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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway, William Hurt Unpleasant people behaving badly (drinking too much), giving honor to a disreputable sport (bull fighting), plus a travelogue through 1920s France and Spain--that pretty well sums up my description of this book. Of course unpleasant people behaving badly can be the basis of an interesting story. So is this book a good read?

I read this book for two reasons. First, it is considered a classic. Second, I recently read "The Paris Wife by Paula McLain" which covers Hemingway's life during the time he wrote this book. That book suggested that "The Sun Also Rises" is pretty much based on Hemingway's real life activities and experiences. It was interesting is see how closely the fictional story of "The Sun Also Rises" paralleled that of Hemingway's. I'm convinced that the travelogue portion of the book is taken almost verbatim from notes taken from his trip to the bull fights of Pamplona, Spain from Paris in 1925. The book was published the following year in 1926. The combination of characters in this book somewhat approximates real life companions of Ernest Hemmingway though it's interesting to note that his wife does not show up in the fictional account. (Portents of the future of their marriage?)

If I didn't know that the novel was based on a real life trip, I'd probably be impressed with the writing. But since I have some insight into the story's background I can't help but wonder how much imagination is required to fictionalize real life experiences. I'll admit that I picked up a bit of anti-Hemingway sentiment from the McLain book, so I'm probably not being all that fair to Hemingway's writing.

The book supposedly is well known for its style, variously described as modern, hard-boiled, or understated. It is obviously not written in the style of 19th Century writing, so I suppose we should all be thankful for that. But, if it was my job to select which books were to be considered as classics, I'd have probably not picked this book. That just goes to show how little I know.

The title of the book is of Biblical origin. "The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to his place where he arose." (Ecclesiastes 1:5) I suppose it's possible with some imagination to create a reason why that's a good title for this particular book. But my question is, couldn't this title be applied to almost any other novel using the same level of imagination? Maybe that's why it's a good title.