The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises is a novel by Ernest Hemingway, following a group of expatriate Americans in Europe during the 1920s. The novel is in a narrative style, and the plot has been said to meander widely, but Hemingway's style and the detail with which he describes each scene is well-regarded. A famous scene from the book, detailing the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain helped popularise that event in English-speaking culture.

Hemingway was apparently inspired to write the novel after reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's manuscript of The Great Gatsby, which Fitzgerald brought to Paris in 1925. Prior to this, Hemingway, who only wrote short stories and poems, had frequently declared that the novel was an obsolete form which did not interest him.

The novel is a powerful exposé of the life and values of the Lost Generation, including characters Jake Barnes and Brett Ashley, wounded by the horrors of World War I. Barnes was told: "You... have given more than your life" when he lost his penis in the War. Because of this, he is unable to have sexual relations with Brett.

The novel was a roman à clef, with most of the characters based on Hemingway and a gaggle of pals who accompanied him to Spain in 1925. The character of Robert Cohn is a savage portrait of novelist Harold Loeb, who had aroused the anger of Hemingway by indulging in an amorous sojourn with Lady Duff Twysden in Normandy before bringing her to Spain. Twysed was turned into the character Brett Ashley. Hemingway based the character of Barnes on himself.

The novel has a heavy undercurrent of suppressed emotions and buried values pulsing beneath the surface. It depicts through the shell-shocked and aimless expatriates, the story of humanity losing the broad optimism in itself as a consequence of the war, and instead taking refuge in the narrow dungeons of everyday survival, to find a purpose for existence. Nevertheless, there is an almost jarring silence on the war itself, which is rarely spoken about by the characters, but whose scars are evident with every scene.

Also, Hemingway was fluent in three romance languages: French, Spanish, and Italian. Each of these has a much smaller vocabulary than English, and yet each manages to be richly expressive. Talking about Brett and Mike’s speech, Jake Barnes tells us that "The English spoken language—the upper classes, anyway—must have fewer words than the Eskimos. . . . The English talked with inflected phrases. One phrase to mean everything. . . . I liked the way they talked." Hemingway may have been inspired by the ways in which these European cultures, all of which he admired, managed to communicate effectively, even poetically, using so few words.

The book's title is taken from Ecclesiastes 1:5, but it was selected by Hemingway's publisher. Hemingway's selected title for the novel was "¡Fiesta!"


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