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Friday, December 23, 2011

Fiesta (the sun also rises) - Ernest Hemingway = a fun, tipsy and sentimental summer

Hemingway is my favourite author to read during summer.  Whether perhaps his books are often infused with exotic drinks, food, fishing and the beaches or that many summers ago while I was just an adolescence with a delicate mind and his books had stirred up something in my unsettling mind and quivered the immobile fibres of my young heart.  This summer, after many years of being away from Queensland and now had decided to settle back, I again picked up a familiar novel by the author …‘Fiesta’.  While I am already well acquainted with the plot and sceneries from my first reading, the emotion of the characters this time, somehow, stirred a little harder, a little deeper and make my summer, this time, a little bit more pleasant and sad.

In Fiesta, Hemingway provided very intimate accounts of the café life in Paris where he worked, in Burguete where he did his fishing and finally in Pamploma where the bull-fighting fiesta took place.  Amidst these accounts, the relationships of Jake, Mike and Robert Cohn toward Brett, an attractive, nonchalant and flamboyant woman are revealed.  Her character is famous for always getting what she wants.  While it is well known that that Hemingway’s sentences are shorts, his writing is simple with concise descriptions, the complexity however, is suffused within the words, the emotion of the characters and their actions.  And the poetry is hidden between the words, it requires from the readers a certain understanding of beauty, grace and masculinity.  His poetry is magical in that you can actually see it in reality, it requires not an ounce of imagination …“Each time he let the bull pass so close that the man and the bull and the cape that filled and pivoted ahead of the bull were all one sharply etched mass.  It was all so slow and so controlled.  It was as though he were rocking the bull to sleep”.

While Fiesta is unlikely to please the faint hearted vegetarians and vegans, it requires from the readers a difference sense of sensitivity, a sensitivity that respects traditions, culture, humanity and a delicate understanding of masculinity.  In this novel, Hemingway revealed his religious character and carefully contrasted this to Brett, who has no appreciation for religion.  This careful contrast was not made with calculation or contemptuousness.  It was made with a simple difference in their understanding of life.  One perpetually chases after her desires and immediate needs, the other lets the currents of life rock and serenade and carry him away.  Yet in Brett, there is something that Hemingway felt is essential to life, hence Jake the protagonist could not help loving her, whether it is her innocence, her desire to live, her oblivion to happiness or her unwilling resignation to anything else but her individuality.  While the presence of religion is their obvious difference, the difference of their hearts and spirituality left undiscussed.

At this time of the year (December 2011), there has been much speculation about how 2012 will continue to be difficult for everyone in term of employment cut and the perpetual downfall of the economy.  I wonder if optimism is the key to get through it all or does it depend on your perspective of life and how much effort one is investing into one’s life.  However 2012 will turn out, however difficult life might get, I do hope that we, in all of our adversities, remain sensitive to traditions, cultures, humanity and each other gender/s; ascriptions that so far have brought much poetry and kindled the eternal flame of life.  Though this may only be a thought, but isn’t pretty to think so?


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