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Fiesta by Ernest Hemingway
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Fiesta (original 1926; edition 2003)

by Ernest Hemingway

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15,986225111 (3.81)1 / 460
Un grupo de americanos e ingleses afincados en París. Personajes desgarrados, errráticos y descritos con tal veracidad que acabarán dando nombre a esa Generación Perdida, terminada la Primera Guerra Mundial. Sus andanzas desde la Rive Gauche a los Sanfermines, narradas con pulso tenso, en una atmósfera desesperadamente vital, y amenazante. ( )
  biblisad | May 28, 2012 |
English (215)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (223)
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1926 ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
Tried writing a review about how Hemingway's style was still developing when he wrote this one, and how much it developed even in the three years between this and A Farewell to Arms, but I gave it up. The Hemingway trademarks--the stripped-bare, understated style, the sparse dialogue, the easy, natural flow of the story--are all here, and if I don't think it all came together quite as smoothly as it did in A Farewell to Arms, it's because it's a different kind of book, with an entirely different scope. ( )
  9inchsnails | Mar 7, 2016 |
The narrator of The Sun Also Rises is Jake Barnes, an expatriate journalist in his mid-20s who lives in Paris. Barnes is impotent because of a war wound, though the nature of his wound is never explicitly made clear. He loves Brett Ashley, twice-married who has had several love affairs since the war. Book 1 is set in Paris. Jake plays tennis with his friend Robert Cohn, picks up a prostitute in one scene and leaves a club in a taxi with Brett.

In Book 2 both Cohn and Brett are gone from Paris, and later Jake finds out they were together in San Sebastian. In Paris, Bill Gorton arrives from New York to join Jake; and Mike Campbell, Brett's fiancé, arrives from Scotland. Jake and Gorton travel to Pamplona via train and meet Cohn north of Pamplona for a planned fishing trip. However, Cohn leaves his friends to meet Brett in Pamplona. Jake's jealousy of Cohn builds, though he and Gorton enjoy five days of tranquility fishing the streams near Burguete. Once they arrive in Pamplona the group reunites and they start drinking heavily. Cohn wants to desert the group but also wants to stay with Brett. When the fiesta starts the next day, the time is devoted to drinking, eating, running with the bulls, and watching the bullfights. Jake introduces Brett to a young bullfighter. The tension between the men builds: Campbell is jealous; Jake is jealous; Cohn is jealous. Cohn has a fistfight with the other men: one with Jake; one with Brett's fiancé Campbell; and one with the young matador Romero in his hotel room prior to a fight. Later, Jake watches the bullfighting and describes the brilliance young Romero displays in the bullring.

Book 3 shows the characters in the aftermath of the fiesta. Sober again, they leave Pamplona. Gorton returns to Paris, Campbell stays in Bayonne and Jake goes to San Sebastian. Jake receives a telegram from Brett, who is in Madrid. She asks him to join her because she has gotten herself in trouble. Jake finds Brett without Romero in Madrid, and she announces she has decided to settle down with Campbell.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
expatriates no life in Paris/Spain — a great novel?

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.
  christinejoseph | Mar 3, 2016 |
This is a story about American expatriates, a group of writers bent on experiencing life and experiencing adventures. They are part of a cafe society in Paris where we meet Jake Barnes, Robert Cohn, and Lady Brett Ashley. We soon learn that all of the men are in love with Brett, who is engaged to Mike but has had an affair with Robert and who loves Jake.

The group decides to take off on an adventure to the Spanish hillsides for fishing and then to Pamplona to take in a bullfight. Jake and another friend, Bill Gorton, continue to the fishing trip but Mike and Brett are late and Robert decides to wait for Brett in Pamplona.

Once the group is all in Pamplona, the bullfighting culture is terrifically described. Few people really understand the finer points of the sport, but Jake is one of them. He introduces Brett to a young bullfighter, whom she seduces and then falls in love with. Tension builds among all the men who are in love with Brett, but Cohn is the most frustrated thinking that he has laid his stake in her because of their affair. They are constantly getting drunk during the fiestas and eventually the men take on Cohn. Cohn is egged on by antisemitic remarks and, being a champion boxer, easily lays into the guys, injuring them all but especially beating Romero, the young bullfighter. Despite his injuries Romero successfully fights the next day and wins Brett as well.

