THROWBACK THURSDAY: REVIEWING A REISSUE
About two years ago I came to the sad discovery that Ernest Hemingway’s books were not available in electronic format. I’m sure book purists wouldn’t get upset about that, but I was looking to pick up a copy, quickly, for a child who needed to quote from this book in a paper, but didn’t have his copy with him. Not long after this, I discovered that this particular book was scheduled for a digital release, and then, not too long after that, I managed to be approved for a digital copy through Netgalley.
Do we really need to ‘review’ an Ernest Hemingway book? His work is still read and studied in colleges and high schools. People either like him or they don’t … there isn’t a lot of middle ground.
Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is a novel of the ‘Lost Generation’ — a generation that came of age during World War I. it is the story of a group of friends, British and American, who seem to have very few cares in the world other than one another. The men look to be as masculine as they can be, and the women flirtatious and non-committal.
The main character, Jake Barnes, struggles with the loss of his manhood during the war, but harbors a passion for Lady Brett Ashley. Brett hasn’t been patient and has had an affair with one of Barnes’ friends … a Jew (as Hemingway constantly reminds us) … Robert Cohn. This has created tension among the group of friends, with Cohn constantly hanging just on the periphery of the friendship circle.
It was good to read this book again. I last read it maybe thirty-plus years ago while in college. I enjoyed it then, also enjoying the teacher’s shared insight into the book. Now, it was a pleasant reminder as to why I liked it so much, but it also struck some new chords, in this man in his fifties.
But, why is there a reissue worthy of review? Because this particular edition includes some of Hemingway’s early notes and drafts of the book.
In a book of minimalist nature, such as this, it is sometimes easy to imagine that there wasn’t a lot of re-writing involved, but looking at some of the early versions and cut chapters, we can practically see into Hemingway’s mind as he shapes the novel.
Reading what had initially been the first chapter, I was taken with the direction the novel might have gone in had the chapter stayed. I also could see Hemingway’s cutting and paring to create his famous minimalist style.
It is definitely worth reading the book again (or for the first time if you haven’t) so that it is fresh in your mind as you thumb through this treasure. Had this version been available to me when I first read the book I imagine there would have been some wonderfully energetic discussions in our class regarding some of the things Hemingway cut from the novel.
I highly recommend this book — both for the classic tale and for the supplements providing a look at Hemingway’s process into creating the classic.
Looking for a good book? This new release of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises includes cut chapters and early drafts of the book and makes for a wonderfully enhanced reading of the book.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, though Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Sun Also Rises
author: Ernest Hemingway
hardcover, 320 pages