“The Lost Generation.” Following World War I a group of friends try to find some meaning in their lives as they hang out and party and drink in Europe.
I read and reviewed this book a little over five years ago, and I’ll use a lot of that review here because my thoughts about this book haven’t changed. This was one of the first books I read in college that made me realize that the ‘classics’ weren’t all dull because they sure seemed that way before I read this.
In 2016 I had this to say:
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. (Now 60.)
In this reading I was really struck by Hemingway’s minimalist style. I highlighted a number of passages this time, moments that work for Hemingway, but if I were to read them from any other writer, I’d assume the writer needed a better editor. For instance:
“The man who sold tackle was out, and we had to wait for him to come back. Finally he came in, and we bought a pretty good rod cheap, and two landing-nets.”
Why did we need to know the man was out and they had to wait for him? Nothing happened during that wait that was worth writing about. You write something like that in a college creative writing class and the teacher will draw a red line through that first sentence.
This is the third time I’ve read this book (and I generally don’t re-read books) and I definitely picked up more on the relationships and I rode more of an emotional rollercoaster toward Brett and Jake this time around.
Looking for a good book? If you haven’t read Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, correct that right now. If you have read this book, then it’s time to read it again.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Sun Also Rises
author: Ernest Hemingway
publisher: Penguin Classics
hardcover, 256 pages