Finally, Jake rescues Brett who has been abandoned in Madrid by Romero. She announces that she has decided to stay with Mike, leaving Jake and Brett speaking of things that might, but could not, have been. ( )
  jtp146 | Feb 14, 2016 |
Paris and Pamplona, the main settings for the partying lifestyles of Hemingway's characters. The Lost Generation spending their time in bars and cafes. Interesting relationship between Jake and Brett, strangely Brett is sympathetic despite her behaviour. The bull fighting scenes are particularly evocative. An interesting read. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
The number one thing that truly amazes me about Hemingway is this: Before Hemingway, virtually everyone wrote one way, a way that just doesn't seem modern when you read it now. Whoever, Twain, Dickens, anyone; great, of course, but just a different way of using the language. After Hemingway, virtually EVERYONE wrote differently. Everyone. It's like Hemingway turned on a switch and every author said "Oh... you mean my character doesn't have to 'hurl themselves despondently onto the ancient, ornate divan'? The can just 'sit down'? ( )
  BooksForDinner | Feb 2, 2016 |
Not my favorite Hemingway (that would be _A Moveable Feast_) - especially since it has bullfighting in it. Bull fighting is an obsession with Hemingway... ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I have finished The Sun Also Rises. Good book? Yes and no. From a literary point of view, I loved it. Hemingway’s style and craft and command of the language humble me as I seek to become a better writer. He can do things with words and dialogue that most can’t. He can speed and slow the pace at will, and he tells a great story of a man alone among the crowd. He brings out Jake’s character well. I feel like I knew what he would do on more than one occasion. I don’t think this was because the writing was predictable, but it was because the reader knew Jake well after a time.

Now, the book was depressing. I have heard it said that it glorifies drinking and sex. I am not sure “glorify” is the word I would use. I think it clearly shows the ugly side of heavy drinking and the loneliness that comes from a promiscuous lifestyle. In that sense, it might be a corrective to how drink and sex are often portrayed in today’s media. But it is a depressing read. Will I read it again? Probably, but maybe just bits and pieces to see how Hemingway does what he does. Would I recommend it? Depends upon what you are looking for. If you love good literature, and by that I mean good craft, then yes, by all means. If you are looking to be uplifted or encouraged, skip it and hug your kid instead. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
I have finished The Sun Also Rises. Good book? Yes and no. From a literary point of view, I loved it. Hemingway’s style and craft and command of the language humble me as I seek to become a better writer. He can do things with words and dialogue that most can’t. He can speed and slow the pace at will, and he tells a great story of a man alone among the crowd. He brings out Jake’s character well. I feel like I knew what he would do on more than one occasion. I don’t think this was because the writing was predictable, but it was because the reader knew Jake well after a time.

Now, the book was depressing. I have heard it said that it glorifies drinking and sex. I am not sure “glorify” is the word I would use. I think it clearly shows the ugly side of heavy drinking and the loneliness that comes from a promiscuous lifestyle. In that sense, it might be a corrective to how drink and sex are often portrayed in today’s media. But it is a depressing read. Will I read it again? Probably, but maybe just bits and pieces to see how Hemingway does what he does. Would I recommend it? Depends upon what you are looking for. If you love good literature, and by that I mean good craft, then yes, by all means. If you are looking to be uplifted or encouraged, skip it and hug your kid instead. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
I love Hemingway's writing. His short sentences allow for the language to flow off the page. His characters are well-developed and real. The story was very engaging and I enjoyed the bull fighting scenes the best. There is quite a bit of humor in the novel which shows that Hemingway was a master wordsmith. If you haven't read Hemingway, I suggest you start with this one. I look forward to reading some more of his books real soon. ( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
forced to read it in high school and did not like it. maybe i'll give it a re-read as an adult. ( )
  kdf_333 | Jan 16, 2016 |
forced to read it in high school and did not like it. maybe i'll give it a re-read as an adult. ( )
  kdf_333 | Jan 16, 2016 |
forced to read it in high school and did not like it. maybe i'll give it a re-read as an adult. ( )
  kdf_333 | Jan 16, 2016 |
forced to read it in high school and did not like it. maybe i'll give it a re-read as an adult. ( )
  kdf_333 | Jan 16, 2016 |
forced to read it in high school and did not like it. maybe i'll give it a re-read as an adult. ( )
  kdf_333 | Jan 16, 2016 |
Audible. Read by William Hurt. So who could resist. Wonderful voice. It's been a long time since I read any Hemingway. Recently listened to a friend from South America talking about bull fighting. So I wanted to read. Very interesting book because in some ways nothing much happens. It's about the patterns of interaction among the characters--they all cross and recross around the female character. I particularly loved the scenes up in the mountain trout fishing. Even the maleness of the scene made me think of my brother. I wasn't touched that much by the fishing because I was a girl. Interested in the bull fighting scenes after listening to my friend describe the bull fight and watching a female colleague show her distaste. Something seemed right about the book after watching that. Though the female there is attracted to the worst scenes with the horses, not put off as the narrator thinks she will be.

