The Sun Also Rises Review

Title: The Sun Also Rises
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Genre: Classic

Blurb: The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces 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. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Me: Maybe the first Hemingway I truly enjoyed. Brisk, unapologetic, and surprisingly meaningful.

The Ups: I've read two other Hemingway works: A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea. Neither of them really struck me, and I didn't enjoy his characteristic concise, simple style. But my friend told me to give this one a try, and I'm very glad I did - it was entirely enjoyable and well-done. 

I definitely liked the writing style in this one. It's Hemingway's usual prose, but he spends more time in painting the atmosphere: the French night scene and the Spanish fiesta towns are stunningly described. I felt some of Hemingway's genius here, the way he is able to conjure an image with the least, but most precise, words possible. I haven't traveled in a while, and reading this book felt like taking a walk into the streets of Europe. 

The characteristic part of this book is the seeming absence of a real plot. Emotions heighten and some characters change, but in general, much is just flowing along at the normal pace of life. It seems, in a lot of ways, like just a snapshot of Jake's life when he was closest to Brett, Mike, Robert, and Bill. Yet there was something that propelled me along in reading it - I found it hard to put the book down in the middle of it, and I loved the reality and frankness of the dialogue and relationships between the characters.

With that said, I felt there was a nice, subtle meaning underlying the whole story. There's two main storylines/relationships I see developing: Jake's soft, accepting love for Brett, who he knows he will never have, and then the fiesta's love for the bullfights. Both have this sense of pointlessness, of a lack of substantial reward. Jake knows he will never have the full love of Brett, and a bullfight ends in nothing but death. Yet, there is something beautiful in the process of passion, of living unapologetically. 

The Downs: I touched briefly on it, but there really is very little character development. It doesn't seem like Brett changes from her fleeting, quite empty relationships. Jake doesn't learn to overcome his inability to act about his love toward her. None of the other characters advance. 

Hemingway began the book with the quote from Gertrude Stein: "You are all a lost generation." Maybe he was trying to encapsulate the sense of being lost, but it seems the characters are stuck where they are.

Overall: A more fast-moving, passionate piece of Hemingway. Living in courage and in passion. 

Rating: 4 kisses!

No comments:

Post a Comment