The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

Book - 1926
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Published in 1926 to explosive acclaim, The Sun Also Rises stands as perhaps the most impressive first novel ever written by an American writer. A roman à clef about a group of American and English expatriates on an excursion from Paris's Left Bank to Pamplona for the July fiesta and its climactic bull fight, a journey from the center of a civilization spiritually bankrupted by the First World War to a vital, God-haunted world in which faith and honor have yet to lose their currency, the novel captured for the generation that would come to be called "Lost" the spirit of its age, and marked Ernest Hemingway as the preeminent writer of his time.
Publisher: New York : Charles Scribner's sons, c1926
ISBN: 9780684102504
Branch Call Number: FIC Hemin 05
Characteristics: 247 p


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Sep 27, 2020

The title of this book is taken from Ecclesiastes 1:5, where the Preacher (Solomon) delivers a long and famous soliloquy on the emptiness, futility and meaninglessness of life. This is certainly exemplified by all the major characters of the story, who drift from one bar or night club to another, consume endless quantities of alcohol, and engage in drunken brawls; and whose relationships with each other are at best superficial and as short as their attention spans. They are like petulant, immature children, incapable of genuine feeling or emotion, who drift from one entertainment to another but all too soon are seeking some new thrill.

Even the “running of the bulls” in Pamplona is seen in this context, as they comment on the handsomeness of the toreros, the beauty of their “suits of light” (costumes), the fine points of their technique, the money they earn, and how “good” the bulls they face are, with nary a thought or observation about the danger, the bloodthirstiness of the crowds, or the absolute brutality and cruelty of this “sport”, if it can be called that. (Aside: in Arthur Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” one of the first decrees issued by the Overlords when they come to earth is one which bans bullfighting altogether. Good for them, and him!)

The superficiality of the characters and the total lack of a meaningful plot made this a very tedious and pleasureless read, and I am at a loss as to why it is regarded as Hemingway’s finest book (“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is much better), let alone as one of the “foundational pillars” of modern American literature. I cannot recommend a book where the author fails in any way to make the reader care about the protagonists. If in describing the generation that emerged from the Great War as the “lost generation” Gertrude Stein meant that they lacked any sense of meaning or purpose, self-control, or a moral compass in their lives, then this group is certainly exemplary of it; but it is difficult to believe that they were characteristic of the entire American expatriate community in the 1920’s, and it is appalling to think that Hemingway could have been suggesting that it was a virtue to live this sort of lifestyle. Perhaps some did live this way, but I think the majority who emerged from the Great War dug in their heels, raised their families through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, imparted positive values about hard work, thriftiness and moral accountability, and produced the Greatest Generation which saw the United States through the most extreme trial it was ever called upon to face.

Sadly, the lifestyle of the characters in this book mirrors in some respects the way Hemingway lived much of his own life, which ended with his suicide in Idaho in 1961 (four other family members, including his father, also took their own lives); and if any writer’s life could be described as “An American Tragedy” it was his. He produced many fine stories and novels, but if one is searching for writers of the 1920’s and 1930’s who will paint a vivid picture of American life, engage the mind, and uplift the spirit, then one is much better off with Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner, or, best of all, John Steinbeck.

Jan 28, 2020

~As if it isn't already known, Hemingway is & was, one of the great writers, even @ a young age. For the 1924 era, 6 yrs post WW1, this was a risqué novel for it's time. He only wrote about what he experienced. His stay in France & Spain with expatriates from Britain & the States gives for a portrayal of partying & an elusive, beautiful heroine. All traversing western Europe, free as a breeze, drinking, fishing, bull fights, carriage rides, train trips, etc. Would of loved to have been there with them. What a great time to be alive. The world was your oyster. He was ahead of his time.

