Book Review: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

“You are all a lost generation.”

3876Read: 14th, October,2016- 19th, October,2016

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 23 seconds. Contains 1079 words

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Book Description: 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.

This is the second book that I read written by Hemingway, the first being, The Old Man and The Sea which I liked. But I’m not quite sure about how I really feel about this book, The Sun Also Rises.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway which he wrote in the mid-1920s is a book about Lost Generation or Wasted Generation.

Lost Generation: noun, the generation reaching maturity during or after First World War, a high proportion of whose men were killed during those years.

Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross during the First World War so he himself was a part of the Lost Generation that he talks about in this book. These people lost a part of themselves in the war. The experience of the war deeply changed the way people see themselves and who they think they are. So yes this book is about the generation who faced and suffered during the First World War and Hemingway in this book tries to talk about how the war changed people and how they couldn’t ever be the same people they used to be, and how they could never come back to the society and felt like the outcast.

Now let’s talk about the book.

This book is a beautiful melancholy and it captures the entire generation, the lost generation as I talked about earlier. His characters show that they have dreams, that they want to accomplish, they want to achieve something but they can’t because they lost themselves.

“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.”

These people were trying to have a good time, but most of it as Hemingway described in this book was booze, women, food, going to places, and hanging out. They were doing many things but nothing was really happening in the book.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”

Similarly how nothing was happening in their lives(that makes sense.) They were lost in the modern world and the whole time they talked and talked but about nothing, that shows the chaos and how they were lost in the chaos(I don’t know what am I writing, I’m lost).

“This is a hell of dull talk…How about some of that champagne?”

This book was very stereotypical Hemingway.

The book in itself was very calm and slow paced, but most of the things that he wrote seem to me of no importance. A large descriptions about what they drank or how much money they spent on that bottle of scotch, so many details but of no use. I see that he did that on purpose but why I don’t see.

I did start to like this book once they reached Spain and I also liked the bull fight part and did start catching up with what was happening(and I guess that was half way through the book.)

“The bulls are my best friends.”
I translated to Brett.
“You kill your friends?” she asked.
“Always,” he said in English and laughed. “So they don’t kill me.”

I couldn’t really understand their emotions because he didn’t talk about them and none of his characters did.

Brett was every man’s love interest and nothing deep really happened. I don’t even know what they felt and what they felt about each other.

My problem with everything that was happening in this book is that I couldn’t really relate to it, most of the things sounded ridiculous to me. Yes, maybe something more suitable for that generation but not so much to this.

The day I started reading this book, it was late at night around 1 A.M. and I was laying on my bed reading this book on my phone, lights were off and the window was open so that I could enjoy the fresh air and then I came across this passage from Chapter 4 and I loved it because it was so much similar to the setting I was in and it is one thing that got stuck in my mind. I was thinking about my version of Brett and trains were running on the tracks and that is only sound you could hear in the silence of the night. I may have cried a little bit because of the whole situation that was building up and fell asleep as I came towards the end of the passage.

When I think about that moment, I think of it as a moment that I shared with Hemingway, in a way(very cheesy, I know, but it did happen and I’ll always remember it.)

“I lit the lamp beside the bed, turned off the gas, and opened the wide windows, and I sat with the windows open and undressed by the bed. Outside a night train, running on the street-car tracks, went by carrying vegetables to the markets. They were noisy at night when you could not sleep…

…I lay awake thinking and my mind jumping around. Then I couldn’t keep away from it, and I started to think about Brett and all the rest of it went away. I was thinking about Brett and my mind stopped jumping around and started to go in sort of smooth waves. Then all of a sudden I started to cry. Then after a while, it was better and I lay in bed and listened to the heavy trams go by and way down the street, and then I went to sleep.”

“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night is another thing.”

Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck on Friendship and loneliness.

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

186521Read: 12th, February, 2017

Estimate reading time: 5 minutes, 35 seconds. Contains 1116 words.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Three months back I went to a bookstore and found two book kept side by side, at first I was very indecisive when it came to making a choice between this book and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, I really like both the writers so I ended up buying both of them and reading both of them though I still have to read last few pages of In Cold Blood, I’ll make it happen, I know that and I’ll write about it soon.

So about this book, the book cover says: The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.

Before I begin I must say that I love John Steinbeck’s books, I haven’t read them all but whatever I have read I always loved it. I really like the profound messages one can find while reading his books and how he can write stories about rookies and ordinary working class people and make them relatable to everyone reading them. Great Depression indeed provided him with a whole lot of subject to write about and it’s worth reading.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which he wrote in the year 1937 is based on the theme of friendship and loneliness. It’s a story of two drifters in search of work during the time of Great Depression, it’s a story of their companionship and friendship and how people need each other.

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

George and Lennie have no one other than each other in the whole wide world, they don’t have a place to live. But they have a dream, one common dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Lennie asks George to tell him about their dream repeatedly throughout the book because Lennie is forgetful and he likes when George tell him what they both would do when they will have land of their own.

“Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his. Som’thin’ he could live on and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it.”

George is street smart and wise while Lennie is big, strong and dumb or I may say mentally handicapped(I don’t know how to put it subtly). Lennie likes to touch soft things but since he is strong that most of the times he kills them and creates trouble for both of them.

“Trouble with mice is you always kill ’em.”

George is a good friend he takes care of Lennie though he sometimes feels trapped with him because he thinks he can be so much more if he doesn’t have to take responsibility of Lennie. He constantly complains that if he did not have Lennie then he could have a girlfriend or go down for drinking and build a life for himself but then he takes care of Lennie as a parent and he genuinely want Lennie to stay with him.

“Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain’t hardly ever a nice fella.”

When you read this book you can feel emotional appeal and can feel for every character. The undertone of this book is loneliness, every character is lonely, some are so lonely that they long for attention, they are afraid they will lose their partner, won’t let go because they are afraid they will be left alone, be the leader so that they get to have followers and try to stay put with people and what happens to people when they are isolated.

Few things were terrifying for me because I’m someone who tends to isolate.

“A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ask him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be all right. But I jus’ don’t know.”

Curley’s wife, although a bizarre woman but yes she longs for attention, she indeed is left alone and she does feel lonely. Candy won’t let go of his dog because he knows that he will be left alone even though his dog stinks and left with no life, Curley always looking for his wife afraid he would lose her to someone else, Slim being the leader so that he can listen to people and be around them.

In Chapter 3 Candy says, I oughtta shot that dog myself, George, I should not oughtta let no stranger my dog.

George from above statement did learn some lesson.

I really like the symbolism of the snake which Steinbeck used twice in the story, once when George and Lennie first came to the ranch and second time towards the end of the story.

“A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.”

The symbolism of snake bring the forces of evil and symbolizes something bad is to come and here in this story it totally foreshadows death. In the beginning of the book that very snake glides without harm.

This book is straight realism, it’s life and has some kind of sweetness but most of it is heart-wrenching and a bit depressing.

I think I’ll never forget about this book because the way it ended was heartbreaking and completely brutal. I still remember how I felt while reading this book and how the ending completely drained me.