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

 

 

 

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Visit To the Hemingway Collection in Boston Part 1

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Kennedy Library, home of the Hemingway Collection, Boston
Kennedy Library, home of the Hemingway Collection, Boston

I was in Boston for a few days and took the opportunity to visit the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library and Museum. It’s about 20 minutes depending on traffic from downtown in a cab but shuttle buses travel out there more inexpensively as well. It is right on the water and very modern as you can see.

The present exhibit at the Hemingway Collection is entitled Hemingway Between the Wars, which covers much if not most of his career. The Old Man and the Sea, The Dangerous Summer, A Moveable Feast, among others came after World War II, (some posthumously. Hem died in 1961 and A Moveable Feast came out in 1964, edited primarily by Hemingway’s surviving wife, Mary. Garden of Eden  was also posthumously published.) but The Sun Also Rises, Men Without Women, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many of the more famous short stories, i.e. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Green Hills of Africa, all were done between the wars.

Green hills of Africa
Green hills of Africa

Although Hemingway had his first great romance (with Agnes Von Kurowsky, his attending nurse after Hemingway was injured) during the war–not between the wars, the famous photo of her and Hemingway was in the exhibit. While I knew well that F. Scott Fitzgerald had done some serious editing on The Sun Also Rises and cut out the beginning and told Hemingway to start at a different place—and the rest is history—they had the actual letter Fitzgerald wrote to Hemingway expressing his disappointment at the beginning and making his suggestion to cut in strong terms. Uncharacteristically and probably because he was young and not yet confident, Hemingway did not resist and took Fitzgerald’s advice, much to the improvement of the book.

 1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Hem and Scott
Hem and Scott

 

There also was a list of titles that Hemingway considered for The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1936). For those of you not familiar with this story, it is set in Africa and was published in September 1936 in Cosmopolitan Magazine concurrently with The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The story was eventually adapted to the screen as “The Macomber Affair” (1947).

The story deals with a dysfunctional marriage between Francis and Margot who are on a big game safari in Africa with a professional hunter Robert Wilson. On his first time out, Francis had panicked when a wounded lion charged him, which humiliated him in front of his wife who took far too much pleasure in mocking him about his act of cowardice. It is suggested that she sleeps with Robert Wilson. The next day the party hunt buffalo. Two are killed and one is wounded and retreats. It’s generally bad form, not to mention cruel all around, to leave a wounded animal as it is, and Francis and Wilson proceed to track him so that they can put him out of his misery. When they find the buffalo, it charges Francis Macomber. He stands his ground and fires, but his shots are too high. At the last second Macomber kills the buffalo with his last bullet and Margot fires a shot from her gun, which hits Macomber in the skull and kills him. Good times!

Hadley
Hadley

(Sorry, as a divorce lawyer I sometimes have a dark sense of humor on relationships.) Anyway, at the exhibit, there is a list of some of the alternate titles that Hemingway considered such as Marriage is a Dangerous Game, A Marriage has Terminated, The Cult of Violence, Marriage as a Bond.

Happy

HAPPY On the Sea

Fitzgerald's advice typed up so we can read it easily. Actual handwritten letter was in the display.

 

TO BE CONTINUED Next POST!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE NEXT VOLUME OF HEMINGWAY’S LETTERS 1926-1929

Just when you think everything that can possibly be written about Hemingway or his life or his writing has been done, another level of knowledge is uncovered.

Writing
Writing

 

The third volume of Hemingway’s letters, which covers the period 1926 to 1929, has been published. Those were truly wonderful years. He wrote The Sun Also Rises in about six weeks—at least for the first draft—in 1926. It was published in 1927. These letters cover correspondence with some of the literary luminaries of the day as well as cover a very rich and turbulent period for Hemingway.

Hadley
Hadley

We are all familiar with the spare prose and tight structure of his writing. Consequently, his letters are surprisingly rambling and fun. He writes very honestly about his divorce from his first wife, Hadley, and of the pain of falling in love with a woman who became their mutual friend, Vogue journalist Pauline Pfeiffer. He also wrote of the drama of the birth of his first son, Patrick, by cesarean section during which Pauline almost died. It also was at this period of time that he relocated to Key West and completed his second book Men Without Women.

Hem and Hadley
Hem and Hadley

 

While Hemingway aficionados are familiar with his dislike of his mother throughout his life, it may be less well known that he was very fond of his father who killed himself. In the letter to Pauline’s mother following his father’s suicide, he wrote, “I was awfully fond of my father—and still feel very badly about it all and not able to get it out of my mind and my book into my mind.”

 

Seventy percent of the letters have never been published before. They reveal a side to Hemingway that has had very little exposure: his intense drive to be the best writer out there, his insecurities, his enjoyment of a little gossip. He wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald asking him to write “all the dirt.”

Hem and Scott
Hem and Scott

 

It also seems clear that the culminating event in A Farewell to Arms, i.e. Catherine’s death during childbirth—is based in large part on Pauline’s difficulties. At the end of A Farewell to Arms when the nurse asks Frederic Henry if he’s proud of his newborn son, Frederic’s response is almost verbatim from a Hemingway letter in which he replied, “No, he nearly killed his mother.”

 

Hemingway had always asked that his letters never be published, but his fourth wife Mary agreed to the publication of some and I’m not familiar enough with the details of the estate to know exactly how these came to be published.

Pauline
Pauline
I love these letters. read them.
I love these letters. read them.

Read the letters and enjoy. Also, if you’re in New York catch the exhibit that’s at the Morgan Library. You won’t regret it. Love, Christine

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Hemingway’s Seminal Novel issued with new Beginning

The Sun Also Rises did have a different beginning when Hemingway first wrote it. Apparently, Scott Fitzgerald suggested that Hemingway begin later in the story and crossed out the beginning Hem had slated for the novel. He followed that advice and the rest is history.

Or not. A new edition shows Hemingway’s original placement of paragraphs. For background, please see  Hemingway reworked.

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