Also recently drove down the coast past the Sylvia Beach hotel (think that's the name). Every room there is decorated after a writer. I stayed there in the Hemingway room with guns and hunting trophies. And copies of his book. I chose this book to listen to during the last part of my drive. Something seemed right about that too.

This book is a gem. Very tight and understated. I liked that. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
http://www.mytwostotinki.com/?p=602

After a long hiatus, I read these days my first Hemingway book since many years: Fiesta – The Sun Also Rises.

We all know – or we think to know – Ernest Hemingway, even if we had not read any of his books; of all 20th century authors, he was arguably the most successful in creating a worldwide public image of himself, the brand “Hemingway”: a manly man keeping himself busy doing manly things (or things he thought were proof of his manliness). And when he was not busy hunting the biggest game, fishing the biggest fish, fighting the most dangerous bull, reporting from the most dangerous war front lines, downing the biggest amount of booze or courting the most attractive women (all the things you seem to have to do when you want to keep a show of being a manly man), he was hammering in a creative outburst with great energy all these outstanding manly novels and stories written in his trademark manly style into his typewriter, preferably stripped down to the waist and with a hard drink and a photographer at hand to distribute this image of the most manly author on earth and his hairy chest to all his readers and non-readers.

I never quite understood what’s exactly so manly about killing animals just for the fun and show-off, or what’s exactly so manly about being a third-degree alcoholic always on the border of a drunken stupor, or what’s exactly so manly about blowing your own brain out with a shotgun. What I quite understood somehow from the first time I came across Hemingway was that this was an author who had a serious issue with his own manliness (or possibly the lack thereof).

Many authors are a bit weird, or have issues, and some of the most talented writers were outright lunatics. So I am not holding this image and ridiculous and narcissistic show of manliness of the person Hemingway against his writing. A book is very frequently more perfect, even more intelligent than its author. We should never judge a book or any other piece of art based on personal sympathy or antipathy for the creator of this artwork. But in some cases, the defaults and flaws of the author show also in the artwork, and then the personality of the author becomes an issue. Fiesta – The Sun Also Rises is in my opinion such a case.

Some American and British expats, mostly wealthy heirs or people with artistic ambitions, mingle in the Paris of the mid 1920s. Life is pretty cheap after the war and Paris is a permissive city with a famous nightlife that made it so attractive for foreigners with hard currency. Paris was the place to be when you were a young heterosexual writer or journalist or when you were just looking for fun (Babylon Berlin was the obvious choice for the less mainstream-oriented faction).

Jake Barnes, the narrator, is a young journalist. His friend, the writer Robert Cohn, starts a relationship with the attractive and promiscuous heiress Lady Brett (two times divorced and planning another rich marriage) with whom also Barnes is in love.

Barnes, who was a soldier at the Italian front in WWI got seriously wounded and as a result is emasculated. Brett seems to love him nevertheless, but since her appetite cannot be fulfilled by Barnes, she starts a relationship with Cohn, and later in Spain where the group is traveling together with some other friends, Bill Gorton and Brett's fiance Mike Campell, to watch a bullfight, she is seducing a very young bullfighter, Romero.

