The Garden of Eden

The Garden of EdenThe Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Garden of Eden, unfinished as it is, is one of my favorite novels, and, undoubtedly, stands as proof of Hemingway’s most enduring of traits; he was not only capable of, but also willing to reinvent his writing, always aspiring for a different style.

Much like The Old Man and The Sea, The Garden of Eden is inherently different from his earlier works. And it shows a different layer, more human, to one of the great “macho” writers in history.

Taking place on the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s, the story is as follows: a young American writer, David Bourne, and his wife, Catherine, are happy and in love, and to some extent, the opening chapters are a clear reflection of the title itself.

I find Catherine, as a character, perfectly endearing. She’s a bit wild and crazy, but also passionate, and in no way, falls under a certain stereotype. The games they play, more or less provoked by Catherine herself, create the tension in this novel, and when they both fall in love with the same woman…

As I said earlier, this isn’t exactly Hemingway’s usual type of story, but in the same way, it’s a writer’s story. It’s a story about a writer writing a story, about all those labyrinthine mechanisms that allow for such a process to take place, and it’s a very good way to get inside Hemingway’s head, to understand more about this strange symbiosis man-writer.

I’m sure, by the way the story progresses and the manner in which the tension builds up, that something tragical would have happened. Or maybe not. The only negative part about this novel is that it doesn’t have an end.

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3 comments on “The Garden of Eden

  1. Karen Klink says:

    I've read most of Hemingway's novels, but not this one. From your review, I think I'll have to try it. Curious how men, in particular, tend to become "more human" as they grow older–less testosterone, I expect. No end? Definitely must read it, to understand what you mean by that.

    • He shot himself before he got a chance to finish his first draft. Anyway, I assure you, this novel is very different from any of his earlier works. And it's not just a terribly beautiful love story, and bizarre and wild at the same time, but it's also a "writer's novel" – a writer has something useful to learn from reading this novel (I don't want to spoil anything so I'll just say that David's writing, and well the scenes when he's writing are some of the best scenes about this intricate process I have ever read.)

  2. sight66 says:

    Quite possibly my favorite Hemingway novel, maybe my favorite novel period. Definitely in my top 10.

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