Customer Reviews for

The Garden of Eden

Average Rating 4
( 19 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2003

    Interesting Read

    I cannot agree more with Kelvin MacGregor. No one I have ever met has understood this book in the same way. 'Garden of Eden' is definitely one of Hemingway's greatest accomplishments. It draws you in and doesn't let you go until you're finished.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2001

    Fine vintage Hemingway but without real closure.

    Hemingway, at his best, was a master of the short story form and a reasonably good, though not outstanding, novelist. At his death he left a number of unfinished manuscripts, material in various stages of development that he was working on and, in some cases, struggling with. Knowing this, I hesitated to pick this book up for a long time, not wanting to read the master's own discards and figuring he knew what was good enough for publication and what was not and that what he left, at his death, was manifestly not. Reading ISLANDS IN THE STREAM some years back, I felt confirmed in this belief for that was a clumsy and self-absorbed effort and I think he must have known that. Later, I had a similar experience when I tried TRUE AT FIRST LIGHT, the most recent posthumous addition to his opus. More recently, however, I was bored for lack of fresh reading material and so picked up THE GARDEN OF EDEN to read on a plane trip. Although this one was unfinished at his death and ends in such a fashion as to drive that sad point home, it is nevertheless outstanding Hemingway. Aside from a few lapses here and there and the usual Hemingway tendency toward an almost juvenile self-absorption, this one positively hums with the power of the old Hemingway prose. As sharp and subtle as his best short fiction and as fresh and dynamic as his best novel, THE SUN ALSO RISES, this book unfolds, in crisply vivid detail, the struggle of a youthful writer to hang onto his sense of self-worth and devotion to his work in the face of his passionate love for a difficult and spoiled woman. Yet it's plain why Hemingway may have agonized over this one and held it back from publication, for the man it reveals is not the public persona he cultivated for most of his life. The protagonist in this tale, an avatar of the author, as in most of his works, is a passive and unassertive sort who is unable to deal effectively with the woman he has married. Instead he succumbs to one of her whims after another though he feels they will somehow unman him, allowing her to change him outwardly while losing himself in the satisfaction of his writing, the only thing, besides his wife, we are led to believe he really loves. And yet when his wife brings another woman into their lives to create a menage a trois, the hero does not rebel though he finds himself more and more a plaything of the two women. Is he flattered by their attention and sexual interest, though his wife takes delight in being able to control and manipulate him to her will? And is she jealous of the one thing he has outside of her, his writng, and is that the motive that drives her to turn him into a creature she can wholly control? Hemingway's best works were rooted in his own life experiences and, indeed, as he plumbed those, his well went regrettably dry in his later years, something he sensed and agonized over at the end. Yet this tale is fresh and alive in ways that many of his other later works were not. The one really regrettable thing about it was that he never finished it so there are still some rough parts, where his control slips and he says what he should be implying (by his own famous dictum) and the end tails off into an insipid and half-baked moment of insight leaving the reader feeling cheated. Hemingway, had he focused on this one and finished it in his lifetime, would not have let it stand this way. But it's plain why he did not for this was not the man he wanted others to see. Still, this one is finely wrought and true, for the most part, to the old Hemingway 'voice' and talent. I'm not sorry I finally broke down and read it. SWM

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2000

    .... I wanted to take a vacation,.... after reading this book.

    This novel brings the nature and beauty of the Mediterranian to life. Using exceptional imagery and vivid dialogue, the life of the three lovers are exposed to the reader in a clear and lucid picture. However, reading this novel, I was quite stunned and intrigued by the subject matter, Hemingway was presenting to the reader(s). It kept my attention and will most likely do the same for others. This novel is a 'must read' for fans of Hemingway.

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