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on 8 April 2017
Truly remarkable. One of his best.
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on 27 April 2017
Always been one of my favourite books and in reading again this is confirmed
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on 21 May 1999
the only reason this novel doesn't get 5 stars from me is the abrupt "ending" of the novel in the last few pages. still, i wish there were half stars so i could give it 4 1/2.
hemingway tells the story of the subleties and complexities of human sexuality set across a vividly beautiful backdrop of europe. it's surprising that in this so-called "individualist" day and age, we still feel the need to stick labels onto everyone and everything. this novel is not about lesbians, or homosexuality, for neither Catherine nor her husband nor their lover could possibly be described by either of those words.
They were human, too complex for the categories we still put people into: not heterosexual, not homosexual. People, with varying degrees of desires and wants. Hemingway did a wonderful job of portraying this and the effects that these desires/wants had on the surrounding people. It is also about a descent into madness, about selfishness vs. self-destruction, about the games people play with their own and each other's emotions.
There are no stereotypes or cardboard cutouts here. Perhaps that is why some people find this novel not to their taste. It is not meant to be a comfortable read.
The only downside to the story is that the entire novel reads almost languidly along at a pace befitting the slow beautiful surroundings. But the end of the novel accelerates and then stops abruptly, jarring you back into the real world only to leave you asking, "and then what?" then again maybe that's what hemingway intended.
i would recommend this book to anyone except those that are so narrow-minded they can't get past the sexuality issue.
if anyone wants to discuss this or other hemingway books with me, feel free to send me an e-mail :)
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on 3 June 1998
This book was a posthumous cut and paste job that took decades to edit down from the thousands of pages of Hemingway's manuscript, so I was expecting EDEN to be mediocre at best. But I was amazed to find it a wonderfully moving and graceful novel. Not much happens throughout, but what does happen is executed with such subtlety and artistry, that it makes for captivating reading. Harold Bloom--America's most famous and respected literary critic--put THE GARDEN OF EDEN on his list of Hemingway's masterpieces, and he only put four books on that list (the other three are A FAREWELL TO ARMS, THE SUN ALSO RISES, and COMPLETE SHORT STORIES).
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on 19 August 1997
Simply-told though filled with dark implications, this lean-but-lyrical gem is as strong as vintage Hemingway. In this posthumously-published novel, Papa explores the many manifestations of desire as it excites, inspires, nurtures & drives us mad--often all at once. Set in the 1920's on the Cote d'Azur, it chronicles the honeymoon of David Bourne, a writer, & his lovely, impulsive wife Catherine. As her strange compulsions take her on a slide toward either freedom or insanity, David struggles to follow her and still practice his chosen craft. Soon after another woman enters their relationship, the struggle becomes one for control of David's art through his love for both Catherine & Marita, the newcomer. This is a love-triangle with three complete sides (as they pair & repair), and how each of these characters chooses to resolve their struggle belies the more prurient aspects of the book: this is less erotica than a story of how the dark & bright sides of desire inform lives, how they empower & weaken us, and how love may not be enough--even 'true' love.
As entertaining as any romance, though much more provocative, this book is a masterpiece (despite the controversy surrounding it).
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on 31 August 2010
From what is in this posthumously-released novel, the period of the honeymoon setting was not obvious to me. I eventually settled on the mid-fifties. In fact, it was set in the 1920s. The heavy consumption of alcohol with meals (including breakfast) is a clue to a post-war climate of abandonment for those rich enough.

The novel has a filigree feel to it; the arcs between the writer-character's working life and emotional life seem unresolved. Maybe that is deliberate, showing the writer processing long-stored emotions about his father while accumulating new ones. But I still feel David Bourne's acceptance of his new wife's manic behaviour is unconvincing, undermining the fact of the recent marriage. After all, the narrative focus often moves to close third-person past tense, centred on David, with frequent use of first-person thoughts. Given this viewpoint approach, too much seems missing.

I understand the novel has been carved from a longer, incomplete manuscript. I'd like to think that in the stripped, or unwritten material, would be a mirror through which better to see the three protagonists: David, Catherine (his wife) and Marita (their shared lover). Similarly, the ending seems to elevate the writer-arc over the contemporaneous love-triangle arc. Was that the ultimate intention of the author?

The more specific evocation of the Mediterranean location is beautifully rendered, mostly through now-unfashionably long sentences, and with an effective use of repetition. The erotic passages are masterful, described through cues rather than explicit language. The dialogue is also brilliant, capturing intimacy and madness.

I found the blending of the short-story writing with the main narrative to be technically excellent. And within those sections, the writer-David reveals the importance of mining the truth of feelings surrounding events, the truth not as it subsequently becomes but as it was perceived at the time.

To a layered novel I wonder whether should be read at all - given its lack of polish - I suspect I will be returning many times to peer ever-harder through the gauze.
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on 9 November 2013
The Garden of Eden has a bit of history to it - it's Hemingway's second posthumous novel, published in 1986, 25 years after the writer's suicide by shotgun. Hemingway started work on the novel in 1946, and was still working on it at the time of his death, sixteen years later. During this time, he also wrote 'The Old Man and the Sea', 'A Moveable Feast' and several of his other major works.

Some people have criticised the published manuscript because the editor removed over 100,000 words and several major subplots, but I enjoyed it all the same - for all I know, those cuts might have been justified, and it still worked beautifully as a novel as it was. Perhaps one day I'll get hold of the full thing somehow and compare the two, but I'm judging it purely as it was presented - if we miss the author's original intention then so be it.

I must admit that it was interesting to see a different side of Hemingway - he examines androgyny and sexuality, pushing against sexual stereotypes that still exist today, although they were much more prominent at the time of writing, some sixty years ago.

But it was slow reading at times, and I could only feel sympathy for the novel's main character, David Bourne. There's a scene where all of his creative hard work is undone, and as a fellow writer, it upset me. Like when we had a database fail and lost scores of unpublished reviews...
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on 3 May 1998
This novel was intriguing, frightening and one of the most sensual books that I have ever read. The book could also be catagorized as a suspense novel, as this emotionally flawed and physically beautiful couple were so volatile and daring. I felt as if Hemmingway had allowed his Katherine of "A Farewell to Arms" to come back to life and live without rules or mortality. The tragedy of this relationship haunted me during the reading and for weeks after.
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on 27 November 2015
I am at a loss to understand the praise this book has received. As you probably know, the book was not published during Hemingway's lifetime and I can understand why. It has been edited down to half it's original size, which may help explain its incoherence, but I would hate to have read the full manuscript. The basic "plot line" is promising: a menage a trois in (largely) the south of France during the 1920s, but the prose is appalling (I counted 10 "and"s in a single 6 line sentence: rules are made to be broken but this book demonstrates that they should sometimes be adhered to. Hemingway is also well known for his sparing use of adjectives and adverbs. This can be effective but those he does use here are bland and repetitive - several "lovely's, for example). The characters are unbelievable and dull, the supposedly daring sensuality is absent and it is frequently impossible to tell what is going on. This is not just my opinion: the whole reading group thought the same and agreed it was the worst book we have read. For Hemingway aficionados and masochists only.
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on 23 June 1998
I would just like to say for the people who have not read the book, to go and read it. This was my first Hemingway story that I have read, and I got hooked. After that I could get enough of Hemingway. If you like to read, this book is a MUST on your list!
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