Happy 90th to THE SUN ALSO RISES

Lovely article by Juan Vidal and what Hemingway’s debut novel meant to him. Best, Christine

From Pamplona, With Love: ‘The Sun Also’ Turns 90

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

Paperback, 251 pages |

But in my early 20s, someone mailed me a dusty copy of Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises. I’d never read anything quite like it — and haven’t since.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of that book. A masterpiece of the form, The Sun Also Rises is a rare feat in its power and restraint, its terse yet evocative sentences making a strong impression as I was beginning to hone in on my own love of words: “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it?” one character asks narrator Jake, an American newspaper reporter. “Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”

 

Ernest Hemingway: Not just some old white guy going on about a crusty fisherman.

Lloyd Arnold/Getty Images

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None of Hemingway’s other works, though some were good and even great, quite captured the idea of desire and longing that his debut does. But there’s also a blatant sadness that permeates the entire novel, which, in truth, is what attracted me more than anything. How could these depressed and oftentimes insufferable socialites be drawn so beautifully? And how on earth could such simple, stripped down prose carry this kind of emotional weight? Nathaniel Hawthorne says it best: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

But for me, it’s much more than that. When I read The Sun Also Rises – and I go back to it every few years — I’m instantly transported to Pamplona, where Hemingway’s characters go to watch the bullfights. I visited Pamplona as a kid with my family, and I too watched the bullfights, with my father — who in all honesty doesn’t deserve any more mention than that.

Except for the fact that he was the one who randomly sent me this wonderful book, more than a decade after we’d lost touch.

The Sun Also Rises, a title taken from Ecclesiastes, is like its author in that it means different things to different people. Sure, some might say that A Farewell to Arms is a better book, or that For Whom the Bell Tolls is a more sophisticated piece of literature, but they are wrong. And that’s in part because they didn’t visit Pamplona at a certain age, nor receive a random gift when they were young and impressionable, or they simply weren’t open enough to be floored by what Hemingway was doing with language and, dear God, dialogue.

The Sun Also Rises centers on the inner lives of that now-infamous group Gertrude Stein called the “Lost Generation,” but like all books it also holds personal meaning for each reader. Its pages make me recall the noise of a crowd cheering on a brave matador, the expectation I felt as a boy, even the dizzying smell of blood in the air. They remind me of my father, who never gave me much more than this perfect novel, which you might say is a hell of a lot.

Pamplona
Pamplona

 

 

 

New Book about The Sun Also Rises: Everyone Behaves Badly

No one defined masculinity more thoroughly than Ernest Hemingway, particularly in his best years, i.e. the 30’s and 40’s. I just read a review of a new book out by Lesley M. M. Blume, called “Everybody Behaves Badly:  The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece, The Sun Also Rises.” 

 

I always liked that quote from The Sun Also Rises. Maybe it’s just cynicism, but I prefer to think that it’s realism.  The end of that quote is “Everyone behaves badly—given the chance.”

In addition to discussing the real life people upon whom the characters in the book are based, Ms. Blume’s book discusses the issue of sexuality in “The Sun Also Rises” as well as in Hemingway’s posthumously published 1986 novel, The Garden of Eden with its gender-bending main characters well ahead of their time.  Hemingway was “one of the last authors to be a celebrity in his own right, back when ‘manly’ was a good thing.

Lesley Blume with Valerie HemingwayLMMB VH Plaza

 

The book attempts to answer the question of whether Hemingway’s persona of hyper-masculinity was real or fake and notes that “we haven’t solved the problem of how to be a man in the modern age and Hemingway was a caricature of the last generation’s attempt to do so, as Donald Trump may be of ours.” We no longer admire—thank God and for good reason—killing large animals in Africa or watching them die in bull fights. The concept of masculinity is complex and evolving.

Parenthetically, I highly recommend watching the documentary called The True Gen.  It’s about Hemingway’s friendship with Gary Cooper.  Gary Cooper apparently was always a gentlemen and Hemingway…wasn’t always restrained.  Yet, somehow they had an extremely strong friendship that lasted for a lifetime—which was a rarity for Hemingway—with Cooper at times forcing Hemingway to stop with the image and be real. Despite personalities that were almost polar opposites, both worked hard, were more sensitive that you might suspect, and hid parts of themselves for the image each wanted to project. It worked for them.  The movie is a gem and is well worth watching.I found it extremely touching. Cooper and Hemingway died 6 weeks apart: Cooper of cancer and shortly thereafter, Hemingway killed himself.

Coop
Coop

So the book by Lesley Blume sounds valuable and additive to Hemingway analysis. She knows the period well and I expect the book will ring true and be a load of fun to read.

Hemingway and Formula 1

Ernest Hemingway once said that there only existed three sports: mountaineering, bull fighting and motorsport. The rest, he said, were just games.

Without the fear of death, the sport to Hemingway was not such a challenge. Read more as well as about the decline of Formula 1.

Cover of LIFE
Cover of LIFE
Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner at bullfight
Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner at bullfight

 

Death in the Afternoon: What do we do about this?

In order to write about life first you must live it.
Ernest Hemingway

We don’t like bull fighting. It’s cruel. We care for and hope the bull will win. We, meaning Americans in general, don’t get it or understand how any civilized people could watch such a sport and actually sit through it and even applaud. I adore animals. I cannot watch the maiming and killings. So what did Hem see that we don’t?  He loved animals and he had great heart and empathy.

Matador
Matador

I have to start by noting that I have always found The Dangerous Summer, Hemingway’s chronicle of a summer following two competing bullfighters, to be a wonderful, original and absorbing book. It started as an Esquire article and expanded to the book. I really loved it but for the killing of the bull scenes.  I even understand and can accept the drama of the matadors, their dignity and honor.  As much as all of us shun this sport, please take a chance and read the book for the saga and adventure that it was.  It is excellent writing and you become part of the pageantry, of the training, and of the honor of being a bullfighter.

Spanish Civil war
Spanish Civil war

Pamplona of course is a key portion of The Sun Also Rises and Brett runs off temporarily with the young matador.  She then does her noble act of leaving him so as not to ruin him.  Because Spain and Pamplona are so wrapped in the Hemingway image and lore, it is important to know a bit about it, although not imperative to accept that bullfighting is in fact noble in its enactment of the life and death cycle.

So that brings us back to the old philosophical question: Must we avoid a writer because we hate his subject matter? My first post talks about how I don’t like hunting, fishing, war, bullfighting, heavy drinking and yet I love Hemingway.  How is that possible?  Because in the fewest words possible, Hemingway gets to the heart of what matters, what makes all of us tick, what it means to die and to live.  The arena may be war or fishing or bullfighting but it’s about love, hate, living and dying. Thus you don’t have to love his forums to love his books.

dog laughingdog laughedI just read in Hemingway’s Cats, a truly lovely book by the way, that Papa lost his love for big game hunting as well as for bull fighting in his last years. He chose later in life to photograph animals in Africa, not shoot them, and felt that bullfighting had become a commericial and depressing spectacle. I admire people who can change opinions and he could. Ah, just more for me to like.

By the way, I just came across the below which is some footage of Hem that I enjoyed. Please don’t take offence by the title of the link. I just copied it!  But it is a treat to see Hemingway moving, walking, in his home. Take a look. I loved it.

http://fuckyeahhemingway.tumblr.com/post/44461799990/literaryartifacts-ernest-hemingway

 

 

 

I LIKE it!
I LIKE it!