My second Jazz Age January read this month is The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
The Sun Also Rises takes place in the 1920s, telling the stories of a group of friends in Paris and Spain. They’re wanderers, rich/poor, aimless living, and spending a majority of their time drinking and partying.
Jake Barnes, our main character, who received what seems to be an impotence-related accident in the war, travels with his friends, experiencing Paris and the bullfighting of Spain.
Everyone is in love with Lady Brett Ashley, and she has had her fair share of lovers as well. But Jake, and many of the other men, will follow her to the ends of the world if need be, helping her out of trouble and giving her everything she needs.
The bullfighting scenes were enlightening and made me think about bullfighting as an art, but also as the fact that bulls are killed during it. I don’t think I’d like to go see a bullfight, but Hemingway’s descriptions of the bullfights were beautiful and didn’t make the scenario seem cruel.
And then I think about the characters themselves, traveling aimlessly around Paris and Spain, and drinking all the time, without any cares. But while they seem so carefree and happy, the excessive drinking covers up real life and doesn’t force them to deal with the issues at hand – like making money to support their travels, confronting friends about relationship issues, and being grown-ups.
Would you venture to Spain to see bullfighting?