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Next Up: The Sun Also Rises

Ah, my dear friend Ernest Hemingway.

In a list filled with the kings and queens of the long sentence—Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace, Malcom Lowry, William Faulkner—you, Ernest Hemingway, are a refreshing break.

Having already read The Sun Also Rises, I know what to expect from this novel. The story focuses on a group of American and British ex-pats who travel from Paris to Spain to go fishing and eventually watch bullfighting. Though I know what’s coming from the standpoint of the story, I am curious if I’m still as fond of Hemingway’s style as I was in college.

Reading Hemingway was one of my first experiences thinking that good writing doesn’t have to be complicated and formal and long-winded. College students, like myself at the time, tend to overwrite, to use flowery words, to overcomplicate their writing in an effort to sound “professional.”

But there’s nothing wrong with short and sweet and simple and casual. In fact, a lot of editors prefer that. More on all that in the coming weeks as I dig into The Sun Also Rises and Mr. Hemingway.

For now, some basic facts about this book and its legendary author:

  • The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926, was Ernest Hemingway’s first full-length novel.
  • Scribner’s initially published just over 5,000 copies of the novel and sold them for $2 a copy.
  • Hemingway wrote the book while living in Spain over a two-month period in the summer of 1925.
  • The novel is a roman a clef, meaning the characters and events are based on real people and real events.
  • With The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway perfected what he called the “iceberg theory” of writing, or the theory of omission. More to come about this.
  • The novel was adapted into a film starring Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner in 1957.
  • Hemingway passed away from suicide in 1961 while living in Ketchum, Idaho.

Seriously, guys, I have so much to talk about with Hemingway that I could probably start a blog just about Hemingway and have content for a year.

This guy fascinates me. Not only his novels and his writing style, but his life in general. So, much, much more to come about Ernest and The Sun Also Rises in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, what do you think about The Sun Also Rises?

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28 Comments Post a comment
  1. The sun also rises was my first Hemingway novel, followed by his complete work that I bought some years later. This novel has the charm of the lif e itself, and with Farewel to arms, are the best of his work.

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    March 27, 2013
  2. Thanks for the insights. can’t wait to get my hands on The Sun also Rises! 😀

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  3. I loved it. The style is simple, yet evocative. Perhaps, with the efforts of your blog, the Hemingway style will make a comeback. Isn’t it pretty to think so.

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  4. vrbridge #

    I have read many of Hemingway’s books over the years. You’re right about his sentence style. I was attracted to the simple structure, but the implied meanings behind the words he chose to use. His life was interesting, indeed. I can’t wait to see what you write about him.

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    March 27, 2013
    • Sad, but interesting life. I don’t know why so many great authors ending up killing themselves.

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      March 27, 2013
      • Carey #

        I’ve always felt it is because there is a thin line between genius and madness. 😉

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        March 27, 2013
  5. Love this book. Says so much with so little.

    I had no idea he committed suicide. Writing seems bad for that.

    I’m interested to hear about the theory of omission. Michael Ondaatje was just here in Edmonton and I got to hear him speak. He talked about omitting parts of the story. He said sometimes when revising, he would just take a whole section out. Maybe that’s why I found The English Patient so hard to follow 🙂

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  6. After reading any of his works, it takes me weeks to slough off the urge to imitate Papa’s style in my own writing.

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    March 27, 2013
  7. I was excited to see this on your list since I’m currently reading it and we had a similar impression of the Lord of the Flies. I’m guessing you were a Lost fanatic like me. After recently reading Dickens and Tolstoy, certainly not the kings of the long sentence, but their writing does have frequent “asides” as I’m doing here, his style was a bit jarring at first; however now I appreciate the brevity. Plus, I don’t have to re-read a sentence that drags on for half a page!

    Like

    March 27, 2013
    • Amen! And, yes, I was a Lost fanatic. Own the whole series on DVD.

