The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway – A Book Review

I read this novel roughly six years ago, and found recently I couldn’t remember anything about it whatsoever.  So, being the borderline compulsive reader I am, I instantly picked it up and read it again.  I think perhaps the reason the story didn’t stick out to me much from those years ago is because there isn’t much of a story to speak of.  I realize Hemingway is a master of American literature and is revered by legions, but I simply am not impressed with The Sun Also Rises.  Our characters are disillusioned members of the Lost Generation, those people who experienced WWI, and residing as expatriates who enjoy the many lavishes of France and Spain.  I admit, this could be quite an interesting premise, and although the bullfighting sequences are exciting near the end of the novel, the rest of it is not much more than a lot of arguing and drinking.  They discuss, they drink, they eat, they argue, they move to another café, they drink, they eat.  And so on.

I’ve studied Hemingway.  I know the accolades he received for an evolving style and for changing the way many people look at prose.  I understand he stripped away a great deal of fluff in order to get to the core of his subjects.  I know all this.  I’m afraid it does not change my opinion.

Jack Barnes, our narrator, and Brett Ashely, the lady friend he loves, simply did not illicit any sort of emotional response from me, nor did their story.

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4 thoughts on “The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway – A Book Review

  1. […] 28, 2008 in books I’d like to take a moment to respond to this book review of The Sun Also […]

  2. Jennifer says:

    This is my first Hemingway novel, and I am utterly disappointed with his style of writing. I feel that I could have written about a bunch of drunks during the Lost Generation in the same manner, with as much lack of creativity as Hemingway did. All of the characters are identical in personality (or lack of), and the story seemed to drag on endlessly. Wait a minute there, story? Now that I mention the story, the real plot of this novel, there is none. I feel as if I’ve wasted 250 pages on a bunch of drunken, angry Frenchmen and Spainards, and gotten a horrid first impression of who is said to be one of the greatest, most influential American writers of all time. Bummer.

  3. Hi Jennifer,

    As an English teacher, I KNOW I’m supposed to love Hemingway – but I don’t. I just can’t get into his subject matter. I encourage you to try another of his books, just to be sure, but don’t get your hopes up. Be sure to let me know what you think of his other work if you do give it a go.

  4. s donaghy says:

    Hello Scott, I partially agree with you and I tire of Brett’s repeated words and phrases such as “bitch, what a pity, Oh, rot!” and many more of her superficial 3-word statements. This style is probably leftover from the tough speaking cigarette smoking women of the forties exemplified also in the movies. But you can’t argue with what I feel a most beautifully written sentence. Goes like this “The train started with a jerk, and then ran smoothly, going down grade around the edge of the plateau and out into the fields of grain that blew in the wind on the plain on the way to Trafella.” I enjoyed visiting the streets of Paris again. It was quite an adventure; arguments, violence, the dynamics of youth, sexual tension and alcohol. It drew me in.

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