I became interested in reading some of Ernest Hemingway’s novels when I read  (already conveniently reviewed) The Paris Wife, which is Hemingway’s rise to literature fan from the perspective of his first wife, Hadley.

So, after consulting the fracking long list of choices, I went with The Sun Also Rises, one of his first, and from what I’ve heard, one of his best.

Plus it’s set in 1920s Europe which is always fantastic.

Plot:

Set into three ‘books’ or sections, the story follows protagonist Jake Barnes, an American writer, in 1926.

Book One:

We’re introduced to the major characters, including Jake’s love interest, Lady Brett Ashley, friend, or foe, Robert Cohn and other British and American expatriates who are enjoying the freedom and luxury of living in Paris in the 1920s.  As book one develops we learn more about the nature of Ashley and Barnes relationship, and find out that while they’re in love with one another, Jake’s impotence (inflicted from a war injury) means their relationship is essentially doomed.

Book Two:

Jake and Brett are joined by Brett’s fiancee, Mike Campbell, and Bill Gordon. Jake and Bill travel to Spain, for some fishing, where there are to meet Cohn.  Only thing is, Cohn had an affair with Ashley, is now in love with her, and won’t leave her and Campbell alone.  Oh the awkwardness.  This only gets worse when they all re-group in Pamplona for the annual fiesta and running of the bulls.  Alcohol can have that effect.

Book Three:

Now for the come down.

Thoughts?

Ernest Hemingway may have been an arrogant bastard, who treated women like playthings and believed he was the shit, but hey, he had good reason to.  Not the playthings bit, but you know, thinking he’s amazing.

I enjoy reading classics, but I have found that often they waffle on a bit, or go into too much detail, and quite frankly, as a result I got misled or bored.  This could very well say something about my intellligence, but at the end of the day, that’s where I stand.

I didn’t have this problem with Hemingway’s writing in the slightest.  He painted a beautiful picture while getting to his point.  Yes his writing may be sparse and simple, but it didn’t take away from the beautiful imagery that he provided on the 1920s.

Furthermore, I loved reading The Sun Also Rises, particularly after reading The Paris Wife, because it further resonated with Hemingway’s life as he was starting out as a writer (before he got ludicrously famous of course).  Beautiful Paris in the 20s, a rich hedonistic life where the most important thing was fulfilling one’s pleasures; the British and American expats who banded together to form their own sort of society; the passion and obsession with the bulls and the lazy Spanish lifestyle that went along with it all…

Ah.  Why do I live in Australia again?

And lastly, I loved the love relationship that occurred between Ashley and Barnes, and that she wanted to lead a fun life with many different men.  Amen sister.  I liked that even though it was pretty tragic in its own right, it wasn’t the central part of the novel, but rather a side note; as though, life goes on, even when things don’t go planned.

Which is a lovely way to look at things, no?

Have you read anything by Ernest Hemingway?  Would you pick up one of his books and give it a try?  Let me know in the comments!

the sun also rises

The Sun Also Rises-(image taken from http://www.thesunalsorises.pbworks.com)

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