Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Scribner Paperback Fiction
Published by Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5
Readability: 7
Impact: Hopefully I got something good out of his writing. We'll see...

Read It Again: I don't think so.
Recommend It: If you want an experience with Hemingway, maybe...

What to Expect

A highly acclaimed book by Hemingway with all the characteristics of such.

My Squib

I didn't know anything about this novel. I wanted to taste Hemingway and this book was the only used one on the shelf. I liked the title too. I love Ecclesiastes. I thought it was high time I knew what all this Hemingway stuff was about and the price was right, so I brought it home.

I later learned that The Sun Also Rises is one of his highest acclaimed novels next to For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms. So I think I got a pretty good sample of Hemingway.

I did enjoy the style. I realize that Hemingway revolutionized a majority of English prose, and it's easy to see the influence.

His writing is certainly unique. You would learn in direct detail about things like the roads, the scenery, how many times someone went swimming on vacation, and the crowds that lined streets. But you were left confused and guessing to what anybody was thinking. It had the feeling of a journal. Like the writer assumes you already know what's going on, or he just doesn't know himself. Many sections were very similar to a travel log.
I thought it was very interesting. It didn't get the book less emotion, but more.

The way he strings sentences together kept me going.

He has a lot of dialogue and sometimes it's disorienting, but it helps things feel real. The characters spoke too much the same to keep strait and the tags were used so sparingly I was a little cunfuseld. Someone is always "feeling like hell" or "all right" and "nice" is so smeared across dialogue and narration that it would send Mr. Tilney to the hospital in a seizure.

So, on the whole, I did like his style.

As far as the story...It was so not my favorite.

Basically every man in the novel is in love with Lady Brett Ashley who is an unfeminine, unabashed hooker. She's already married as well as being engaged. Not sure how that works. By the end she runs off with a totally new guy who, at nineteen, is fifteen years her junior. Icky... She ends up leaving him because she doesn't want to ruin his career as a bullfighter. A little late and a little lame.

The main character (it is written in first person) is in love with Brett, but seems in other ways to be an upstanding dude. Unfortunately by the end he is helping her run off with the bullfighter and trying to get drunk. He is Brett's standby. She knows he will always help her into a jam or pull her out of one. He drives her home at the end and they lament how it would never work out for them to be together.

There's of course more to the story (mostly a great quantity of alcohol), but if your really all that interested, it's a cheap paperback.

I'm not sure what Hemingway meant with this novel.

He seems to have got the message of Ecclesiastes that life is a vapor, but not the purpose and hope of the book. The characters indulge in complete laziness, a lot of wine and self-pity, but no labor and true rejoicing...and absolutely no hope. I hope he wrote this book as an illustration of our stupidity away from Christ, not a representation of how he saw the world. That would be truly tragic.

From the Book

You gave up something and got something else. Or you worked for something. You paid some way for everything that was any good. I paid my way into enough things that I liked, so that I had a good time. Either you paid by learning about them, or by experience, or by taking chances, or by money. Enjoying living was learning to get you money's worth. The world was a good place to buy in. It seemed like a fine philosophy. In five years, I thought, it will seem just as silly as all the other fine philosophies I've had.
Perhaps that wasn't true, though. Perhaps as you went along you did learn something. I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.

This book certainly gave me some food for thought. I'm glad I read it. I'm not going to read it again.
Thanks for reading. I hope the review (of sorts) made sense.
Miss Pickwickian


Rachel Lynn said...

I studied Hemingway in Lit class, and if I remember correctly, he was a naturalist, which means this was how he viewed the world. I haven't read this book, but I read one of his short stores, and parts of his other novels, and they're pretty much the same. Depressing and hopeless.
It's so sad that some people see the world this way, but it's really the ONLY way to view the world without the hope of the gospel. Short and pointless.
Keep writing hopeful works! The world surely needs it.

Caniad said...

From a literary perspective, I loved this book. But I don't remember it being the type of book I wanted to read again and again -- a bit too painful at times.

Elinor D. said...

I loved your Northanger Abbey reference!

Miss Pickwickian said...

Rachel and Caniad,

I agree with both of you. Thanks for the comments.

Elinor D,

I almost took that out, but every time someone used "nice" I would think of Mr. Tilney, so I had to leave it in. Glad someone enjoyed it. :-)

Thanks for commenting,
Miss Pickwickian

Esmeralda Gatsby said...

I've only read The Old Man and the Sea, and some of Farewell to Arms...yeah, I don't care for Ernest Hemingway. His writing style is interesting, it's very journalistic, but his subjects...just tmake you feel icky after reading it. I guess Old mand and the sea wasn't so bad...but yeah :) Interesting though, I've never really heard anyone say they liked his style before...what did you like about it?

Miss Pickwickian said...


I like his style because it is concise and direct. He gives very little information but you still know what's going on and, for the most part, what people are thinking. I believe this takes hard work and I admire him for that.

It's not like I would want to write exactly like him, but I think there are interesting things to learn from his style.
I also think it's a useful study because he did change the writing world.

Having said all that, I'm really in no hurry to read any more of his writing. ;-)

Thanks for commenting. I feel like I haven't seen you in a million years!

In Christ,
Miss Pickwickian

Brooke said...

I actually haven't read a Hemmingway book. This will be the first book that I'm going to read if ever. Off to the book shop later!

Book reviews

Esmeralda Gatsby said...

Yeah, that makes sense. It does take skill to condense things in a way that still lets people know what's happening and let them get into the story. Because you do get into his stories (despite the subjects :-P). It's funny, right after I read this post I had to read a short story by Hemingway for ficrtion writing, and I liked it. :-P
I know :( It's been at least three weeks. :( Not acceptable!
:-P I'll see you Saturday though!