The Sun Also Rises


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I've read this book a few times, and I think of it as one of the most perfectly written books in the American vernacular, despite Hemingway's personal idiosyncrasies of translation, which can annoy anyone who really has ever spent a lot of time thinking in a foreign language. I would never translate Italian in the strangely formal voice he uses to translate French and Spanish, merely because those languages have a formal voice and we do not. But this book is perfectly expressed in carefully chosen words that ring true sentence after sentence. Then there's the glamorous exotic story of American expatriates living the high life in Paris and going on the fiesta in Spain and the associations of the thinly-disguised portraits of the Fitzgeralds and other Lost Generation celebrities.

If I ever wanted to write a great book and had no ideas of my own, I think paraphrasing this one would do the job nicely, and give the aspiring author a practically guaranteed best-seller. So get to work! Of course, anyone creative enough to write a book as nicely as Hemingway wouldn't have the tenacity to paraphrase him, and anyone with the tenacity to paraphrase Hemingway would probably spin out something dull.

It's an apt tribute to the power of language that you couldn't make a halfway decent movie out of any of Hemingway's books.

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