Jul 09, 2019

The first bull was Belmonte’s. Belmonte was very good. But because he got thirty thousand pesetas and people had stayed in line all night to buy tickets to see him, the crowd demanded that he should be more than very good. Belmonte’s great attraction is working close to the bull. In bull-fighting they speak of the terrain of the bull and the terrain of the bull-fighter. As long as a bull-fighter stays in his own terrain he is comparatively safe. Each time he enters into the terrain of the bull he is in great danger. Belmonte, in his best days, worked always in the terrain of the bull. This way he gave the sensation of coming tragedy. People went to the corrida to see Belmonte, to be given tragic sensations, and perhaps to see the death of Belmonte. Fifteen years ago they said if you wanted to see Belmonte you should go quickly, while he was still alive. Since then he has killed more than a thousand bulls. When he retired the legend grew up about how his bull-fighting had been, and when he came out of retirement the public were disappointed because no real man could work as close to the bulls as Belmonte was supposed to have done, not, of course, even Belmonte (217–218).
If you want to know, I mean really want to know, modern American literature arose in the 1920s. It was born in 1922, with T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” spent its “younger and more vulnerable years” with F. Scott Fitzgerald, that is, up until 1925 (The Great Gatsby), and then spent the rest of the decade hanging out with Ernest Hemingway.
Bullfights, fistfights, titles derived from the Bible, gritty sacrifices for a cause, and fishing ensued.
Ostensibly, a novel about the happenings among a circle of young American expats in post-WWI Paris, [The Sun Also Rises] is now known as the novel of the Lost Generation. From Jake Barnes’ emasculating war wound, to the aimless and unfaithful Brett Ashley, to the ostracized Robert Cohn… the survivors of the Great War may have escaped with their lives, but not much else.
It’s a great novel, a revelation, five-stars, and my favourite Hemingway novel, too… despite the strange, arguably anti-Semitic and indefensible Robert Cohn passages.
Q: Who is the hero of the novel?
A: The Lost Generation afforded no heroes. All were lost or were broken in the War.
Q: Who is the witness of the novel?
A: Jake Barnes, I guess.
Q: In a few words, compare Fitzgerald and Hemingway?
A: The layers in Hemingway’s novels were more accessible, that aids in re-readability. His writings were full of life, colour, action, travel, and visceral texture (see the quote above). His prose was cleaner and more precise. His novels were all consistently good, as opposed to Fitzgerald, whose first two novels were arguably meh. The former critiqued religiously and the latter with a measure of ambivalence.
Q: And style?
A: Some British literary historians mock Hemingway’s “Iceberg theory,” his clean and clear and honest prose, and his abuse of conjunctions and punctuation. Fine. Hemingway’s prose might not be perfect, he was probably a jerk, but what a world to read and to live and to re-read.

HCL_featured Sep 19, 2018

"Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933)." from American Library Association

Jan 23, 2018

This is by far my favorite work of Hemingway's. If you are going to read anything by Hemingway, or have never read anything by him before and would like to, I would recommend this novel.

Nov 07, 2017

Just finished this book today. I must say, sometimes I wonder why Hemingway didn't just delve into the noir genre. The amount of masculinity in this story and all that is associated with living in 1920's France (and Spain of course) is astounding and everything that shaped Hemingway as a person and his writing style. The author of this book is not everyone's forte of course. In many parts of the book there's a lot more character interaction and less general narating and paragraphs. He is also known for very short sentences as well. But I really did enjoy this story and can't wait to see the movie adaptation that I have saved to my list.

Jun 13, 2017

Although otherwise well-written, I found the characters (and most of the dialogue) to be incredibly shallow and hard to relate to.

Mar 30, 2016

Eating, drinking, living, this is a classic Hemingway story. His style is clearly not for the majority of "modern people", but if you'd like a picture of 1920s Paris painted on your mind, read this book.

Mar 04, 2016

I agree fully with the comment by Spitlead. This book was a challenge to get through and left me feeling incredibly annoyed with the author by the end. The only question on anyone's mind that just so happens to NEVER get answered is: what is wrong with Jake Barnes?? Both in terms of his physical injury and whether or not THAT is the reason he never makes it with Brett Ashley, or is it some kind of mental incapability that keeps him in her permanent friendzone? His impotent pining over a woman he will never be with but will do anything for is incredibly pathetic and does nothing to endear the reader to the protagonist at all. What a wimp. Maybe the magic of this novel is lost on my 2016 viewpoint, or maybe I'm just 'not artistic enough' to get the point of this book, but it really seems to have NO point whatsoever. If Hemingway presented a book like this today to be published as a novel, he'd likely be told to just go be a travel writer. That said, it is clear the author was passionate about bullfights, and the only magical part of this novel is when he describes them in detail.

Jul 19, 2015

Since reading this story, I've been fantasizing about visiting Pamplona for the running of the Bulls. From what I gather it’s a long week of parties, feasts, wine-drinking, dancing, music, and bull fights. Sounds pretty horrible, right?

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Jun 28, 2016

ecarr1212 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 12, 2010

JASON L ROLLINS thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

Americans Brett and her drunken fiancé, Mike Campbell, boxer Robert Cohn, novelist Bill Gorton and narrator Jake Barnes leave the drinking and dancing in Paris for the Spanish town of Pamplona.


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Jun 28, 2016

Other: Lots of references to various types of alcohol (beer, absinthe, etc.) and several stages of drunkenness throughout.


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