The Garden of Eden

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David Bourne, a young American writer, finds his Mediteranean honeymoon interrupted by a flood of good notices about his second novel. Catherine, his wife, encourages him in his work...or does she?

Does Catherine resent the time that he spends at his desk? Is he crazy, or has she put a younger, more exotic woman in his path? All David knows is that this is a dangerous game.

In telling who survives this triangle, Hemingway reveals a rare ...

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The Garden of Eden

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David Bourne, a young American writer, finds his Mediteranean honeymoon interrupted by a flood of good notices about his second novel. Catherine, his wife, encourages him in his work...or does she?

Does Catherine resent the time that he spends at his desk? Is he crazy, or has she put a younger, more exotic woman in his path? All David knows is that this is a dangerous game.

In telling who survives this triangle, Hemingway reveals a rare tenderness and vulnerability. Catherine steps off the pages rounded and whole, convincing and deeply appealing. And in David, we see Hemingway himself, the quality of vision required to sustain his own writing, and its price.

Set on the Cote d'Azur, during the 1920s, this acclaimed, bestselling novel, first published in 1986, tells the story of a young American writer, his glamorous wife, and the dangerous, erotic games they play when they both fall in love with the same woman. Suppressed during Hemingway's lifetime, it represents a startling departure in theme and mood from the author's best-known works.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An edited version of a narrative abandoned by the Nobel laureate, The Garden of Eden is about a young American couple in Europe on an extended honeymoon. PW stated that while the manuscript is of scholarly interest, it does not hold up as a ``bona fide Hemingway novel.'' September
Library Journal
A few shards survive in the sandy ruins of Hemingway's garden of Eden: the pastoral and sensual delights of loving and swimming in Provence and Spain; the pleasure the hero, a novelist, feels when he writes ``truly'' about his father and hunting in Africa. The rest is madness, cruelty, and corruption. Unfortunately, neither the joy nor the terror profoundly engages the reader. The bisexual grotesqueries that bind David Bourne, his antic wife, and their complaisant woman lover are for the most part silly or banal, not even sufficiently bizarre to shock. What we have here is juiceless gossip. As fiction, the book utterly failsclumsily plotted, thematically vague and indecisive, the characters unfleshed caricatures. Even Hemingway's lyrical eloquence is stripped to frayed cliches. How then to justify publishing an edited version of a manuscript Hemingway labored over unsuccessfully for 15 years? Arthur Waldhorn, English Dept., City Coll., CUNY
From the Publisher
"Hemingway's farewell, mannered, thrilling, spoiled, pure, loyal to its monumental maker and itself and with no knowledge of coming darkness." — James Salter, The Washington Post Book World

"Hemingway gives you the look and feel of places, the sensuous brilliance of the world's offerings, the excitement of complex relationships, the precision of a hunt or a breakfast, the tensions of sexual intrigue . . . In short, The Garden of Eden is a feast." — Richard Stern, Chicago Tribune Books

"A miracle, a fresh slant on the old magic." — John Updike, The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816141524
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 2/28/1987
  • Pages: 300

Meet the Author

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway did more to influence the style of English prose than any other writer of his time. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established him as one of the greatest literary lights of the 20th century. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He died in 1961.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ernest Miller Hemingway (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 21, 1899
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oak Park, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      July 2, 1961
    2. Place of Death:
      Ketchum, Idaho

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2002


    A posthumous work, possibly Hemingway's finest achievement. This tender love story about a torrid triangular relationship is unlike any of his better known books. A surprisingly modern novel in which the famously 'macho' author gets in touch with his feminine side, it caused quite a stir in literary circles when first published in 1986; not least for its erotic hedonistic content. Set in early 1920s, young lovers David Bourne, a writer, and his beautiful wife Catherine are enjoying an idyllic honeymoon on the French Mediterranean coast ... until David decides it's time to get back to work again on his next book. Fun-loving Catherine, a bit of a rebellious wildchild at heart, soon begins to resent her husband's writerly solitude. When he shuts himself away alone in his study to work (unfortunately, it's what us writers have to do!) she starts to go recklessly out of control. Catherine's suppressed bisexual feelings begin to surface, as does her self-destructive nature and worsening mental condition. As Catherine starts to explore her sexuality, she involves David in a dangerous erotic game with another young woman she herself is attracted to and is willing to share with her man. David is a more sensitive male protagonist than the archetypal strong, silent main characters of Hemingway's other fiction; without a war, maybe this is why. Catherine, who is living on the edge of madness, is a lot like that other damaged Catherine (Barkley) in A Farewell To Arms. The romantic Provence setting is enchanting and makes you want to visit the tiny seaport village of le Grau du Roi; I did, actually, but found it disappointingly touristy (as most famous places in fiction are apt to be nowadays) and is no longer the quiet, sleepy, undiscovered Eden depicted in the novel. Hemingway himself honeymooned there with his second wife Pauline and the events in the story are based loosely on his memories of this Mediterranean trip. The Garden of Eden was a labour of love for Hemingway, a novel he worked on on-and-off over the last 15 years of his life between other books that were published such as The Old Man and the Sea. Some critics who have read the entire unfinished manuscript at the John F. Kennedy Library were unhappy with the way it was whittled down in shape to a third of its original size for the final published version. Others, like myself, who haven't yet viewed the manuscript, think Scribners editor Tom Jenks did a wonderful job cutting and condensing to make it such a beautiful book. That 'one true sentence' Hemingway strove so hard to write has never been so apparent as in this deceptively simple sparse prose; easy to read is hard to write, trust me, and I'm in constant awe of what Hemingway was able to achieve with this, his greatest work, I feel. Lastly, did you know that the unedited manuscript also followed the story of another young couple, whose lives intertwined with David and Catherine? Nick Sheldon, a painter, and his wife Barbara, who were living in a small rented apartment in Paris and were modelled on Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. These other two central characters probably got the chop because their storyline wasn't developed enough - or perhaps the story didn't work as well with them in it. Who knows? Maybe one day Scribners will publish the original manuscript in its entirety. I hope so, but doubt it. Let's just be thankful for what we do have.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2008

    The book was Hemingway and it was not good.

