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THE CRITICS - CRITICAL OPINIONS - CRITICAL ANALYSIS
This is a novel about a lady. Her name is Lady Ashley and when the story begins she is living in Paris and it is Spring. That should be a good setting for a romantic but highly moral story...
So my name is Jacob Barnes and I am writing the story, not as I believe is usual in these cases, from a desire for confession, because being a Roman Catholic I am spared that Protestant urge to literary production, nor to set things all out the way they happened for the good of some future generation, nor for any other of the usual highly moral urges, but because I believe it is a good story...
Cohn is the hero.
Ernest Hemingway, from the original opening chapters to The Sun Also Rises, deleted before publication of the novel
But to say that The Sun Also Rises is to emphasize that it has set. The Sun Also Rises, yes, and the earth abides, yes; but our generation is no longer here to rise nor to stay; and the ancient classical sadness of this fact echoes Biblically and beautifully underneath everything in Barnes's meditation on the past, underneath the bright moments...
Jake Barnes represents the best of the lost generation, the best that is lost.
Sheridan Baker, Ernest Hemingway, 1967
Hemingway has written the courtly romance for moderns, tough, dissonant, yet
echoing forever the ancient sweetness of being forever lovelorn and forever
longing, all underlined by the final knowledge of damnation, knowing that
it never could have been, yet doomed to think that it might.
Sheridan Baker, Ernest Hemingway, 1967
Without the war as a causative background these would be merely empty and sick people who drain their lives away into the receding blue notes of a jazz orchestra; but the war was a fact, and it was one which stripped the veil of pious sanctimony and patriotic veneer from the spurious moralities and ethics or traditional American "boosterism" in religion, philosophy, and politics.
Earl Rovit, Ernest Hemingway, 1963
One of the most persistent themes of the twenties was the death of love in World War I. All the major writers recorded it...
This fear of emotional consequences is the key to Barnes's condition. Like so many Hemingway heroes, he has no way to handle subjective complications, and his wound is a token of his impotence.... Whoever bears his sickness well is akin to Barnes, whoever adopts false postures, or willfully hurts others, falls short of his example...
Like the many victims of romantic literature, from Don Quixote to Tom Sawyer, [Cohn] lives by what he reads and neglects reality at his own and others' peril.
Mark Spilka, in Studies in The Sun Also Rises, 1969
And yet The Sun Also Rises is still Hemingway's Waste Land, and Jake is Hemingway's Fisher King. This may just be coincidence, though the novelist had read the poem, but once again here is the protagonist gone impotent, and his land gone sterile. Eliot's London is Hemingway's Paris, where spiritual life in general, and Jake's sexual life in particular, are alike impoverished. Prayer breaks down,... a knowledge of traditional distinctions between good and evil is largely lost, copulation is morally neutral and, cut off from the past chiefly by the spiritual disaster of the war, life has become mostly meaningless. "What shall we do?" is the same constant question, to which the answer must be, again, "Nothing."
Philip Young, Ernest Hemingway, 1952
We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.
Murray Bromberg, Principal, Wang High School of Queens, Holliswood, New York
Sandra Dunn, English Teacher, Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York
Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English, Suffolk County Community
College, Selden, New York