During the fiesta, the whole group gets drunk and starts to attack Cohn with anti-Semitic remarks. Cohn, who used to be an amateur boxer in college starts a fistfight and is beating up his opponents. After everyone is sober again, the group is quickly dispersing. Barnes receives a message from Lady Brett to come to Madrid, where she had gone with Romero. He finds her penniless in a cheap hotel. She is informing Jake that she intends to return to her fiance.

A quite interesting scenario I have to admit. The chapters are short. The sentences are very short. The book is a very fast read. In some scenes Hemingway shows that his craftsmanship can be excellent, especially when he describes the fiesta, the bullfight that he loved (and that I detest) so much. The book gives in some good moments a clear idea why Hemingway is such a highly revered author in the opinion of many readers.

And yet, I had more than one moment while I read the book, when I got so angry with Hemingway’s writing that I threw the book in disgust at the wall of my room.

As I mentioned, the book consists mainly of very short, childlike sentences. Subject-predicate-object. Subject-predicate-object. Subject-predicate-object. And so on and on, over pages and pages. I simply don’t like it. It does not have to be always the long and winding sentences of a Thomas Mann novel, but there is a thing called syntax and from time to time it would be just nice if the author would give us some sentences that are not written in this childlike style. "Do you have emotions? Strangle them.” This ironic Saul Bellow word about Hemingway’s style sounds very convincing to me after I read Fiesta. In short, when I read a book labeled “novel”, I want indeed read a novel and not a text that reads more like a film script most of the time, even when the author is the manly Hemingway.

Jake Barnes is not the most endearing narrator. Already on the first two pages he does everything to depict Cohn – who he claims is his friend – in the most disgusting and unsympathetic way. And even more, Barnes is using the most primitive anti-Semitic stereotype when it comes to paint Cohn in the most negative color. Describing Cohn’s talent for boxing, Barnes tells us (in one of the early passages before Hemingway falls back to his favorite style):

“He was really very fast. He was so good that Spider promptly overmatched him and got his nose permanently flattened. This increased Cohn’s distaste for boxing, but it gave him a certain satisfaction of some strange sort, and it certainly improved his nose.”

Ah yes, Jews have crooked noses, hahaha – maybe in Hemingway’s eyes that was funny, but I find it only revolting. Similarly disgusting, or even worse are the insults that are thrown at Cohn during the fiesta by the others.

The same goes also for the image of women in the book. Lady Brett, although obviously a really attractive woman, is described as a very promiscuous but also cunning and calculating woman. She takes the men she wants, but she is marrying of course only for the money and wealth that it provides. All this talk about love and feelings is just talk, and her attraction to Barnes may be so strong because she knows she can never have him; the curiosity factor, you know. Barnes is a man only in appearance, but contrary to Cohn, Romero, and all the others, he is physically unable to satisfy her. The other women in the book, for example the French girl Georgette, are called poulet (chicken), and they are ready for the men’s consumption – IF you are a real man that is. I think the misogyny of the narrator is beyond question.

This mix of anti-Semitic and misogynistic stereotypes, together with the display of narcissism and self-pity of the narrator got on my nerves. It got on my nerves to an extent that I had to force myself to finish this repelling book.

Ok, we should not necessarily identify the views of the narrator with the views of the author. Frequently authors put an unreliable narrator in charge or even one with whose opinions they completely disagree. But considering the autobiographical background of the story, we can dismiss this idea in this case.

Unfortunately this is a book written by a young author in Paris who was wounded in WWI, who drank his time away, got involved in the love triangle he describes in the novel. Hemingway’s affair and the story of the book are (almost) identical – with the important difference that Hemingway was emasculated by his alcohol abuse in later years, and not by a WWI wound. Hemingway’s main rival was Harold Loeb, a Jewish author and journalist, who was obviously not only the better boxer than Hemingway in real life, but also the better lover. As a reader we can feel, that Hemingway’s and Barnes’ opinions regarding Jews, women, boxing, bullfighting, and a lot of other things are identical. And it is not good when an author writes a book that is “too close to home.”

