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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book by Hemingway
I recently read this novel again, and again I found it an evocative, mesmerising, and absolutely brilliant description of Paris and Spain in the interwar years.

Hemingway was a master at tight yet superb prose. He really could conjure up the dusty ride on top of a bus, on the road in Northern Spain, the peasants passing round the skin full of wine. He puts you...
Published on 18 April 2006 by Morris

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The genius lies in the observant, yet simple storytelling
Following all the hype of Hemingway's birth last year, this was my first attempt to understand the allure of the man. Aptly, this was his first novel. What I found was a very economical telling of a story that at first seems very simple, but then develops into quite a complex tale.
On the negative side, some of the narrative was too matter-of-fact; and I often got...
Published on 6 Feb 2000


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book by Hemingway, 18 April 2006
By 
Morris (Cote d'Azur) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic) (Paperback)
I recently read this novel again, and again I found it an evocative, mesmerising, and absolutely brilliant description of Paris and Spain in the interwar years.

Hemingway was a master at tight yet superb prose. He really could conjure up the dusty ride on top of a bus, on the road in Northern Spain, the peasants passing round the skin full of wine. He puts you right there, sitting outside at the cafe during the Fiesta, everyone getting drunk, the fireworks going off, the young men taking their chances as they run in front of the bulls.

Hemingway was a genius, a term used much too frequently and easily today.

I also recomend the biography 'Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences' by James R. Mellow. Gives the reader a better understanding of the world in which he lived.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masculinity, machismo and matadors..., 1 Aug 2014
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sun Also Rises (Kindle Edition)
Written in 1926, Hemingway's characters are part of the 'lost generation' - those young people so emotionally damaged by WW1 that they are left drifting and purposeless, leading lives of dissolute recklessness. We first meet our narrator, Jake Barnes, in Paris, where he works as a journalist. Jake and Lady Brett Ashley love one another, but Jake has been left impotent by a war injury, and Brett is not the kind of woman who could be happy in a relationship that didn't offer her sexual fulfilment. So Brett embarks on a string of sexual adventures, usually with friends of Jake's, while Jake drinks. And drinks. And drinks. Actually, so does Brett. And by about a third of the way through the book, I was toying with the idea of knocking back three bottles of wine, a couple of brandies, and an absinthe or two myself. (But then the 'lost generation' usually has that effect on me - privileged, feckless wasters living off Daddy's money, and blaming their dissipated lifestyles on the war. Poor ex-soldiers, of course, just had to go home, get a job and get on with things - they couldn't afford to get 'lost' in Paris or Spain. Poverty is such a great sat-nav.)

When Paris begins to run low on alcohol, Jake and a loose group of friends and acquaintances, including Brett and her fiancé, make their way to Pamplona in Spain for the annual bull-fighting fiesta. There is a lot of alcohol available in Spain, of all different kinds, and this, together with the fact that every man in the party has either slept with Brett or wants to, leads to lots of macho posturing - not unlike the more formalised posturing that takes place between the matador and the bull. Surprisingly enough, Lady Brett seems to quite like matadors...

Hemingway's writing style is an odd mix of sometimes overly simplistic prose with occasional passages of real beauty. Some of the dialogue is mind-numbingly trite - repetitive and dull - and he gets fixated on details from time to time, like how much a bottle of wine cost or what each person ate. I tired very quickly of the endless descriptions of binge-drinking and drunken quarrelling. But some of the descriptions are excellent - the dusty journey to Pamplona, the passengers met by chance en route all merge to become a strikingly vivid picture of a particular place and time. As they all sit around drinking in Pamplona, I felt I could see the various cafés and bars clearly, almost smell them. The interactions between the ex-pats and the natives are brilliantly portrayed, particularly the growing disapproval from the real aficionados when Brett's behaviour begins to threaten the traditions of the bullfight. And as for the arena itself, I found I was unexpectedly fascinated by his depiction of the rituals around the running of the bulls and the bullfighting.

The same patchiness applies to the characterisation. I'm not at all sure what he was trying to achieve with Lady Brett's character - but I'm pretty sure he didn't achieve it. She didn't come over as a real person to me at all. Her permanent drunkenness and ridiculously promiscuous behaviour may have made many men want to sleep with her, but the idea that they all fell in love with her was a stretch too far. I felt as if she was a puppet rather than a character, her behaviour merely a device to provide reasons for strains and tensions to develop amongst the group of men.

