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Rudat, W.E. (1992). Anti-Semitism in The Sun also Rises: Traumas, Jealousies, and the Genesis of Cohn. Am. Imago, 49(2):263-275.

(1992). American Imago, 49(2):263-275

Anti-Semitism in The Sun also Rises: Traumas, Jealousies, and the Genesis of Cohn

Wolfgang E. H. Rudat

Numerous studies have been written on anti-Semitism in The Sun Also Rises, with many of those studies at least implicitly accusing Hemingway himself of anti-Semitism. In his 1988 book entitled The Sun Also Rises: A Novel of the Twenties, Michael S. Reynolds made the following reply to those charges:

Some readers will want to use the Sun's text to charge Hemingway with anti-Semitism. True or not, the charge is irrelevant to the reading of the novel. Jake Barnes is not Ernest Hemingway. To confuse the author with his narrator is to misread the novel and to relegate Hemingway's insights into his age to the same level as Jake's… [Yet] It would be most remarkable if [Hemingway] were not anti-Semitic… Ernest Hemingway is a historical result, no better or worse than the America in which he was raised. We should not, therefore, shoot the messenger who sends us over the decades such a clear picture of our national values. (54)

I agree of course with Reynolds' cautions not to confuse Hemingway with his narrator, and not to let Hemingway's possible own anti-Semitism interfere with our appreciation of a work of art created when the Zeitgeist was radically different from our own. I disagree, however, with Reynolds' contention that the charge of Hemingway's possible anti-Semitism is irrelevant to our reading of the novel. I disagree precisely because “Jake Barnes is not Hemingway.”

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