Spiteful, misogynistic and full of anti-Semitic stereotypes, written in a childlike style. That is Fiesta, by Ernest Hemingway. I know that's a harsh verdict but I am here to give you my honest opinion for what it's worth.

I am afraid the next manly Hemingway book has to wait for a long time to be read and reviewed by me.

P.S.: As for stereotypes, I almost forgot it - but it adds to the bleak picture; Hemingway's characters (much as the author himself, as we know from his letters) have also strong opinions about non-whites. The infamous N word is used exclusively to characterize black people, who in general have no individual name.

Examples: an Afro-American jazz musician is described like this by the narrator:

"The n(...) drummer waved at Brett.... 'Hahre you?' 'Great.' 'Thaats good.' He was all teeth and lips."

Yes, just like Jews have crooked noses, blacks are "niggers", cannot speak proper English and have thick lips and shiny teeth in Hemingway's world. But it comes even worse when the narrator meets a friend who was placing a bet on a black boxer in Vienna:

'Remember something about a prize-fight. Enormous Vienna prize-fight. Had a n(...) in it. Remember n(...) perfectly.' 'Go on.' 'Wonderful n(...). Looked like Tiger Flowers, only four times as big. All of a sudden everybody started to throw things. Not me. N(...)'d just knocked local boy down. N(...) put up his glove. Wanted to make a speech. Then the local boy hit him. Then he knocked white boy cold. Then everybody commenced to throw chairs. N(...) went home with us in our car.'

And so on. Fifteen times the N word on less than one page. I don't want to be politically correct but Hemingway's characters are without exception extremely racist, shallow and uninteresting people. Why do I have to follow this story of a bunch of drunkards that are described without any depth in a staccato language that makes every dialogue from a soap opera in comparison sound like high literature? Just because his characters share the author's own unsupportable opinions about race, Jews, drinking, women and bullfighting?

Thanks, but no, thank you.

( )
  Mytwostotinki | Dec 14, 2015 |
http://www.mytwostotinki.com/?p=602

After a long hiatus, I read these days my first Hemingway book since many years: Fiesta – The Sun Also Rises.

We all know – or we think to know – Ernest Hemingway, even if we had not read any of his books; of all 20th century authors, he was arguably the most successful in creating a worldwide public image of himself, the brand “Hemingway”: a manly man keeping himself busy doing manly things (or things he thought were proof of his manliness). And when he was not busy hunting the biggest game, fishing the biggest fish, fighting the most dangerous bull, reporting from the most dangerous war front lines, downing the biggest amount of booze or courting the most attractive women (all the things you seem to have to do when you want to keep a show of being a manly man), he was hammering in a creative outburst with great energy all these outstanding manly novels and stories written in his trademark manly style into his typewriter, preferably stripped down to the waist and with a hard drink and a photographer at hand to distribute this image of the most manly author on earth and his hairy chest to all his readers and non-readers.

I never quite understood what’s exactly so manly about killing animals just for the fun and show-off, or what’s exactly so manly about being a third-degree alcoholic always on the border of a drunken stupor, or what’s exactly so manly about blowing your own brain out with a shotgun. What I quite understood somehow from the first time I came across Hemingway was that this was an author who had a serious issue with his own manliness (or possibly the lack thereof).

Many authors are a bit weird, or have issues, and some of the most talented writers were outright lunatics. So I am not holding this image and ridiculous and narcissistic show of manliness of the person Hemingway against his writing. A book is very frequently more perfect, even more intelligent than its author. We should never judge a book or any other piece of art based on personal sympathy or antipathy for the creator of this artwork. But in some cases, the defaults and flaws of the author show also in the artwork, and then the personality of the author becomes an issue. Fiesta – The Sun Also Rises is in my opinion such a case.

Some American and British expats, mostly wealthy heirs or people with artistic ambitions, mingle in the Paris of the mid 1920s. Life is pretty cheap after the war and Paris is a permissive city with a famous nightlife that made it so attractive for foreigners with hard currency. Paris was the place to be when you were a young heterosexual writer or journalist or when you were just looking for fun (Babylon Berlin was the obvious choice for the less mainstream-oriented faction).

