Friday, November 5, 2010

November's books

#5, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

Just talked about this novel here, but it too was a product of that Modern Novel course. I had never read Hemingway before and fell in love with his elegant, clean prose style.

It is a book about expatriates, of course, and Paris, but also Spain and fishing and friendship and a lost world. Without being explicitly or whiningly about any of those things. Once I read it, I wanted to read more Hemingway and so worked my way through his short stories, which are simply brilliant.

The novel captures a period in negative ways, too. It displays misogyny, anti-semitism, homophobia, and racial prejudice, common to the era. I would argue that the author is aware of his (and his characters') prejudices and their casual privilege, even in a world of chaos; that he serves them up for the reader's eye as clearly and nakedly as he serves up their poignant emotions. It is, in the end, only the young bullfighter who is "authentic," and Hemingway lets us know it, even when he writes in the first person.

The best last line of a novel: "Yes," I said. Isn't it pretty to think so."

1 comment:

  1. I really like Hemingway. I know a lot of people, particularly women, don't, but I think he's more complex than people sometimes give him credit for. I agree with you about the author being aware of his characters' prejudices.


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