Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises
Title: The Sun Also Rises
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publication Date: 1926
Pages: 256
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 10/26/16

Summary: Ex-patriots wonder the European continent drinking, having affairs, and experiencing French and Spanish culture to the fullest.

What I Thought: I am a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald's work. He was a bit of a scumbag in his personal life, but his writing, to me, is some of the best by an American author. He and Hemingway were close. In the same way that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein were close and have some similarities in their works, I can now see that Hemingway and Fitzgerald were very similar. 

This was my first Hemingway novel. For someone who loves literature so much, I'm a little shocked and ashamed that it took me until almost 30 to read any Hemingway. Somehow he slipped through the cracks of my education to this point. As with Fitzgerald's work, I really loved the tone and voice of Hemingway's writing. 

The story itself was, to me, not all that engaging. It was no The Great Gatsby, but the characters were interesting and there is certainly a lot to be gleaned from the book. Hemingway, again, as Fitzgerald, wrote fairly autobiographically. His descriptions of Pamplona are largely based on his own time and experiences there. I'm actually reading Grape Olive Pig (Matt Goulding's next book) right now and it's about culture and cuisine in Spain. I'll be talking about it on Monday here on the blog, but it definitely helped me make the connection between real life Spanish culture and what Hemingway is portraying. 

I was a bit annoyed at the lack of depth in the female characters. I think this is fairly typical of the male writers of this era. Their women were props, scenery in their stories rather than complex, worthwhile beings in their own regard. I think Fitzgerald treated his wife Zelda like that in many ways and I think Hemingway gives his few female characters the short end of the stick in this novel. 

This, as with several of the 100 Best books lately, is one I want to come back to after this challenge. I picked up a really old, beautiful copy of it at a used book sale and am so glad that's the format through which I was introduced to Hemingway's work. His command of prose and depiction of an era gone by make the book worthwhile for their own sake. I'm very much looking forward to reading A Farewell to Arms, which is Hemingway's other selection on the list.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yes, probably

A Reduced Review: Beautiful prose and a glimpse into a bygone era. I can't believe this is my first Hemingway; it won't be my last.

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