Jake Barnes, the narrator, is a young journalist. His friend, the writer Robert Cohn, starts a relationship with the attractive and promiscuous heiress Lady Brett (two times divorced and planning another rich marriage) with whom also Barnes is in love.

Barnes, who was a soldier at the Italian front in WWI got seriously wounded and as a result is emasculated. Brett seems to love him nevertheless, but since her appetite cannot be fulfilled by Barnes, she starts a relationship with Cohn, and later in Spain where the group is traveling together with some other friends, Bill Gorton and Brett's fiance Mike Campell, to watch a bullfight, she is seducing a very young bullfighter, Romero.

During the fiesta, the whole group gets drunk and starts to attack Cohn with anti-Semitic remarks. Cohn, who used to be an amateur boxer in college starts a fistfight and is beating up his opponents. After everyone is sober again, the group is quickly dispersing. Barnes receives a message from Lady Brett to come to Madrid, where she had gone with Romero. He finds her penniless in a cheap hotel. She is informing Jake that she intends to return to her fiance.

A quite interesting scenario I have to admit. The chapters are short. The sentences are very short. The book is a very fast read. In some scenes Hemingway shows that his craftsmanship can be excellent, especially when he describes the fiesta, the bullfight that he loved (and that I detest) so much. The book gives in some good moments a clear idea why Hemingway is such a highly revered author in the opinion of many readers.

And yet, I had more than one moment while I read the book, when I got so angry with Hemingway’s writing that I threw the book in disgust at the wall of my room.

As I mentioned, the book consists mainly of very short, childlike sentences. Subject-predicate-object. Subject-predicate-object. Subject-predicate-object. And so on and on, over pages and pages. I simply don’t like it. It does not have to be always the long and winding sentences of a Thomas Mann novel, but there is a thing called syntax and from time to time it would be just nice if the author would give us some sentences that are not written in this childlike style. "Do you have emotions? Strangle them.” This ironic Saul Bellow word about Hemingway’s style sounds very convincing to me after I read Fiesta. In short, when I read a book labeled “novel”, I want indeed read a novel and not a text that reads more like a film script most of the time, even when the author is the manly Hemingway.

Jake Barnes is not the most endearing narrator. Already on the first two pages he does everything to depict Cohn – who he claims is his friend – in the most disgusting and unsympathetic way. And even more, Barnes is using the most primitive anti-Semitic stereotype when it comes to paint Cohn in the most negative color. Describing Cohn’s talent for boxing, Barnes tells us (in one of the early passages before Hemingway falls back to his favorite style):

“He was really very fast. He was so good that Spider promptly overmatched him and got his nose permanently flattened. This increased Cohn’s distaste for boxing, but it gave him a certain satisfaction of some strange sort, and it certainly improved his nose.”

Ah yes, Jews have crooked noses, hahaha – maybe in Hemingway’s eyes that was funny, but I find it only revolting. Similarly disgusting, or even worse are the insults that are thrown at Cohn during the fiesta by the others.

The same goes also for the image of women in the book. Lady Brett, although obviously a really attractive woman, is described as a very promiscuous but also cunning and calculating woman. She takes the men she wants, but she is marrying of course only for the money and wealth that it provides. All this talk about love and feelings is just talk, and her attraction to Barnes may be so strong because she knows she can never have him; the curiosity factor, you know. Barnes is a man only in appearance, but contrary to Cohn, Romero, and all the others, he is physically unable to satisfy her. The other women in the book, for example the French girl Georgette, are called poulet (chicken), and they are ready for the men’s consumption – IF you are a real man that is. I think the misogyny of the narrator is beyond question.

This mix of anti-Semitic and misogynistic stereotypes, together with the display of narcissism and self-pity of the narrator got on my nerves. It got on my nerves to an extent that I had to force myself to finish this repelling book.

Ok, we should not necessarily identify the views of the narrator with the views of the author. Frequently authors put an unreliable narrator in charge or even one with whose opinions they completely disagree. But considering the autobiographical background of the story, we can dismiss this idea in this case.

