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Group Reads Archive > Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (June 2010)

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message 1: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1440 comments Mod
Welcome to the June Group Read in the 1900-1940 category:

Fiesta the sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway Fiesta: the sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway Ernest Hemingway

Enjoy the read and let me know what you thought right here in this thread as soon as you're ready.


message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1440 comments Mod
I have to admit that this book isn't really grabbing me - its rather dull actually.

Also - I'm not impressed with all the 'he said, she said' 'We went here, then we, then we, then we...' - very stilted, monosyllabic and not particularly special.

Hemingway has such a stellar reputation that I fear I expected too much - he's not delivering for me.

Are there any Hemingway lovers out there that can help me see the light?


message 3: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 505 comments I read this decades ago, and really just remember that everyone was drunk throughout. I was much more impressed by A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, which both featured robust stories.

message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) | 23 comments I love the title, but perhaps the book itself reflects its status as his first novel. Like Ivan, I also prefer A Farewell to Arms, which I think is the only completely realized book he ever wrote. His style became a parody of itself fairly quickly, is my opinion. Still, the characters seem honestly drawn, and I liked Brett despite her evident flaws. It has a young spirit that you have to like, don't you? Under the brittleness is that sentimentality that may get (OK, does get!) out of control in his later writing, but that worked for me in this one.

message 5: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1264 comments Live Ivan, I read this about thirty years ago. I had time on my hands and read a lot - not much to do when you are recovering from broken jaws. So mainly you read.

I thought I liked it at the time. I also read Farewell to Arms in that same period. For Whom the Bell Tolls is sitting on my shelf.

At least we're not reading To Have and Have Not - where he supposedly had to cut out a major portion.

I hope to start it soon.

message 6: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 505 comments Hey, was only twenty years ago :O)

message 7: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1264 comments I was wrong - it was 40 years ago.

I have to remember to proofread.

message 8: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas Armstrong (albinomonkeyking) Ally wrote: "I have to admit that this book isn't really grabbing me - its rather dull actually.

Also - I'm not impressed with all the 'he said, she said' 'We went here, then we, then we, then we...' - very..."

On the one hand, that is pretty much Hemingway prose, on the other, it is understandably frustrating, especially with this book, where there is so often so little going on.

I think reading this was much like the meaning I think was supposed to be conveyed on to me, which was a dispassioned, somber view of the world and of life.

I give Hemingway credit for trying to write something which is moved forward solely by the feelings and personalities of the characters, but I didn't like the process anymore than you seem to be.

I would say just try to have fun discussing the themes and puzzling them out, it is where the enjoyment was for me.

message 9: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1440 comments Mod
Interesting Nicholas - what themes struck you most?

message 10: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas Armstrong (albinomonkeyking) Ally wrote: "Interesting Nicholas - what themes struck you most?"

Well I think the one to play around with most are the first words of the novel - not the title, acknowledgments or copyright, but the quotes. "You are all a lost generation."

Each of the characters is essentially ruined by the war in very different ways and although some of them saw combat (Jake), and some were merely collateral damage (Brett), they are veterans of the same war, sharing a communal wound.

Every character of the novel is an important reaction to this great schism in humanity. All the ridiculous actions, postulations, rhetoric, and excess of the characters is in one way or another fueled by this one wound none of them can overcome. Jake is the most obvious because he carries a physical wound to reflect the mental.

There are many other ways to view the novel, but I think with the quotation and allusions Hemingway lays out this is probably the truest interpretation and the one which bears the most fruit.

Try looking at Romero, for instance, as one without a wound, and therefore attractive and powerful. It's quite fun to look at all the characters as either powerful because of their lack of exposure to the war or flawed because of it.

message 11: by Ally (last edited Jun 09, 2010 10:24AM) (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1440 comments Mod
Yes - I like that the effects of war come into books of this period in surprising ways. I'd not really pondered on those references while reading this book but I can now see that you've made a really good point. - I think the group had a similar conversation when reading Vile Bodies - behaviour which before the war and indeed in modern times would not be considered wholly acceptable becomes somehow contextualised by the horrors that those generations experienced.

Bearing this theme in mind - what do you think the symbolism/motif of the bullfighting represents and the intensity of description Hemingway uses in these passages compared to the monosyllabic/dull (my opinion!) dialogue???


message 12: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas Armstrong (albinomonkeyking) It is another juxtaposition of war and peace. Take for example Jake's excursion to to go fishing; he lives a calm subdued life now and engages in easy pastimes. He is no longer a warrior and his life is seemingly dull and meaningless by contrast. Romero is still in the midst of virility and he can bear the brunt of the war.

Life after the war is dead to Jake. Brett is still chasing what was once there, hence her interest (even fleetingly) in figures like Cohn and Romero because they are fighters.

The dull dialogue is, I suppose, reflective of the way these peoples lives will forever seem to them. Everything after the war is downhill, or at least below, what it once was. The conversations are dull, the colors are dull, everything is seemingly pointless or tamed. The bullfighting is proof that wars, warriors, and intensity still exist, but Jake and his veterans are forever removed from this. Brett will chase what she cannot forget and Jake will be forever reminded of what he can never be.

message 13: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1440 comments Mod
Do we agree with the Bullfighting tradition from an animal rights point of view?

