It’s hard denying that I have a huge literary crush on Ernest Hemingway. And honestly, why would I want to deny it, he’s amazing. After finishing “A Moveable Feast,” (commentary on that in the blog queue) it only seemed appropriate to read the novel that really put Hemingway on the map (and I’m now working my way through the rest of his works). Here’s the blurb from Amazon:
The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.
I’m not really going to review or critique the book, because honestly, it’s been done. Plus, who am I to critique Hemingway? He wrote so beautifully, I would kill to have a a pinkie fingers worth of his talent. Instead I’m going to discuss the parts that really moved me, especially in light of my travels.
“Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.” (Hemingway, Kindle Location 162-64)
Some people I’ve met along my trip have alluded to to fact that I’m running away from something. While I can see how it could be perceived that way, I’m truly not. I’m running toward something-living a full and really amazing life. In this instance, I agree with the main character, Jake. The country you’re in, where you live, what you’re seeing– it all doesn’t make a difference if you don’t already like who you are. In the case of the book, none of the characters liked themselves. In my case, I really like myself, perhaps to a fault. I suppose you have to be a particular type of vain if you’re going to write a blog and expect people to read and care about your words, right? Additionally, traveling alone requires a certain type of self confidence . You’re alone with your thoughts and feelings, it’s ideal if you like the person you’re spending all your time with, right? So in essence, my journey is less of running away from something, and more of self-enlightenment and growth.
“It seemed like a fine philosophy. In five years, I thought, it will seem just as silly as all the other fine philosophies I’ve had.” (Hemingway, Kindle Location 2436-37)
Oh, I just love this. I keep a private journal to document all the things I don’t really want all you fine folks knowing about- hopes, dreams, embarassing moments, commentary on myself. Occaisonally, I’ll go back and read the wonderful insights into my soul. I find that I make extreme statements about “who I am” and “what type of person I am”. And then in a matter of weeks, months, it all seems laughable (and so false). I am SO sure of who I am and what I believe in, until I am someone else and believe in something else.
“We lunched upstairs at Botin’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta.”(Hemingway, Kindle Location 4071-72)
I particularly loved the end of the book, when Jake goes to rescue Brett in Madrid. Just like his sketches in Paris, when I am able to really see what he’s talking about because I’ve been there, I was really able to feel like I was at lunch with them. Mostly because I also ate at Botin, also ordered the roast young suckling pig, and drank rioja alta with my good friend Casey. It’s actually kind of amazing that we were able to have pretty much the same exact experience. While I’m still a skeptic that it’s the oldest restaurant, I do agree with Hemingway when he says it’s one of the best.
Anyway, if you haven’t read this book or eaten young suckling pig at Botin’s, then you are really missing out.