Unfortunately this is a book written by a young author in Paris who was wounded in WWI, who drank his time away, got involved in the love triangle he describes in the novel. Hemingway’s affair and the story of the book are (almost) identical – with the important difference that Hemingway was emasculated by his alcohol abuse in later years, and not by a WWI wound. Hemingway’s main rival was Harold Loeb, a Jewish author and journalist, who was obviously not only the better boxer than Hemingway in real life, but also the better lover. As a reader we can feel, that Hemingway’s and Barnes’ opinions regarding Jews, women, boxing, bullfighting, and a lot of other things are identical. And it is not good when an author writes a book that is “too close to home.”

Spiteful, misogynistic and full of anti-Semitic stereotypes, written in a childlike style. That is Fiesta, by Ernest Hemingway. I know that's a harsh verdict but I am here to give you my honest opinion for what it's worth.

I am afraid the next manly Hemingway book has to wait for a long time to be read and reviewed by me.

P.S.: As for stereotypes, I almost forgot it - but it adds to the bleak picture; Hemingway's characters (much as the author himself, as we know from his letters) have also strong opinions about non-whites. The infamous N word is used exclusively to characterize black people, who in general have no individual name.

Examples: an Afro-American jazz musician is described like this by the narrator:

"The n(...) drummer waved at Brett.... 'Hahre you?' 'Great.' 'Thaats good.' He was all teeth and lips."

Yes, just like Jews have crooked noses, blacks are "niggers", cannot speak proper English and have thick lips and shiny teeth in Hemingway's world. But it comes even worse when the narrator meets a friend who was placing a bet on a black boxer in Vienna:

'Remember something about a prize-fight. Enormous Vienna prize-fight. Had a n(...) in it. Remember n(...) perfectly.' 'Go on.' 'Wonderful n(...). Looked like Tiger Flowers, only four times as big. All of a sudden everybody started to throw things. Not me. N(...)'d just knocked local boy down. N(...) put up his glove. Wanted to make a speech. Then the local boy hit him. Then he knocked white boy cold. Then everybody commenced to throw chairs. N(...) went home with us in our car.'

And so on. Fifteen times the N word on less than one page. I don't want to be politically correct but Hemingway's characters are without exception extremely racist, shallow and uninteresting people. Why do I have to follow this story of a bunch of drunkards that are described without any depth in a staccato language that makes every dialogue from a soap opera in comparison sound like high literature? Just because his characters share the author's own unsupportable opinions about race, Jews, drinking, women and bullfighting?

Thanks, but no, thank you.

( )
  Mytwostotinki | Dec 14, 2015 |
Wonderful story, although Brett's character bothered me a bit. She was almost, expecting of her male counterparts. Broke and bed hopping, and often arrogant in a sense, truly allowing to be cashed and carried quite literally from one country to the next. And still demanding to be accepted as an elegant lady of royalty?

Of course I understand in a sense she being the main drive behind the story, cleverly narrated through the eyes of Jake, although introduced by Cohn. Again, I still enjoyed the story a great deal. A classic take on hedonism and drunkenness that is actually quite inspiring, sans the fighting. ( )
  Joseph_Stelmaszek | Nov 29, 2015 |
The reader is plunged vividly into the worlds of both the post-war lost generation of Paris in the 1920's and the blood-soaked and alcohol-fuelled fiesta de San Firmino of Pamplona. As always, Hemingway is sparse, brutal, and masculine. ( )
  deckehoe | Nov 27, 2015 |
In my younger and more parochial years, I loved the Paris chapters, which made me feel worldly and knowing and vicariously well-traveled. Once the setting shifts to Spain. . .well, I guess you have to really be into matadors and fishing and romanticized peasants. When I read this a few years back the whole thing fell flat. But four stars because of how the Paris chapters once made me feel. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
I was extremely underwhelmed by this book, especially considering how often it shows up on the "greatest novels of all time" lists. Quite honestly, I'm not sure what anyone really enjoyed:

* It's hard to sympathize with or like any of the characters. They are all repulsive or unattractive in one way or another which makes it hard to care about what happens to them.

* I also found most of the characters to be pretty one dimensional. From the first introduction of each one, it usually becomes clear what they represent and they don't really develop or change in any way. You've got the Jewish guy who just wants everyone to like him but instead is surrounded by antisemitism (not necessarily the author's, just the times), you've got the drunk Scottish war veteran, a cocky Spanish bull fighter, an impotent narrator and a slutty and manly spoiled brat of a woman. They all start the novel that way and they all end the novel that way and the lack of any development makes the story very dull.