As and English person whol lives in the countryside I'm thinking about this in a similar way to how I think about fox hunting (which has been made illegal in the UK). These are ancient traditions - do we preserve our heritage or do we claim 'civilisation' and ban what could be termed 'cruel' sports???

What do you all think?


message 14: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 505 comments My thinking is this: isn't there some way to modernize the sport? Must they kill the bull or the fox? Uncle Matthew in Mitford's The Pursuit of Love would simply hunt his children! In Africa people now go on safari to shoot big game with their cameras; or have been know to use water soluble paint guns.

message 15: by Michael (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) | 23 comments Nicholas, I've enjoyed reading your take on the book -- well said. The only point I wonder about is the conversations.... I'm not sure Hemingway would have agreed they were dull. I think he believed he was getting to the essentials of the characters -- or, at least, to the essential accuracy of the way they spoke. And that that essence carried a heft of its own, even if they were not especially, or at all, eloquent. The conversations have so much in common with boxing -- feints, thrusts and parries, even a few hits below the belt. I would not be surprised if Hemingway thought of his dialogue as vivid, even. It conveys a lot in its minimalism, it seems to me.

message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael (MichaelCanoeist) | 23 comments Ally wrote: "Fiesta: the sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway [authorimage:..."

Just curious about one thing -- where did this "Fiesta" intro word come from? Please don't anyone tell me it was in one of Hemingway's manuscripts, as I've already consigned it to some silly marketing "genius" who thought it improved on the Ecclesiastes.

message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim | 24 comments to me the dialogue seems accurate in that what the characters say is natural and what real people would say even if it's not always hypertense

also I think the characters act in an age appropriate or experience appropriate way -

most people's early adult lives have the most bravura of their lives especially if they've been involved in a war

what follows usually isn't as dramatic or perceived as dramatic by the individual

message 18: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1264 comments I finally got to reading this book this past weekend and finished it last night. Actually it was a re-read. I think I have read it three or four times by now. I always enjoy it. Perhaps as a former drinker (now sober for a good number of years), I look on this cafe society that went on then as kind of a dream world.

I think you also have to bear in mind that this was Hemingway's debut novel.

I had no problems with the dialogue. He is writing like people talk, much like Mamet does. I know that Mamet writes dialogue like people talk in Chicago and I am kind of assuming that Hemingway did too. They are both from Chicago and suburbia, as am I - so maybe that is one reason for the dialogue flowing for me. It is the language that we are used to.

Would I personally like to see a bullfight? No. I'm not really into blood and gore and killing animals for show. But it doesn't bother me to read about it. It might if it were taking place today. But it isn't taking place today.

And the people in the story don't have the same experiences as we do today.

These are the people who survived the war and wartime experiences and are kind of living a carefree life. Or, if not carefree, they just haven't determined what it is that they care about yet. Because everything has changed and they don't know really know what to do about it.

I hadn't known, but the other day I just happened to watch a program that I had taped years ago from one of the A&E channels called "The Lost Generation" and one of the things it talked about was the real people this was based on.

I think that was what drove me to finish the book.

message 19: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 855 comments Mod
I finished this one this past weekend. It was just OK for me. It felt like an adult version of the "how I spent my summer vacation" essay I always had to write the first day back to school.

Michael, I was curious about the "Fiesta" part of the title, too. I'd never heard it called that before. So I went and looked it up on Wikipedia-because Wikipedia knows everything (said tongue in cheek). According to the article on the book, Hemingway originally titled it "Fiesta", sorry to beat down your dream, Michael.

I felt that most of the characters were pretty bland. Brett being the major exception to that. I felt bad for Cohn, but of course I have known snively guys like that, and they *are* annoying.

I'd never read Hemingway before. I hope to read him again, and hopefully they will be more enjoyable for me than this one. Not that it was bad, or anything, but some of his other books are much longer and I don't know how long would be too much.

message 20: by Lori (new)

Lori | 12 comments I finished this book this summer after several attempts to read it. And I liked it a lot. I think it's tied with A Farewell to Arms as my favorite Hemingway novel.

I think I liked the characters the most. Or maybe what happens to them. They were drunk pretty much all the time. They said and did stupid and mean things. Yet, despite their drunkenness, they wound up having some amazing opportunities and met interesting and well-connected people. They got to travel and see some really cool things. This book, like Thompson's The Rum Diary: A Novel (which I find quite similar to this novel), made me want to run off to Europe, be drunk, and have an amazingly interesting life.

I find the discussion about how each of the characters are wounded by the war in some way with different manifestations. It's a true testament to the times where everyone was affected (effected?) by World War I and how that led to the vivacity of Roaring 20s.

message 21: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1440 comments Mod
I've just read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which is a novel written from the perspective of Hemingway's first wife Hadley covering the Paris years in which The Sun Also Rises was formed.

I thought I'd ressurect this thread as it's been some time since we read this one as a group and I wondered if any of our newer members had anything to add

message 22: by Amy (new)

Amy | 39 comments This is my fave book. Every time I read it I feel that I should find someone to sublet my place and buy a ticket to anywhere in Western Europe. From there I will hang out in cafes, take up smoking and stay up late engaged in a grand love affair.

I also love the name "Lady Brett Ashley".

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Books mentioned in this topic

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (other topics)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (other topics)
A Farewell to Arms (other topics)
To Have And Have Not (other topics)
Vile Bodies (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Ernest Hemingway (other topics)
Paula McLain (other topics)