    My first brush with Hemingway was probably one of his short stories (although I can't think of what now) back in grade school, but the very first novel of his that I read was 'A Farewell to Arms' in high school. Compared to Shakespeare, 'Beowulf,' and 'Candide,' Hemingway's simple prose was a breath of fresh air and I came to appreciate him for that. He demonstrated that literature didn't have to be full of jargon in order to be appreciated as 'classic.' Unfortunately, as an adult almost 20 years later, I have to say that after reading 'The Garden of Eden,' I don't believe Hemingway would go over well today if he emerged as a new author. His ideas and stories are good, but I feel that his writing style would be trashed by critics, editors, and creative writing workshops. In 'The Garden of Eden,' the basic plot (husband and wife fall in love with same woman with dangerous results) sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, it didn't seem well delivered...or all that 'dangerous.' David, the husband, is a writer who marries Catherine. I was never clear what brought them together or what he saw in her, though. What did she bring to the relationship? There was nothing likable about her. Yet everything was about Catherine. It was all about her hair -- getting it cut like a man/boy -- or tanning her skin to the darkest pigment possible or enjoying sex the way she wanted to or just talking incessantly about nothing. She had no redeeming qualities whatsoever she didn't work, she drank all day every day, and she came up with new ways to annoy David as he tried to write. 'You aren't very hard to corrupt and you're an awful lot of fun to corrupt.' lady. If this were to be made into a movie, I would see Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn in 'The Aviator' playing Catherine. When David reveals that he's in love with the woman that Catherine brought home for herself and for David to mess around with, Catherine gets spiteful. Huh? Worse, we never feel this 'love' that David talks about. Since Catherine usurped all of the new girl's attention at the beginning, when did all this happen between she and David? 'He did not think that he could go on with the story that morning and for a long time he could not.' Not only did David feel that way, but so did I as the reader. Especially when the novel takes a turn and begins to incorporate David's written story about elephants and hunting toward the end of the book. In summary, this was a book that had potential...but quickly fell by the waistside, much like David and Catherine's marriage.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2004


    I picked up this book on a whim before leaving on a 20 hour bus trip and never regretted it. As a close friend said after reading it, 'no wonder he killed himself after writing this, how could you ever hope to top it?' A truly wonderful and touching story, with characters both real and surreal, perfect.

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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 January 29, 2002

    Of Writing and Relationships

    The Garden of Eden is one of several novels that have been edited into shape since Ernest Hemingway¿s death from material that he had been working into a novel. As one might expect, the result contains some beautiful sections and some roughness where the editing and the writing don¿t quite seem to match up. Also, some of the scenes need more work. At the same time, The Garden of Eden has a great deal to say about how Hemingway thought about writing and the process of writing. Anyone who has ever wanted to write fiction will find the book irresistible. Many people criticize Hemingway for being much to self- and male-centered to create credible stories about women and men together. The Garden of Eden represents his most sincere attempt to create a memorable and meaningful female character, in Catherine Bourne, who is the wife of the hero author, David Bourne. Unfortunately, the effort falls short of being totally satisfying because the whole story is really about Hemingway himself. I suspect that Catherine Bourne could have been a terrific character if the story had been written from her point of view, at least in part. Was Hemingway up to doing that? I don¿t know, but probably not. The story revolves around several interesting themes: How a marriage develops in its early days; how relationships need to grow in ways that protect the privacy and identity of each person . . . as well as the soundness of the relationship; and what the legitimate demands are that one married person can make on another. But the book really comes to life when Hemingway is writing about how David Bourne creates his stories, refines them, gets reactions from others, and waits for the reviews. For those who like a little spice with their stories, The Garden of Eden is filled with plot developments that relate to excess drinking and unrestrained sexual temptations, appetites and habits. Another appeal of this book is to read about a time when few foreign tourists went to the French Riviera in the summer, and you could have a beach to yourself then. This book ultimately made me think about the benefit that we receive when we marry a supportive, understanding person . . . and count my blessings. I was also struck by the extent to which my own preferred ways of writing have many parallels to what Hemingway did. Of course, there is little other similarity in the outputs. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000


    Unlike other novels by Hemingway, my expectations were not fulfilled by Hemingway's last piece, Garden of Eden. The characters seemed immature and Catherine's personna was perplexing, perhaps even annoying with the way she interacted with David. The simplistic style and tone that is usually present in Hemingways other novels is lacking and often leaves the reader confused by the prose. This unfinished work was definitely a departure from Hemingway's other works. I personally think that Hemingway was just playing with the idea of adrogyny and did not mean to have this published.

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