Book Review: The Sun Also Rises

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Happy election day, everyone!

Or...not so happy.  Oh well.
I'm too young to vote by one year.  Which is rather a good thing because I strongly dislike both candidates and so I'm thankful I don't have to choose!

Yesterday, I finished reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

This is a book my dad brought to me and told me I should read.  It's about "the lost generation"...a group of Americans who roamed around Europe.  They lived bohemian lifestyles, just going from town to town, writing and having a good time.

I must say, the writing is classic.  After reading even a few sentences, it's clear the author is Hemingway, what with his minimalistic descriptions, emphasis on dialogue and over abundance of language.  Plus, most of what the characters said regarded gin, scotch or women.  Again, classic Hemingway.

While I appreciated the writing, this was one of those books that really surprised me. There seemed to be very little plot.  Most of the book was describing the journey from Paris to Spain and then a fishing trip and then many chapters spent on bull fights, all of which greatly bored me.  In the end, I was rather disappointed with this book for its lack of intrigue, though the actual prose itself was quite gratifying.

One thing I found interesting was the aimlessness of the characters actions.  Jake, Mike, Robert and Lady Brett Ashley seem to have no real point to anything they do.  All actions are on the whim.  In one part, they just randomly decide to pack up and go to San Sebastian because they feel like it.  But they all seem to sense a lack of purpose and therefore adopt a sort of "anything goes" mindset.  

I wonder if Hemingway was trying to make a point about the wandering lifestyle, about not settling down and doing something important.  It definitely made me think! ;)

One more thing: Jake struggles with his identity in the book because of his wound in the war.  (He was left infertile.)  Jake feels the burden that he has lost his masculinity, that he is less of a man.  This is especially because he and Lady Brett are in love - she admits this and yet refuses to enter into a relationship with him.

This leads me to my question.  What defines masculinity?  How do cultural perceptions change?  Did Jake really lose his manliness because of the accident in the war?


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