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The Sun Also Rises ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (45)

Hemingway's fame seems to rest largely on being the anti-Joyce & on his boisterous lifestyle.  At a time when authors like James Joyce were using denser & denser thickets of language & increasingly nonlinear plots to obfuscate the novel, Hemingway brought a direct reportorial style to his writing.  But, to what end?

This is the story of a loose group of American & British expatriates in Paris & Spain in the 1920's.
They lounge about cafes, drinking wine, bickering, brawling & lusting after Lady Bret Ashley.  None of the characters are at all likable and nothing really happens.

Without delving too deeply into psychobabble, the most interesting facet of the book is that the first person narrator, Jake Barnes, was emasculated during WWI.  Considering the absurdly self-destructive ends to which Hemingway went to prove that he was macho & the widespread perception that his suicide was fueled by self-loathing over his repressed homosexuality, the book is perhaps most interesting as an artifact of his tortured psyche.


Grade: (C-)


Ernest Hemingway Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Ernest Hemingway
-ESSAY: “My Life in the Bull Ring with Donald Ogden Stewart” (Ernest Hemingway on October 25, 2013, Vanity Fair)
    -ESSAY: Executing the Ministers: the young Hemingway and a Greek tragedy (Jeffrey Meyers, 10/31/21, The Article)
-REVIEW ESSAY: Hemingway’s Consolations: It’s preposterous to think of Hemingway, with his best sellers and personal celebrity, as a writer’s writer. But is it possible that this might be the best description of his status today? (Elaine Blair, September 23, 2021 issue, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: HEMINGWAY'S POLITICS WERE NO SECRET—JUST READ HIS ONLY CRIME NOVEL: To Have and Have Not, Hemingway's patchwork Depression-era crime novel, was the story of one man's radicalization (DAVID MASCIOTRA, JANUARY 5, 2021, Crime Reads)
    -ESSAY: A Death in the Afternoon (Tobias Wolff, February 20, 2021, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: When Ernest Hemingway Hunted Nazi U-Boats in the Caribbean: Hemingway the novelist got the story he wanted, even if Hemingway the sub chaser failed to net his prey. (Warfare History Network, 2/05/21)
    -INTERVIEW: Ken Burns Talks to Jacobin About the Radical Ernest Hemingway: From fighting alongside communists in the Spanish Civil War to backing revolutionaries in Cuba, documentarian Ken Burns shows us the radical side of writer Ernest Hemingway in the new PBS docuseries Hemingway. Burns talks to Jacobin about Hemingway’s forgotten left-wing politics and why the writer still matters. (Ed Rampell, 3/23/21, Jacobin)
    -REVIEW: of Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises & Other Writings, 1918–1926, Edited by Robert W. Trogdon (Frank Freeman, University Bookman)
    -REVIEW: How to Tackle a Bullying, Alcoholic, Racist Named Hemingway: Ken Burns and Lynn Novick portray an insecure, vain, depressed, unfaithful, visionary modernist in PBS’s “Hemingway”, and reframe his complicated place in the literary canon. (Scott Porch, Daily Beast)
    -REVIEW: How Much Do We Still Owe to Ernest Hemingway?: He changed American fiction, and then America moved on. (LAURA MILLER, APRIL 05, 2021, Slate)
    -REVIEW: The Many Paradoxes of Ernest Hemingway (KYLE SMITH, National Review)
    -REVIEW: Finding Hemingway: Seeing the Self Behind the Self-Mythologizer: Alex Thomas on Lynn Novick and Ken Burns’s New Documentary (Alex Thomas, April 14, 2021, Lit Hub)
    -REVIEW: Hemingway’s American Life And Death: Ken Burns’s six-hour PBS documentary on the master of sparing prose misreads his relation to the nation and the world. (Declan Leary, American Conservative)
    -REVIEW: Busting the Hemingway myth: A new documentary breaks new ground by exploring the American writer’s mental health and gender fluidity—but it still doesn’t go far enough (Lucinda Smyth, June 29, 2021, Prospect)

Book-related and General Links:
-Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, IL
    -Timeless Hemingway
    -The Hemingway Resource Center, v2.0
    -G Files: Subject: Ernest Miller Hemingway (APB Online)
    -Michigan In Hemingway: A Sense of Place
    -Hemingway Sites on the Net
    -The Hemingway Collection
    -Kansas City Star Stories by Ernest Hemingway
    -The Papa Page
    -Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
    -Hemingway Society
    -Authors Online: Ernest Hemingway  (Book Spot)
    -INTERVIEW: At Lunch with Ernest Hemingway (The Atlantic)
    -Tracking Hemingway: Atlantic articles from 1939 to 1983 -- by Edmund Wilson, Malcolm Cowley, Alfred Kazin, and others (The Atlantic)
    -ESSAY: The Private Hemingway (NY Times Magazine)
    -Wilfrid Sheed: Desperate Character (NY Review of Books)
    -Frederick Crews: Pressure Under Grace (NY Review of Books)


If you had read "A Moveable Feast", you'd know how wrong your "anti-Joyce" statement is being that they were good friends in Paris. Also, a literary review citing a hearsay-stricken rumour on homosexuality is not a literary review. Sounds more like gossip from "People" magazine. Read about his electroshock treatments, his impotence, his loss of memory and his loss of the ability to write and you might find a more grounded reason as to why he killed himself.

