For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

April 11, 2010

review by Gabriel

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For wanna-be writers, Hemingway is a brutal read.  His writing style is deceptively simple and the compulsion to imitate him is irresistable.  But the depths of his insight into humanity and his skill with characterisation and dialogue set a standard that is impossible to attain.  Then there’s the fact that the man himself had a damn (and I’ve become addicted to that word since reading Hemingway) interesting life.  Served in WWI, covered the Spanish Civil War, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Loved bullfighting, big-game hunting and deep-sea fishing.  If it wasn’t for the alcoholism, mythomania and suicide, it would be an enviable life.  And in For Whom the Bell Tolls, all of his skill and experience converge to make a near perfect novel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

December 16, 2009

review by Gabriel

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

I didn’t grasp a lot of this book.  Of course, I enjoyed it.  Hell, it’s Hemingway – I loved it.  But I missed its significance due to my ignorance of the historical context, and my failure to pick up its subtleties.  As a result, I understood Fiesta only as a story about hedonism and ennui.  Masterfully written with engaging characters, but essentially superficial.  A seductive account of the privileged class having fun in an exotic locale.  I picked up on the theme of masculinity, but couldn’t understand what Hemingway was trying to get at.  I knew I was missing something.  It turns out, there were two key things I was missing. Read the rest of this entry »