I'm sure screeds have been written about the blatant anti-Semitism in the book and I must say I wasn't overwhelmingly thrilled by his stereotyping of his Scottish character either. But honestly both characterisations seemed to me more like lazy regurgitations of racial caricatures than any kind of active racism, and it was the 1920s, so no doubt they seem more shocking to us now than they would have been then. In fact, I wasn't at all sure that he wasn't attempting to gently ridicule the prevailing anti-Semitism of his time - but if that was his intention, by leaving it ambiguous, again I feel he failed.

However, I feel we get to know Jake well and some of the others come over as fairly well-rounded. There is a good deal of subtlety in the way he slowly reveals Jake to us as the most resilient of them all - the one who is physically damaged, but with the most emotional strength in the end. The whole 'there's more than one way to be masculine' message may seem obvious in retrospect but it's actually fed through in a gradual and almost understated way, and I felt I only really saw what Hemingway was doing as I looked back at the book after finishing.

I'm going to confess that in the end the book impressed me considerably more than I expected. Despite my many criticisms, I found it an absorbing read that drew me into the world Hemingway was describing and made it a believable one; and my appreciation for it actually grew in the few days after I had finished reading it. I feel that it needs to be approached like an impressionist painting - when you're close enough to see the detail it all looks a bit messy and it's hard to make out the picture. But stand back a bit and the details recede - the constant descriptions of drunkenness, the repetitiveness, the banality of the dialogue - and the picture that emerges of a damaged man metaphorically rising from the ashes through a kind of examination of maleness is really quite compelling after all. 4½ stars for me, so rounded up.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Scribner.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The genius lies in the observant, yet simple storytelling, 6 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic) (Paperback)
Following all the hype of Hemingway's birth last year, this was my first attempt to understand the allure of the man. Aptly, this was his first novel. What I found was a very economical telling of a story that at first seems very simple, but then develops into quite a complex tale.
On the negative side, some of the narrative was too matter-of-fact; and I often got lost (and bored) with some of the pointless dialogue.
More positively, the magnificent decription of the detail of bull-fighting, with the pride and dedication of the bull-fighters and their aficiandos, the grubby detail of Spain and the romanticism of an American in the Old World, made this a very enjoyable read. Coupled with the amorality of the aristocratic Brett and the (for the time) expected anti-Semitic views, this is very much a book of its era, but still with something to offer to a new generation of readers.
I can't wait to read "The Old Man and the Sea" now.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Utter Brilliance, 8 April 2010
This review is from: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic) (Paperback)
This novel is a work of complete literary genius, Hemingway certainly writing at the standard which throws other acclaimed novelist's into shadow. Although some people may be excused for having trouble getting into Fiesta, it is inexcusable not to at least finish this novel.

As the plot progresses one is drawn into the lives of the main characters and the cultures of Spain, France and the Basque Country. The intricate detail and superb and eloquent methods Hemingway uses to tell the tale of Jake and his compatriots excels at making this a novel which will mark your life forever. It is a novel written that is outstanding and timeless for it distinctly interweaves perfectly the reader seamlessly into the life and times of the people whose lives we see play out before us.

I cannot possibly recommend this novel enough, don't pay attention to those philistines who don it merely with one star and sample the great work of Hemingway for yourself. You wont regret it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugly book, 13 May 2013
By 
A A. Brookes (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sun Also Rises (Paperback)
I've only got to about chapter four, and so far the writing is wonderful, a complete joy.

This is not a review of Hemingway, this is a review of the publisher.

If you enjoy the physical presence of books as well as the words they contain, this edition is going to make you die inside just a little every time you look at it. It is a truly hideous thing, the publisher has even spelled the word available (availible) incorrectly on the back cover.
My recommendation is to look for a different edition. I have actually bought another one just so that I don't have to look at this one again.

