Hemingway probably broke a dozen rules for today’s writers. Nothing dramatic happens in the first chapter. It is filled with long paragraphs of description and character analysis. In fact, that’s how the whole book reads. I couldn’t discern what modern readers would call a plot. Near the end of the book, I discovered a thin plot of relationships. If Hemingway were an unknown author today, book publishers would probably not give this book a second glance.
I didn’t like most of the book. I am not an aficionado of bull fighting, boxing, or getting drunk, and Hemingway appears to be an expert in all three. But then, I tell myself, he wrote for what is called the lost generation of the early twentieth century, the same audience F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound entertained.
The book showcased a few of Hemingway’s talents. I enjoyed the descriptions of the towns and countryside of Spain. By the end of the story, I thoroughly understood the four main characters. However, the only person who showed redeeming qualities was Jake, who spits out the story in short, choppy sentences.
So why did Hemingway win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954? I don’t know. I suppose like most writers, Hemingway’s style and prose improved with time. Perhaps I’ll read For Whom the Bell Tolls, considered his finest masterpiece, just to find out. Donna Wittlif