* Moreover, there is no real plot to speak of. Quite frankly, nothing really happens in the novel. The vast majority of it is spent describing the obscene amount of time and money the characters spend drinking and partying. Although I understand that this is one of the themes of the novel - how meaningful life is for its characters - it makes for a very uncompelling story.

There were two positive points:

(1) I listened to the audiobook version which was extremely well read.

(2) The last few sentences of the novel are somewhat moving and do a good job of tying some themes back together. However, it was just not enough to save this book.

( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
Such a sad and moving tale. Ernest Hemingway's style of writing is so simple and leaves its mark. ( )
  trile1000 | Oct 23, 2015 |
How do we evaluate novels written in a different historical millieu? Do we only regard them as we would have back then, judged by what audiences then would say about their content? Or do we instead evaluate them from the perspective of today?

More confusingly, what do we say about characters who are intended to be kind of unlikable, and incidentally racist? In some cases, as The Great Gatsby, the two are undeniably linked. But in others, like this book, they seem separate: everyone's kinda racist! Can we not hold that against the novel's quality, while simultaneously celebrating the zeitgeist revealed by time's distance?

Mixed up in all this is the old question of authorial intent. How much of these distasteful, annoying elements did Hemingway mean to put into the novel? Does that matter for how good the novel is? To put it another way, is this (somewhat unintended) mimesis make the novel all the more true to life, or just an asshole?

Sadly, these worries—far more than the plot or characters—are what animated my relationship with the book. Hemingway, being one of the most lauded American writers of the 20th century, certainly deserves the benefit of my doubt. And yet.

This might be due to me reading them nearby, but I can't help but compare The Sun Also Rises to The Great Gatsby, as I alluded to earlier. In that case, Fitzgerald seems to recognize the hubris brought about by material wealth, satirizing and excoriating it in turn. Yet for Hemingway, those are just the background noise; the lower-class here are native scenery, mentioned as chauffeurs and concierges and Spanish locals. While there are a few characters who play larger roles, for most of the book it feels like an exotic adventure where the characters find themselves, like a depressing version of Eat, Pray, Love.

Ours heroes are largely American expatriates, enjoying the newfound affluence of US influence abroad, and most of all the benefits of their class. While Gatsby was undone by daring to prize wealth, Hemingway's protagonists take financial security for granted, instead suffering from generalized anomie after The War. To put it another way, FItzgerald's sympathies are with Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby—Hemingway's are with the partygoers.

I'm one of the last people to demand likable protagonists in a novel, but all I ask for is some self-awareness of what's going on from the writer. And here's where the problem of intent and history comes into play: if the book seems to not fully apprehend its own characters, does that make it a bad one? I'd say yes, and that problem was largely why I didn't like the book.

That said, by the end I did come around some on my assessment. At first, Hemingway's prose largely fell flat for me. The novel almost felt like a summary of itself, an abridgment stripped of scene details and all the stuff that makes me love literature. Instead, we get a parade of insufferable bon mots, driving in the point again and again that these people are deeply bored and deeply unhappy. It took a few chapters to actually get a good description of where the characters even were, and up to that point I was almost ready to chuck the book against the wall. The writing feels punchy, but I felt exactly zero kinship with (and zero understanding of) how it understands the experience of reality.

But once the book reaches Spain, the world becomes more fleshed out. Paris wasn't just boring to us, but also boring to the main characters. While the bullfights are famously detailed, even the lesser aspects of the town receive far more attention than Paris. The feeling is of a finer perception of the world, even called out specifically when Jake newly notices his surroundings after a fight. This kind of subjectivity was a pleasant discovery, and one that raised my opinion of Hemingway, even if not of the book as a whole. I can understand the choice he made, but I think the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits.

I know for sure that someone's going to sucker me into reading other Hemingway in the future, but this outing has left me with near-zero appetite for such an undertaking. My reactions moderated some by the end, but I can't get over my disgust for the first hundred pages. Ugh. ( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
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