As a young man, Ernest Hemingway worked as a newspaper reporter and as a wartime ambulance driver in Spain. Hemingway draws on both experiences in his first novel: The Sun Also Rises. The story is set mostly in 1920s Spain and is told with the directness and conciseness of a newspaper article.
Narrator Jake Barnes is an American journalist living in Paris in the 1920s. He and his friends decide to travel to Spain - first to go fishing in the mountains; then to attend a festival in Pamplona, featuring bullfighting and the famous Running of the Bulls. Among Jake's friend is Britt - known as "Lady Ashley". Britt is having an affair or has had an affair with most of the group. In Pamplona, the group drinks heavily and Britt hooks up with a local matador.
This book lacks a strong plot, but focuses more on defining the characters through their dialogue and their actions. Hemingway writes with a refreshing simplicity - without wasted words or flowery language. His description of the bullfights paints a picture for the reader as if we were present in the ring.
The Sun Also Rises is a story of sexual liberation and doomed relationships and the endless pursuit of pleasure by the so-called "Lost Generation" - damaged by the first World War and drifting through life without purpose.
It is no surprise it has endured so long.