The Sun Also Rises

The Lying Bastard

Set in post-WWI-era Europe among a seemingly rich and careless group of English and American expatriates, The Sun Also Rises was Ernest Hemingway’s debut full-length novel. It is interesting that he chose to narrate the novel in the first person considering the fact that his previous work, mainly in short fiction, was written primarily in the third person. A third-person perspective allows and even encourages a cool, detached, reportorial style. The first-person perspective, on the other hand, is a much more personally emotional, subjective approach to storytelling. So it is a real feat that Hemingway’s narrator in The Sun Also Rises, Jacob Barnes, is able to successfully sustain an attitude of ostensible nonchalance and world-weariness in the face of the intense personal anguish that he is slowly revealed to be experiencing.

Barnes manages to convey his supposed detachment through a matter-of-fact tone; vocabulary that is literally ambiguous and stripped-down, though apparently precise in the world of the initiated characters; and a palpable effort to shroud any emotion. Yet, there remain windows into Barnes’s inner workings, into the main tensions of an otherwise superficial and untroubled tale. His treatment of the character...

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