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Archive for May 22nd, 2016

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.
    –  Oscar Wilde
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On This Day In:
2015 About Character
2014 Your Gain
2013 Look Up
2012 Count Me In
2011 Pirates Four, Three Songs
Sir Charles
Look First, Not Last
2010 Par-a-diddle

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The Sun Also Rises  —  book review
Today’s review is for the quasi-autobiographical novel: “The Sun Also Rises” (1926© / 1954©), written by Ernest Hemingway.  The book has three main topics: expatriate life in Paris / Europe; fishing in Spain; and, bullfights in Spain.  The book follows Jake Barnes, an American newswriter living in Paris as he, in turn, parties, goes fishing, and then goes to see the running of the bulls in Pamplona and the subsequent bull-fights.  The story revolves around Jake, his love interest (Lady Brett Ashley), and a handful of other suitors as they go through the several weeks covered by the book.  I’m told (by Wikipedia) the book is based on a handful of trips Hemingway actually took with some of his “Lost Generation” friends in the early 1920’s.
My reason for reading “this” book was (again) my fear of dying illiterate, that is, without having read (and shared in) some of the great works (thoughts) of humanity.  (Yes, I know everything I read is in English, so I can’t possibly make the claim of sharing “thoughts”, but reading English translations is the closest I will ever come on that front.)  Back to my fear…  I avoided most of “great” literature when back in grammar and high school because I found what little exposure I did get to be incredibly boring.  I have come to feel that without a smattering of life experience, one (or at least I) could not appreciate the range of emotions and experiences the authors were trying to convey.  They simply were too far outside of my realm of experience and so meant nothing to me.  I interpreted this as “boring” and so I’ve avoided “great” literature as much as possible ever since.
Back in February, I quoted the poet Ezra Pound, who once said, “Men do not understand books until they have a certain amount of life, or at any rate no man understands a deep book, until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents.
And I think I mostly believed this.  Now, however, I’m sixty-one years old and it’s harder to use the same excuse.  And, yet, I’m finding it’s still true.
This IS another book which I’ve found boring and I think it’s simply because I can’t relate to it.  I’ve spent a few days visiting Paris.  I’ve done numerous dangerous (stupid) things in my life (not unlike bull-running).  I’ve been fishing.  And, in my early teens, I spent the better part of a whole summer watching bull-fighting on TV (both English and Spanish speaking channels).  Without actually having read the book, one would think I’d had enough common experience to be able to relate to the book.  But, in truth, I did not relate.  Or, at least, I didn’t feel like I did, which is probably the same thing.
So, all in all, I’ve now read a Hemingway, a Fitzgerald and a Steinbeck and found two of three uninteresting and a struggle to get through.  I guess it is possible I just don’t have the “socially literate” gene in me.  In any case, I will keep trying as occasionally I do enjoy one or another “classic”.
Final recommendation: tepid.  Who cares if a book is a “classic” if it’s such a struggle to get through.  My apologies to anyone who loves this book or who’s life was changed by reading it, but I’m just not feelin’ it.  If you’re one of these folks, drop me a comment, ’cause I’m not feelin’ it with you.
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On This Day In:
2015 About Character
2014 Your Gain
2013 Look Up
2012 Count Me In
2011 Pirates Four, Three Songs
Sir Charles
Look First, Not Last
2010 Par-a-diddle

Read Full Post »

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