Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Sun Also Rises & How It's Not Really Intimidating

For my independent study novel I read The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Before actually reading it, I was a bit intimated- mostly because it's Hemingway. I mean you think Hemingway and then you think genius and then you're like wait I'm not a genius how does this work (that was pretty much my thought process in a nutshell). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my fears prior to actually reading the novel were completely wrong. 
I was extremely excited when I first started reading to find out that it was actually a story. Like a story with a beginning, middle, and end and everything. Has anyone else seriously been missing a traditionally set-up plot after reading Metamorphosis, Notes from the Underground, and even Beloved? I certainly have been. Essentially, The Sun Also Rises got bonus points for being somewhat straight-forward. 
Despite being mostly straight-forward in the narration itself, I will admit that it took me awhile to actually figure out what the point, or even the theme(s), was. Looking back after having finished it, it's a bit embarrassing that I didn't know from the get-go. I mean, I really should have gotten the gist of it just from the summary on the back. Though, I can't actually remember if I read the summary. Essentially, the novel focuses on the Lost Generation and the disillusionment of society following World War I. And I know that you're probably thinking how that is so overdone, and it may be. But I promise, there is a reason The Sun Also Rises has been deemed the "quintessential novel of the Lost Generation." And I also promise that Hemingway is not overrated.  
I think what struck me most about the novel is how different the lives of the main characters are compared to ours, or at least to mine. I mean for the most part it all felt so frivolous. At lot of times it seemed like they were just bouncing around from cafe to cafe, getting wasted, and talking but not actually saying anything. I guess that's why it took me almost the whole novel to really understand what was happening or what Hemingway was trying to say. They really were a Lost Generation. 
In short, I highly recommend giving this novel a go (it's actually pretty short). 


Amy Clement said...

Your book sounds super interesting, Brooke. And I can totally relate to your feeling intimated by Hemingway. Even though I haven't had a chance to read any of his work yet, I definitely have heard about his genius. While in Cuba last spring break we had the opportunity to take a tour of his house there. The tour guide told us all these stories about his eccentric behaviors. For example, every morning he would weigh himself and write the weight on the wall, so the bathroom walls were covered in his meticulous scribbles.

Samantha Gillen said...

I feel like all themes are overdone! haha! I think it's because humans are programmed to ask the same sort of universal questions... it's simply in our genetics. What do babies understand? The typical teenager asks "Who am I?" Adults want to know if they have a purpose in the world or if their life is worthless in the grand scheme of things. The subconscious is a generally new theme that has risen over the past century, though. New themes like this come to the surface over time, but can ultimately be traced back to a first source. For example, people before Freud dealt with the subconscious without even knowing it (pun intended). Why is it that we don't get bored with the same messages thrown at us every time then? Because the messages is usually buried under all the other stuff you read so reading doesn't feel like a repetitive process. Analyzing doesn't feel like a repetitive process either because the pathway through which you reach the overarching message is always different. The only part of the novel that is repetitive is the theme itself, which you don't truly realize until the end of the novel anyways.

Miranda Martinez said...

Whenever I think of Hemingway, I always picture Hemingway cats (six-toed). I do enjoy reading Hemingway (the person), though. I still haven't finished The Sun Also Rises, but reading your blog post makes me feel confident that I can finish it.

Kincy GIbson said...

When I read that you said "Hemingway is not under rated", I had a major flashback to a group interview that asked "What is the most under rated and over rated book you have ever read?" Sorry Mrs. King, but I said the Wasteland was the most over rated. But I got really nervous because all eyes were on me, and we were talking about eliot, so naturally I'd ramble. The flashback brought me back to a panicked blur but I rocked the other part of the question and said Coyotes by Ted Conover was the most under rated. It was my independent study book last year.