In its story of the idle, hedonistic elite, it expresses the anxieties of the modern age – the passing of the old world, the new roles of the sexes, and man’s loss of faith in God, in ideals, in himself. Read it.
What I loved
The spare beauty and vigour of Hemingway’s prose. The strength of an active sentence, the power of that perfect verb.
It made me want to dance and drink whisky in Paris, and fish and drink wine chilled in a mountain stream in the mountains of Spain, and see a bullfight and drink from a wine skin in Pamploma. To say damn this and damn that, and “What a lot of rot” and “To hell with you, Lady Ashley.”
I was always right there with the characters when they were drunk on life, and when things soured, and when they were sick of it all. They were weak but they kept going.
The last line: ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’ Have Jake’s feelings for Brett changed? Have they been through all this before?
What I learned about writing
Obviously, it made me want to steal Hemingway’s style and repeat myself a lot.
The iceberg method. Show a thing’s importance by writing around it, writing in its negative space. Show a character’s passions by never writing about their emotions, but by writing about what holds their attention. Show yearning by, out of place, glancing over what one cannot have.
What didn’t work
Everything worked. The number of characters in Paris confused me, but that was intentional. The start of Book Three when the fiesta was winding down and Jake was alone bored me, but that was intentional, too.
I had a hankering for Hemingway after seeing Mindnight in Paris, but because I was halfway through another book and have a rule of only reading one novel at a time, I took The Sun Also Rises off the shelf and started dipping into it. Before I knew it, it had sucked me in, knocked the other book out of my mind and was finished, like some literary pack of Pringles that left me covered in the greasy, shameful crumbs of broken discipline.
Midnight in Paris also inspired me to read up on modernism, and this, along with whatever I’ve learned from two years worth of reading and living, gave me an understanding of Fiesta that I didn’t have the first time around.