Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sun Also Rises


I enjoyed reading FiestaThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway the second time around. This is a book that's alive with the atmosphere of Paris in the 1920s and the San Fermin festival in Spain. Hemingway drew on so much of his own experiences of living in Paris and his love for bullfighting and it definitely shows in his concise, masculine prose and realistic dialogue.

The story follows a group of expatriates in Europe and their trip to the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. I think this book is extraordinary not just for its adjective-free writing style, vivid descriptions and its depiction of the lost generation but for all the undercurrents and nuances of unrequited love. It's in essence a love story written by a man and told from a man's point of view and it involves a promiscuous and beautiful woman, Brett Ashley, who falls in love with just about every man she meets. Brett wreaks emotional havoc on the principal characters and most especially on Jake, our storyteller, who loves her with a passion but is ultimately unable to give her what she needs.

Hemingway with a bullfighter in Spain

Here are some quotes from the book:

"The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta."

"That was morality; things that made you disgusted afterward. No, that must be immorality." 

"Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic.  He raised his baton.  The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. 
"Yes," I said.  "Isn't it pretty to think so?"  

 I read this book together with Claire of Kiss a Cloud and Mark David of Absorbed in Words.

7 comments:

  1. I never really noticed until you said it, but it was indeed adjective-free! Maybe that is the reason why it felt so masculine? And yet the prose also felt beautiful. I don't know why I would use that word to describe this, but it is.

    Come to think of it, I've know a few guys like Jake. It's probably true what he said, that you can't really be friends with a woman if you're not in love with her?

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  2. Interested in you writing that you enjoyed reading it a second time round. I read some years back having read that it was a great romantic novel. Somehow I didn't find that. What was the difference between your first and second reading?

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  3. @kissacloud- Yes, I think what Hemingway said about falling in love was certainly true. I thought it was a beautiful book too.

    @Joan Hunter Dunn - I think having more life experience made me appreciate it more. I first read it as a naive eighteen-year-old. However, certain images stuck and I knew I had to reread it again at some point. I'm glad I did. It also makes me want to read more Hemingway.

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  4. Thanks for your review. I adore this book. It would be one of my favourites ever, due to the writing style and complex comments on love.

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  5. This is my fave Hemingway book! So glad you enjoyed reading it a second time round. Great post!

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  6. Oh I love the fact that we liked the same lines! (especially that one about consequences, which Claire also quoted).

    Yes, Hemingway does use adjectives very sparingly. And it seems he even skipped the use of adverbs altogether. So it does give the prose an easy flowing yet masculine feel (particularly with respect to his choice of words). And dialogues, they're just so affecting aren't they. It's hard to think that they weren't from real-life conversations. I think he's a master of creating intense atmospheres through the use of dialogue :)

    Anyway, sorry I didn't get to post about this. But I'm glad to have read along with you! :)

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  7. Lovely review! I loved Hemingway's 'Fiesta : The Sun also raises' when I read it. I liked very much his description of fishing and some part of his description on bullfighting and also the way he evokes the atmosphere of the Paris of that era. I also felt sad for the main character Jake, because he tries to be a Man Friday, agony aunt and best friend for Brett Ashley hoping to move further up the ladder in her heart, but ends up being where he is. It is sad but very true, that when one loves another, it is no guarantee that the other will love one back.

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