The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway) – Review

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Source: My copy
Publisher: Scribner
ISBN: 0684800713 / 251 pages
Find this book at your local library 

From the back cover:

Featuring Left Bank Paris in the 1920s and brutally realistic descriptions of bullfighting in Spain, the story is about the flamboyant Lady Brett Ashley and the hapless Jake Barnes. In an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions, this is the Lost Generation.

Despite his reputation and the reputation of this book, I really did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I loved The Old Man and the Sea and although I read In Our Time in high school 11 years ago, I still have fond memories of that collection of stories.

The Sun Also Rises fell flat for me. I think it was the wrong book at the wrong time. I don’t think it helped that at the time I was reading this book, I was listening to Lauren Oliver’s overly descriptive Before I Fall. It was hard for me pick up this book and go with the less fluid and more choppy pace. It also didn’t help that I have been reading a plethora of picture books for my baby storytimes at the library, and I started to read Hemingway in a sing-song voice because of his short and pointed sentences.

The characters didn’t appeal to me either. I though Lady Brett Ashley was a flirt, I was indifferent to Jake Barnes and I found the rest of their crew to be obnoxious. I did love the scenes in Paris and Spain. Hemingway’s descriptions of the bull fighting scenes were beautifully written for something so horrific. He gave the entire event a grace and elegance I wouldn’t have thought of. Those passages, I really enjoyed reading. The last half of the book was better than the first half, I’ll admit. I did start to feel something for the characters towards the last fourth of the novel.

2 responses to “The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway) – Review

  1. This one’s SO good, but agreed that it’s brilliance might lay entirely in the context of when it was written, post WWI, etc. A FAREWELL TO ARMS might be holding up better than SUN ALSO in terms of long-term sustainability and re-readability.

  2. After reading Paula McLain’s ‘The Paris Wife’ last year and understanding the background to Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ I was put off wanting to read it, I didn’t like what manifested there in his actual life and so could not imagine enjoying a fictional account of it. As pointed out in my review, the most interesting event concerned his wife Hadley Richardson, and she was the only person present in that group that was excluded from his novel.

    I am contemplating reading ‘A Moveable Feast’ just to read Hemingway’s perspective, but that may be sufficient. I’ve moved on to Edith Wharton, another American hanging out in Paris and since its her 150th anniversary this year, seems much more appropriate.

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