- -----

- May-17-2006, 16:02


orrin's review of this book is the most absurd review that I have ever read and that is saying A LOT considering the trash found on this webiste. what a hack.

- tom mf

- Feb-03-2006, 19:05


They usually give them for political correctness.

- Alex

- Nov-10-2005, 07:55


Try reading the book without any preconceived notions. The "Iceberg" style does not lend itself to you imposing your thoughts personally about the author and relating them to what is taking place in the novel. Whatever you think of the man, they don't give Nobel prizes in literature "for his mastery of the art of narrative" to those who can't separate fact from fiction.

- Alex

- Nov-09-2005, 22:09


Thanks for the honesty. His work is not good, he wrote in a drunken stupor and basically as said his reputation is what has sold books and labeled him as a great writer. The book sucked!

- Shawn

- Jun-25-2005, 12:44


How can you say the word "psychobabble" in a literary review and expect to be taken seriously? I don't like the book too much either, but you could stand to be more articulate.

- weston

- May-01-2005, 19:17


this book is not an easy read. you have to be able to sit down and read it with a pen and paper and take notes so you can look back and remember what you read.

- ashley

- Feb-03-2005, 15:07


I think that you've failed to see some really important aspects of The Sun Also Rises. It's not just a book where people drink, bicker, brawl, etc. Jake is a character who is trying to figure out how to live in a post-war world where traditional values have come into serious question. There is a belief implied that these older abstract values, that are accepted a priori, need to be replaced by values that are determined through and tested by one's actual experience. If you read closely, you will notice that there are two groups of characters: 1. those who are insiders and who understand the values that guide a certain code of conduct, and 2. those who are outsiders who do not understand or demonstrate these values. Money is a key metaphor here, so you should look at how different characters are described based on how they earn (or don't earn) what they spend, and how different characters spend their money (either carelessly or carefully). This is NOT to say that the novel is all about money--it's not. Money is just one of the motifs used to illustrate the much more important issue of determining the values that guide one's conduct.

Hemingway's "simple" style is deceiving. A person could go on for pages and pages about the complexity of this book. In fact people have--there are many books written about Hemingway's work. You might want to check them out. Obviously I think there is much, much more going on this novel than you give it credit for! I suggest you read it again and pay attention to details beyond the obvious action of the plot.


- Apr-02-2004, 23:48


It's easy to pick on someone when they're dead. Why is it so hip to go after him now? He wasn't anti-Joyce. Especially from Dubliners Hemingway took a great deal, such as the repetition of key words, and the ordering of syntax whereby perceptions are recorded in the order in which they are perceived by the consciousness of the character. He learned even from Henry James, though he may have scooped out with a shovel all the Jamesian qualifiers that can be maddening.

As to the Old Man and the Sea, I once read it aloud to a class of delinquents and their rough spirits were pacified, and why shouldn't a Cuban dream of lions, when they serve as the example of courage he aspires to, even if he'd only seen their image on crests or flags.

The Sun Also Rises depicts like a psychiatric diagnosis the histrionic personality disorder of Lady Brit and how it drives all the men mad who try deperately to love her. She ends up wanting Jake Barnes because his penis was shot off; hence, making the love affair impossible. She's like Emma Bovary. Nothing on this earth will ever satisfy her. Yes, nothing happens in the book. What's happening in your life?

And why have I been sucked into this? Read him aloud.

- Robert Earleywine

- Apr-01-2004, 17:00


I absolutely disagree with your reviews of both THE SUN ALSO RISES and A FAREWELL TO ARMS. I think they are masterpieces and that Hemingway was a gifted writer. In addition, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is nothing but a bogus book. At that point in Hemingway's life he had lost it, the ability to write, due to all the plane crashes he survived (too many concussions, etc.). Another reason, in my opinion, the book is a fake is he has the old fisherman, Santiago, dreaming of lions. Huh? An old cuban who had never set foot off the island is going to have dreams of Africa and lions? I don't think so. That was Ernie dreaming of past trips to Africa and the lions... I could go on about this book...but won't.

Regarding Ernie's macho image: sure, some of that was exaggerated, but so what? It was a good way to promote his books. I call that just being smart about the whole thing. After all, he was taught to fish and hunt at a young that whole lifestyle was not alien to him. He loved fishing for marlin, loved going to Africa to hunt...very little of that was for show. He lived the life he loved. Why some people can't accept that boggles the mind. Where's the mystery? Why is something this simple and obvious so difficult to understand? Also, to accuse the guy of having been a repressed homosexual is about as ridiculous a statement as I have ever heard. Where's the proof? Anybody can say anything about anybody these days and the rest of us are supposed to accept it as gospel. Give me a break, please. I don't say I liked everything Hemingway wrote...but what I believe and always will believe is just this: Ernest Hemingway was a genius and one of America's greatest writers. Noone will ever be able to take that away from him.

- K.A.

- Feb-13-2004, 07:06


Amen, man! Ernest Hemingway's novels and depressing style has frustrated me for years. Finally, somebody who doesn't think he's some kind of a god!

- Carolyn

- Oct-07-2003, 19:55