The first bull was Belmonte’s. Belmonte was very good. But because he got thirty thousand pesetas and people had stayed in line all night to buy tickets to see him, the crowd demanded that he should be more than very good. Belmonte’s great attraction is working close to the bull. In bull-fighting they speak of the terrain of the bull and the terrain of the bull-fighter. As long as a bull-fighter stays in his own terrain he is comparatively safe. Each time he enters into the terrain of the bull he is in great danger. Belmonte, in his best days, worked always in the terrain of the bull. This way he gave the sensation of coming tragedy. People went to the corrida to see Belmonte, to be given tragic sensations, and perhaps to see the death of Belmonte. Fifteen years ago they said if you wanted to see Belmonte you should go quickly, while he was still alive. Since then he has killed more than a thousand bulls. When he retired the legend grew up about how his bull-fighting had been, and when he came out of retirement the public were disappointed because no real man could work as close to the bulls as Belmonte was supposed to have done, not, of course, even Belmonte (217–218).
If you want to know, I mean really want to know, modern American literature arose in the 1920s. It was born in 1922, with T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” spent its “younger and more vulnerable years” with F. Scott Fitzgerald, that is, up until 1925 (The Great Gatsby), and then spent the rest of the decade hanging out with Ernest Hemingway.
Bullfights, fistfights, titles derived from the Bible, gritty sacrifices for a cause, and fishing ensued.
Ostensibly, a novel about the happenings among a circle of young American expats in post-WWI Paris, [The Sun Also Rises] is now known as the novel of the Lost Generation. From Jake Barnes’ emasculating war wound, to the aimless and unfaithful Brett Ashley, to the ostracized Robert Cohn… the survivors of the Great War may have escaped with their lives, but not much else.
It’s a great novel, a revelation, five-stars, and my favourite Hemingway novel, too… despite the strange, arguably anti-Semitic and indefensible Robert Cohn passages.
Q: Who is the hero of the novel?
A: The Lost Generation afforded no heroes. All were lost or were broken in the War.
Q: Who is the witness of the novel?
A: Jake Barnes, I guess.
Q: In a few words, compare Fitzgerald and Hemingway?
A: The layers in Hemingway’s novels were more accessible, that aids in re-readability. His writings were full of life, colour, action, travel, and visceral texture (see the quote above). His prose was cleaner and more precise. His novels were all consistently good, as opposed to Fitzgerald, whose first two novels were arguably meh. The former critiqued religiously and the latter with a measure of ambivalence.
Q: And style?
A: Some British literary historians mock Hemingway’s “Iceberg theory,” his clean and clear and honest prose, and his abuse of conjunctions and punctuation. Fine. Hemingway’s prose might not be perfect, he was probably a jerk, but what a world to read and to live and to re-read.