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.
Hemingway’s spare and abundant prose with its sharp edge suck the reader into the narrative, characters and interaction.
A masculine, robust tone set the stage with two memorable characters in great contrast. Jake a man left impotent from a war injury, desperately scrapes accepting and living with his physical, emotional and mental injury. Brett, his true love, also impacted by Jake’s injury. She is a difficult character to like. Beautiful but unattractive similar to a rose. She struggles seeking a man filled with stamina to keep up with her sexual appetite. Her love for Jake isn’t enough to satiate her carnal cravings. Brett wants what she can’t have, Jake, the one constant she continuously returns to time after time, knowing he is incapable of providing to her intimate desires. A vicious circle finds itself teasing these two starving players.
“She was sitting up now. My arm was around her and she was leaning back against me, and we were quite calm. She was looking into my eyes with that way she had of looking that made you wonder whether she really saw out of her own eyes. They would look on and on after every one else’s eyes in the world would have stopped looking. She looked as though there were nothing on earth she would not look at like that, and really she was afraid of so many things,”
Hemingway’s powerful language gives the reader privy to the pain and anguish Jake and Brett both deal with and finally come to accept its harsh reality. High impact, scanty on words not lacking an abundant of depth, allowing the potent bare turmoil rendering the characters emotionally comatose.
“I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
Wayward characters all clawing at finding where their place in the world is, attempting to fill their individual needs and wants as the entire world rebalances itself. Changes leaving people scattered and lost among the ruins and consequences, living life in a day knowing the fragility of existence. A timeless classic.
“you can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”