Happy reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Isn't it pretty to think so?, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic) (Paperback)
I read most of Hemingway's novels (and a couple of biographies of him) when a lot younger, but hadn't got around to this one until now. It was the book which brought Hemingway wide popularity: if it's hard to appreciate the impact it had when it appeared eighty years ago, that's probably because of the way in which literature has been influenced by his hard-bitten, stoical, laconic style. The tale of a group of aimless and dissolute expatriates who visit Pamplona for the San Fermin festival and bullfights acts as a vehicle for the description of the loss of innocence and burying of emotions following the Great War. The story is also a roman a clef, since there's a fairly exact correspondence between its characters and the participants in Hemingway's 1925 trip to Spain (with the notable exception of his then-wife, Hadley).

I enjoyed reading the book for the author's characteristically terse yet exact descriptions of landscape, weather and nature, and of the narrator's feelings; there's a wonderfully memorable account of a trout fishing trip and a solitary visit to San Sebastian, for example. Although it's the central part of the story, I was somewhat less interested in the interactions of the unhappy characters, and the description of the bullfighting, which is elevated by the author into something mystical. This is an intriguing idea, but its execution is slightly spoiled by the suspicion that he's also showing off his knowledge of the mechanics of the ritual (although these were admittedly less widely-known at the time the book was written). This is made explicit in one scene where the narrator proudly describes how he provided his love interest with a explanatory running commentary on the bullfight as it was taking place. It's understandable, but you can't help thinking that you'd be tempted to ask him to shut up and let you form your own impressions of what was going on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the simpleness of his writing that keeps us interested, 9 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Hemingway's writing style is naturally blunt and simple, which gives off a light weight aura that we can't let go of. When you read his The Sun Also Rises, while his characters are trying to not tear each other to shreads from stressing out, you are unstressful, it feels like you're on a beach while reading this.
The Sun Also Rises is an example of Hemingway at the height of his ladder to sucess and fame, depicting a great portrait and passion of his writing. Delicate and peaceful, this is his best work of all.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What had you done at 24?, 15 Jan 2010
One of the extraordinary things about this novel is that Hemingway was 24 when he wrote it. You'd think he was in his late 30's so well does he write about weariness and disillusionment. It helped no doubt that he'd already been an ambulance driver in WW1, a newspaper man and travelled throughout Europe.
Jake Barnes, the narrator, a journalist in '20's Paris, has been made impotent by a war injury. He cannot consummate his relationship with the promiscuous Lady Brett Ashley. He tries to dull the pain with drink and food. He keeps everything at an ironic distance - his preferred adjectives are, famously, 'fine' 'nice' 'good' and 'pleasant'. He struggles to remain disengaged - Hemingway's clipped, sparse prose reflects this whilst revealing the pain underneath.
His emotional opposite is Robert Cohn, a writer and college boxing champ who joins the ex-pat set. He is earnest and flowery, wants to collect 'experiences' and also falls in love with Brett.
The book moves from Paris to Spain as Jake and friends head for Pamplona and the fiesta. Cohn goes to San Sebastian with Brett. It means everything to him, but nothing to her. Jake and his friend Bill go fishing - and drinking - on the way. This episode functions as a idyllic lull before the physical and emotional violence of the fiesta.
Once in Pamplona, the novel moves various elements into place. The bullfighting reflects closely the manoeuvering and pain of the human protagonists. The strict code of the bullfighters reflects the lax and debauched attitudes of Jake and his set. The matadors' managers try to keep the two groups separate, but Brett falls for the youngest and most handsome matador. Jake, perhaps because he is in thrall to Brett, or just because he is willfully wants to inflict pain on himself, brokers an affair. Cohn finds out and beats up the matador - a display of excessive emotionalism that is seen as shameful.
The fiesta ends and the group go their separate ways, hungover, raw and more sick and weary than ever.
Jake's advocacy of a 'simple exchange of values' - you give a waiter a good tip, he gives you good service next time around - is now almost all he has to believe in.
Jake's pain is not over however. Brett's matador leaves her and she calls for Jake to come and offer succour. He does, of course, a sap til the end. At the the final meal he drinks heroic quantities of Rioja Alta and eats plates of suckling pig as if he wants to make himself explode.
The book leaves Brett and Jake together talking platitudes about the good life they could have had together. 'Wouldn't it be pretty to think so?' ask Jake, in one of the more devastating combinations of regret and cynicism.
Stylistically this book is groundbreaking. It set a standard of lean prose writing and understated expression that even now confuses people in its lack of 'feeling'.
The understanding of relationships and the complexity of human desires is profound.