      Like

      March 27, 2013
  8. Looking forward to your observations, Robert. Sun was my first (and so far only) exposure to Hemingway at full length and I came away impressed. He called it a book “about a bunch of drunks,” and it is that, but it’s also so much more. Speaking of his iceberg theory, in a paper I did for a masters degree class, I called the book “an almost love story,” by which I meant (and defended) that that phrase had two interpretations: a story of almost-but-never-quite love between Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes, and almost a love story between them and all the other key characters. I’ll be interested to see if you see that or if you disagree.

    Enjoy! (I know you will.)

    Like

    March 27, 2013
    • Sounds very accurate to me, Ross. About the “book of drunks” comment…it’s weird because they are drinking all the time, but I don’t feel like they’re trashed all the time. I don’t know if you’ve read Under The Volcano, but that was definitely a book about drunks!

      Like

      March 28, 2013
      • But they were more or less buzzed more or less all the time. One of the other themes of the book, of course, is that all the main characters are constantly trying to run away from their pasts, more or less unsuccessfully. Drinking is one of the ways they do that. Hem was too, maybe? And writing what he knew?

        Like

        March 28, 2013
  9. I haven’t read The Sun Also Rises. I’ve only read a few short stories (one of them the anthologized Hills Like White Elephants) and For Whom The Bell Tolls. Oh, and one forgettable novel (that I just remembered, ha!) published posthumously, The Garden of Eden. This latter work is supposedly the result of a “hatchet job” by the editorial staff who cut nearly two-thirds of the words that Hemingway had written. I read it when it first came out, maybe in the late 80s, and recall it being focused on hunting, and other “manly” pursuits–including women. The female characters were cardboard cut-outs that I didn’t “buy” at all. I just pulled The Sun Also Rises off my bookshelf, and I’ll try to read while traveling during spring break.

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  10. I read it back when I was a teenager and have been loving it ever since, marking the transition of Hemingway from an author “to be read in english class”(1) to an author kept on my nightstand. I agree to Ross calling it an “almost love story”, the characters keep being some kind of emotional barflies. In Hemingway’s autobiographic “Paris a moveable feast”, Getrude Stein uses her well known term “génération perdue” for them, mainly because they are disillusioned and traumatized due to their world war experience.
    1) as first foreign language.

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  11. cnrangel #

    The Sun Also Rises is one of my favorite books. I read it the summer after my first year at college and I try to read it every summer. I love how simple it is. I also love that every time I reread it, I have a deeper appreciation for the book.

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  12. I’m on about page 50 of Farewell to Arms and finding less than inspiring. Please tell me it gets better…..

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  13. I put my own review of The Sun Also Rises on my blog last week – sorry to say I could not stand it!

    Like

    March 27, 2013
  14. Carey #

    What is your favorite Hemingway?

    Like

    March 27, 2013
    • I would say this one and For Whom The Bell Tolls. I never really got into Old Man and the Sea.

      Like

      March 28, 2013
  15. kbeck13 #

    I have not read any Hemingway and I hang my head in shame…This was a great post and I look forward to reading more of your insights. Hemingway is definitely on my list of books to read I just haven’t got there yet. You have lit the fire within me and I will be picking up a Hemingway book as soon as I’m done with the book I’m currently reading. Thanks for this.

    Like

    March 28, 2013
  16. We disagree about college football and our preferred pets, but I am absolutely on the same page with you on Hemingway. In my opinion, Hemingway just keeps getting better the more I read and reread his work. I’m really looking forward to your posts about The Sun Also Rises.

    Like

    March 28, 2013
  17. I’ve always tried to become a Hemingway fan. His pace is a little too slow for me. But you’re absolutely right about college students overwriting. I’ve learned that since college writing is more enjoyable and fun because I’m not trying to be professional. Great post! Excited to start following.

    Like

    March 28, 2013
  18. I read my first Hemingway (Old Man and the Sea) about two months ago and was fascinated by his simple but meaningful language. Every word seems to be at the exact right place! I’m sure it was not my last book of him.
    Looking forward to your thoughts and insights on Hemingway.

    Like

    March 29, 2013
  19. desfischersseele #

    In German this book is called “Fiesta” and I loved it to read, every time I did it. But, in my opinion, the best book hemigway had ever writen is “The olf man and the sea”, followed by “For whom the Bells tolls”.

    Like

    June 7, 2013

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