January 2020 Guest Review
This month’s guest review of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway is once again from my dear friend, Clemence. I love so many classic novels. My favorites are To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and My Antonia by Willa Cather. Of course, there are quite a few “classics” that I didn’t like at all: The Scarlett Letter and Moby Dick come to mind immediately. There are numerous websites that list the top American Classics. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway is on every list I reviewed. Goodreads describes it as follows:
The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces, and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation…”
Here is Clemence’s book review of THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway:
On my way back from Memphis, I finished, “The Sun Also Rises.” The book is a narration by the protagonist Jake Barnes about his American and British ex-pat friends living in Paris in 1926.
At the beginning of the book, two quotations are given:
“You are all a lost generation,” – Gertrude Stein.
“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose,” – Ecclesiastes.
I had never heard of “The Lost Generation.” The “Lost Generation” is the generation that came of age during World War I. “Lost” in this context also means “disoriented, wandering, directionless” – a recognition that there was great confusion and aimlessness among the war’s survivors in the early post-war years. I really appreciated the quotation from Ecclesiastes as the book of Ecclesiastes describes how life is directionless without understanding God is sovereign in the affairs of men – “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.”
I got a third of the way through the book (via Audible.com) and – honestly – had to look, “The Sun Also Rises,” up in Wikipedia to find out what the plot was. After understanding that Hemingway was describing the thoughts of “The Lost Generation,” I understood why the plot was so difficult to discern.
The narration is tedious and doesn’t really get to the point. The storyline mirrors a trip that Hemingway, his 1st wife, and four of their friends took in 1925 from Paris to Pamplona to visit the Festival of San Fermin, to see the bull runs in the street, and to watch bullfights. There is also a side fishing trip. The book describes how they get drunk and have sex with multiple people.
If I like a book, I am always sad when I finish the book because I feel as if I am saying goodbye to a friend. However, I couldn’t wait to finish this book. On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give it a 3 because I did learn something I wouldn’t have without reading, “The Sun Also Rises,” – I learned about The Lost Generation.