The Sun Also Rises (and Hemingway in general)

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The Sun Also Rises (and Hemingway in general)

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Redigerat: maj 3, 2010, 10:57am

I just finished reading "The Sun Also Rises" for an introduction to prose forms class, and it was the most frustrating book I have ever had to slog through. If it hadn't been for the commentary in the course materials I wouldn't have read past page 20 because I couldn't understand what he was trying to communicate in each scene.

The language is so pared down (which is why some people like his work) that I couldn't find the verbal cues which tell you how the characters are reacting to what happening. Hemingway assumes that absolutely everyone thinks just like he does and will interpret his discriptions the same way he does, but not everyone has the same emotional reactions to simliar events. When Jake, Bill, and Cohen are driving through the Basque countryside to go on a fishing trip, the description of the landscape reads like a National Geographic article. It goes on for a page and half before Hemingway finally returns to the characters in the car, and the reader get a sense of how they are reacting. In the meantime, the whole story gets put on hold and by the time Hemingway got back to the point, I had lost the thread of the story.

It was so frustrating trying to understand that book that I almost threw it across the room, and I had never even considered throwing a book before (that's sacrilige in my opinion). Hemingway seems to believe that his readers aren't just book readers but mind readers as well.

maj 3, 2010, 6:41pm

Hemingway is an unacquirable taste. Either you get him or you don't. I haven't bothered with him since I read For Whom the Bell Tolls fifty years ago. Not my style.

maj 28, 2010, 9:11pm

The Sun Also Rises is one of my all-time favorites. I guess sometimes I feel a bit angsty and can relate to poor old impotent Jake!

maj 28, 2010, 9:11pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

maj 31, 2010, 5:40pm

My high school Spanish class back in the mid 70s was trying to raise money to go to Spain. We had a speaker come in who recommended to us that we read The Sun Also Rises because it would tell us everything we needed to know about Spain. It might have told us everything we needed to know about Spain 50 years before, but about the Spain at the end of Franco's regime not much. I liked it anyway. The movie isn't too bad, especially Eddie Albert.

maj 31, 2010, 8:02pm

I prefer to remember the Espana of Lazarillo de Tormes. It's probably about as accurate as Hemingway's view and a heckuva lot more fun to read. Or how about Don Fernando?

jul 10, 2010, 10:33am

And besides, Brett was hot...

jul 10, 2010, 11:48am

When one rereads Hemingway, in later life, you discover that underneth all the macho bullshit, he was a bully, greatly overrated, a bit of a drunk and not nearly as talented as Fitzgerald. One has to understand the thirties, the political climate in Europe, the Spanish Civil War, which probably isn't taught in today's schools. Read Martha Gellhorn, for a really good understand of Papa Hemingway.

jul 10, 2010, 1:45pm

I'm not that old (hopefully not in the later part of my life yet) but I do agree with PJBanks about Hemingways personality even though I don't think he is overrated. But the sun also rises was a great disappointment for me too as I remember it (reading it ten years ago).

My opinion on Hemingway, as I recall it is that his earlier books (the sun also rises, a farewell to arms) have the Hemingway style but don't express that much. That is, the style is economic but not yet condensed. In later books, (for whom the bell tolls, across the river and into the trees, the old man and the sea) he actually expresses a lot of emotion with very few words. By describing actions, for example, he hints on the underlying emotion or psychological reaction in a way that you don't have to think in the same way as the characters in order to understand. (I generally don't think like his characters and I do think he was singleminded and probably unable to write characters he couldn't identify with fully himself.)

I think there is a shooting scene in the first chapter of "to have and have not" that might illustrate the point of his style better. Including the section where the protagonist walks away from it all. Or maybe "the snows of kilimanjaro" (the story). But since I haven't read Hemingway for at least seven years, except for a few stories and the beginning of "to have and have not" I don't know what would be the best illustration.

One point is, in my opinion, that what is not explicitly mentioned is often stronger than what is. Hemingway has applied this to the actual sentence constructions.

Redigerat: jul 11, 2010, 11:53am

Toffte (message 9):
I agree with you assertion that "what is not explicity mentioned is often stronger than what is;" some of my favourite novels are written that way. But I don't think Hemingway was particularly skilled at this. At least not when he wrote The Sun Also Rises. I haven't read anything else by Hemingway so I can't comment on whether or not his talent for this improved over the years.

As for his characters, they are some of the weakest characters ever created. People often comment on how weak his female characters are but his male characters aren't much better. Jake is the sum total of his trauma; he has no other personality beyond that of his impotence and insecurity. I couldn't help thinking of him as a male Bridget Jones: all insecurity, no personality. Now there's an ironic thought: Hemingway as the inventor of "chicklit" characterization techniques.

jul 11, 2010, 5:07pm

I'm going to paraphrase this remark as I can't remember it exactly, but I recently saw a show about Picasso. It seems the artist was somewhat disparaging about Hemingway's supposed "manliness" and his bloodlust. He basically made the remarks that if Hemingway had actually lived through real war, destruction and near death experiences he would hold entirely different viewpoints than the ones he espoused.