The Critical Reception of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

November 2011
358 pages
9x6 in
Literary Criticism in Perspective
ISBN: 9781571133663
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House

The Critical Reception of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

Peter L. Hays

Changing critical views of Hemingway's great novel of the Lost Generation, from publication to the present.
In the eight decades since its publication, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, like a Rorschach blot, has measured not only critics' opinions of Hemingway but also the critical temper of the times. An initial reviewer saw the book as a satire on American expatriates, an unflattering portrait of wastrels and a nymphomaniac wandering Europe. Other critics of the time saw it as a reflection of post-First World War malaise, inscribing for history the Lost Generation - those critics, that is, who took it as a serious literary effort and did not simply dismiss it as pornographic, as Hemingway's own parents did. Since then the novel has been interpreted, variously, as a study of an impotent man's existential dilemma, re-read as a modern-day version of the Fisher King myth, attacked by feminist critics as the macho diatribe of a misogynist, and, most recently, seen as a study of gender roles and the performance of masculinity. There is no other book that surveys the entire span of The Sun Also Rises criticism, documents the fashionable waves in which criticism has traveled, and points out how each age interprets the novel to suit itself, reflecting the cultural concerns of the moment.

Peter Hays is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of California, Davis.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: In the Beginning
Good Style, Bad Content, No Philosophy: The Initial Reviews
The Development of In-Depth Criticism, 1947-1961
The Hemingway Industry Takes Off:The 1960s and Early 1970s
Critical Theories Take Hold: The Mid-1970s to Mid-1980s
More Theories, Many Gendered, Some Psychological: The Mid-1980s to Mid-1990s
The Continued Proliferation of Theory, 1995-2009
Summary, but No End, No Conclusion
Works Cited


Surveys the eight decades of criticism devoted to the novel from initial 1926 reviews to the latest developments in Hemingway studies. . . . In focusing on the range of criticism, Hays reveals how the novel's changing interpretations often reflect the critics and their cultural concerns more than the novel itself. HEMINGWAY REVIEW

Author Bio

Peter Hays is professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Davis.

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