiza.
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.
Most of the book consists of the conversations that Jake Barnes has with the other characters. The writing is terse and was probably witty in the early 1920s, but much of Hemingwayâ€™s diction has become a bit dated. It is still an enjoyable if easy read, but were it not for its historical significance, I would not rate it very highly.
Ethnic stereotypes of the period come through the narrative. One of the more noble characters is a very competent prize fighter who happens to be â€śa good nigger.â€ť One of the principal characters is reviled by the others because of his â€śsuperior Jewishâ€ť manners. Most of the other characters consume alcohol in unrealistically prodigious quantities, and are not particularly lovable. They are, however, well wrought in that they are multidimensional, and the reader gets a sense of knowing and understanding them by the end of the book.
Hemingway is revered as a writer because he wrote in a way that appeared conversational, but was actually quite artful. This book was one of the first examples of that style. His description of the bull fights is quite vivid, but his account of the fishing is pretty prosaic compared to his later efforts in The Old Man and the Sea or even Islands in the Stream. I recommend this book as good airplane reading, but I would not rank it with the works of Faulkner or Updike.
A lot of criticism centres on the overindulgence of the characters being rich,
Rather, the feeling I remember clearest is one of liberty. Freedom from responsibility and a certain insouciant attitude towards everything, be it the commitment to an appointment, or the consideration of other people's feelings. The picture that stuck with me the most was Jake floating in the sea in San Sebastian. And every time I put myself in his shoe's I can feel the warmth of the sun, and I see the flickering sun light on the inside of my eye-lids, and I can hear people talking on the beach. It is a memory of youth. When life was about the next moment, not next week, or next year. In a way, every time I pick up the novel, I feel I'm being propelled back in time.
And let's not forget that the story is set in the 1920s. We're all familiar with the themes of the lost generation: disillusionment after WW I, and breaking with old 19th Century traditions. Certainly, not everyone was in a position to enjoy those new-found liberties, again, money was certainly a big issue. But there was nevertheless a revolution in societal attitudes at large.
However, the novel is also imbued with tremendous sadness. And although the theme is youth, lavishness and liberty, those generate no buoyancy in the characters. The pace is so very slow, almost as if it was weighed down by the Spanish heat. In my opinion, Hemingway did sense a downside to those jazzy attitudes and foresaw their superfluity. He did manage to instil the ex-patriots' disposition in this novel, but he also offered a critique alongside.
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
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.
The narrator, Jake Barnes, is an American reporter living in Paris in the 1920's. The book has a very loose plot that centers around his friends' lives as expatriates and their
What I enjoy most about this book is the extreme detail that Hemingway provides in his description of settings and scenery. You have a sense of reading someone's travel journal. This is in direct contrast to his approach with dialogue, however. Here, he is very precise and minimalistic. Character interactions become almost stilted and robotic. However, the characters are "tight" most of the time and the writing mimics a stuporous dialect.
This leads me to the one element that always takes me by surprise; the vast quantity of alcohol consumed by the characters. As they travel between cafes, restaurants and bars in the course of an evening, it's not uncommon for each to have drunk 3 or more bottles of wine and numerous cocktails; mainly whiskey and absinthe.
If you've ever dreamed of dropping everything and leisurely traveling the world or are interested in fishing, boxing or bullfighting, then you'll enjoy this book.