Originally published in 1926
Source: my husband's college copy
The Sun Also Rises is the story of Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn and an assortment of other expatriates as they travel from their wild lives in Paris to the bullfights of Pamploma, Spain in the 1920's. Although the story is primarily about the interaction of these people, it is also an homage to Hemingway's passions.
The overview on the Barnes & Nobel calls The Sun Also Rises poignant, a word that I initially took issue with in reference to this book. My idea of the definition of "poignant" tended to be "profoundly moving, touching." I know this book is considered a masterpiece - any source you look at will tell you as much. But I definitely did not find it profoundly moving nor touching. Poignant, however, can also be defined as "neat, skillful and to the point," "piercing, incisive," and "keenly distressing to the mind." By any of those definitions, The Sun Also Rises is indeed poignant.
"Neat, skillful and to the point"
Hemingway may be the ultimate in "to the point" authors. When writing dialogue, he has almost entirely done away with the "he said, she cried, John extolled" pieces. The reader must pay attention in order to know who is saying what.
While Hemingway may leave the reader to wonder about his characters appearance, he leaves the reader in no doubt whatsoever about their motivations, their biases, not their feelings, not even at his own expense.
"Keenly distressing to the mind""You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes."
I'm not sure if when Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises the things that I found to be keenly distressing to the mind were then felt to be keenly distressing to the mind. Black people are repeatedly referred to by the N word, gay men are referred to as "faggots" and there is no end to belittling Robert Cohn because of his begin Jewish. Was this par for the course at the time the book was written? Does this merely reflect Hemingway's feelings? Or did Hemingway include these things just be provocative? None of this even touches on the passages about the running of the bulls and the bullfighting scenes.