The Sun Also Rises



Ernest Hemingway was born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park on July 21, 1899. He began working as a journalist with the Kansas City Star after high school. During World War I, he was an ambulance driver for the Italian Red Cross. He was injured early in his service and went home in 1919. Hemingway’s traumatic experience in the war and his subsequent search for meaning in the world find expression in many of his works of fiction, including The Sun Also Rises. Although it contains no descriptions of World War I and scarcely even alludes to it directly, Hemingway’s 1926 novel is haunted by the specter of “The Great War,” also known as “The War to End All Wars.”

As a European correspondent for The Toronto Daily Star, Hemingway lived in Paris beginning in 1921. He belonged to the historic artistic circle surrounding the American author Gertrude Stein, which included other important modernists such as Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Pablo Picasso. Hemingway achieved great fame as a writer of both journalism and fiction during his lifetime, ultimately winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Gertrude Stein was a writing mentor for him during his time in Paris, and she is responsible for one of the quotations in the epigraph of The Sun Also Rises: “You are all a Lost Generation.”

Stein referred to Hemingway’s generation: men and women whose lives were indelibly marked by the First World War. These are the characters Hemingway describes in The Sun Also Rises. To understand the novel, it is important to see it in the context of World War I. Considered the first “modern” war, World War I was of unprecedented scope and horror. Those who returned from it it—many of whom had volunteered, rallied by the title “The War to Save Democracy”—came home traumatized, disenchanted, and alienated from the world they had known before the war. For many Americans, including those of Stein’s circle, the...

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