The characterisation of a certain kind of man - angry, contained, detached, with no family, and addicted to machismo pursuits has almost become a stereotype. It is difficult to think of a 'man's novel' without it - Fleming, Camus, Mailer, Roth, le Carre all recycle him.
And all this from a 24 year old.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Space that Separates: The Two Sides of Conflict, 19 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic) (Paperback)
Why would anyone want to read a novel about unending drunken revels by emotional cripples who treat each other badly, never-ending love conflicts, getting excited by mayhem at the running of the bulls and during bull fights in Pamplona, and wasted lives? That's the question posed by this book.
The book will not draw too many readers for the subject matter. Why then does the book attract? Part of the appeal has to be the same reason that many people like horror films -- the relief you feel when you realize that your own life does not encounter such dangers can be profound.
Another reason to read this book is to understand the disillusionment of the American expatriates in Europe after World War I. The book is a period piece in this sense. Clearly, Hemingway is Jake and the book is undoubtedly very autobiographical. All first novels have that quality to some degree. Imagining how the author of The Old Man and the Sea started out as Jake was very interesting to me.
To me, however, the primary reason for reading this book is to encounter the remarkable structure that Hemingway built in his plot. He has created several different lenses through which we can explore the role of conflict and separation in our lives. Each lens turns out to be looking at the same object, and it is only by slowly focusing each of the lenses that we are able to see that object more clearly.
The central figure in the book is Brett, Lady Ashley, who enchants almost every man she meets, and who disengages from intimate relations with each one after permanently entangling him emotionally. That leaves a string of wounded suitors in her wake, including Jake. Things get tough when several of them join her and her fiance in Pamplona for the running of the bulls. The symmetry in the book becomes more obvious during a fishing trip that Jake takes without Brett. The fish are lured by artificial flies more successfully than with real worms. Brett's exotic appeal draws men in like flies, much more than the attractions of women who want to make an emotional commitment.
The symmetry becomes masterful when we reach the bull fights. Brett and the matador are inevitably attracted, for they are the same. They both play with their opponents (men and bulls) by flirting and using their capes, weaken the opponents in the engagement, and bring the opponents down (through sexual entrancement and slaughter). Hemingway makes this abundantly clear by repeatedly describing the bull's death as when the matador and the bull become one. One pet name for Brett is Circe, to help complete the picture.
The closer the matador comes to the bull's horns (or Brett to making a commitment), the better the sport for the spectators and the greater the self-esteem for the matador (and Brett).
I do not recall a novel that does such an excellent job of using multiple story lines to reinforce the book's main point, in this case that alienation transcends even closeness. Much as you will dislike some of the characters, the unnecessary racial and ethnic slurs, the savageness, and the emotional scenes, you will probably find the characters to ring true. You will also admire the misguided optimism and honest commitment of Jake as he fulfills his love for Brett by procuring men for her and then rescuing her when the next engagement is all over. Jake's love is that noble sacrifice that we all admire in lovers.
And that's the beautiful part of the book -- you will find nobility amid the ugliness. The contrast makes the nobility more beautiful.
When you are done reading the book, examine your own life and see where you draw back from closeness. Then, ask yourself why you do, and what it costs you and others. Next, consider what closeness can bring from continuing relationships.
Find beauty wherever you look!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bitter-sweet tale of love, lust and lost opportunities, 28 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Set in the mid-1920s, the story deals with the 'lost generation' of American and British expatriates who have settled in Paris to live in a moral wasteland of drunkenness and promiscuity. Centering on the relationship between its narrator, Jake Barnes, an American journalist rendered sexually impotent by a wound suffered during World War I, and Lady Brett Ashley, the queen of the pleasure-seekers, it explores with great pathos the anguish and inadequacy of love when robbed of its physical expression, and of the latter in the absence of an emotional attachment. In true Hemingway style, drinking, fishing and the bull-fight provide the framework. Yet its crowning glory is perhaps the strength of Hemingway's vivid narrative technique which draws the reader into every scene, and induces an almost personal bond with each of the brilliantly crafted characters. Warmth literally permeates the novel, despite the various calamities of its principal actors, and those privileged to have experienced it shall surely be devouring Hemingway's works for years to come.
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Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic)
Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Arrow Classic) by Ernest Hemingway (Paperback - 18 Aug 1994)
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