Rating: 3 out of 5
Wow! I was so busy today that I didn’t have time to post, but I came home to over 100 views! I keep getting a ton of hits because of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is wonderful because I hope people are reading my rant on the series to know how crappy it is!
But back to real literature. I’m currently reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, which is about Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. Thus, I decided to review a novel of his for Masterpiece Monday, called The Sun Also Rises.
The book was published in 1926, and it’s a highly autobiographical tale of expatriates who travel from Paris to Spain to watch the bullfights. Hemingway based the story on his own experiences and friends, and its realism is what makes it one of his best works.
Hemingway can be seen in the protagonist Jake Barnes, who falls in love with the recently divorced Lady Brett Ashley, based on the also recently divorced Lady Duff Twysden. Although Hemingway was married to Hadley during this time, his wandering eye resulted in their divorce. It remains unclear whether Hemingway had an affair with Duff, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I am surprised, however, that The Sun Also Rises was still dedicated to Hadley and their son, due to their crumbling marriage come publication.
I wouldn’t call myself a Hemingway fan, but I did enjoy some of his short stories, namely “Indian Camp” and “Hills Like White Elephants.” However, I did not care much for The Sun Also Rises, because I felt that it was too autobiographical to be that interesting. Very character-driven, not a lot of action.
It has elements of soap opera in it, given that every male character fights for Lady Brett’s attention. However, most of the story consists of them dining, drinking, and watching bulls being gored. I abhor bullfighting, finding it cruel and barbaric, so obviously a novel surrounding the “sport” was not going to appeal to me.
I can put aside my biases enough, though, to appreciate what this book represents: the epitome of life in the Roaring Twenties. By writing life as he lived it, Hemingway immortalized the “Lost Generation” of American writers and artists in Europe. I don’t love Hemingway’s sparse, stripped-down style, but I love the history that he captured on paper.
I’m having fun reading The Paris Wife, because I’m learning so much about Hemingway and his relationship with Hadley. It would be interesting to re-read The Sun Also Rises to see if my opinion has changed. Maybe Hemingway can be an author I can learn to like professionally, even if I can’t stand his selfish, womanizing ways personally.
Favorite Quote: “Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.’” (Ch.2)