Review by Choice Review
This long-awaited, posthumously published novel by Ernest Hemingway was written intermittently between 1946 and the author's death in 1961. The massive, unfinished manuscript was considered unpublishable for many years; but in this heavily and judiciously cut version, it is highly readable, and ultimately quite engaging. Based loosely on certain autobiographical aspects of Hemingway's young manhood and his first two marriages, the book is quite outspoken for its time, regarding androgyny and lesbianism. If one ignores the frequent detailed descriptions of meals and drinks, the Hemingway self-parody fades into the background of a compelling story of a menage a trois, comprising the young, Hemingwayesque writer David Bourne, his wife, and their mutual mistress. Though tiresome and frustrating at times, the novel frequently shows flashes of the great writer's best work. It will be required reading for scholars and serious students of Hemingway, and it will be interesting to any general reader. It is nice to read Hemingway again and not know what is going to happen next. Recommended for university, college, community college, and public libraries.-B.H. Leeds, Central Connecticut State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Said to be the last of the major posthumous novels, The Garden of Eden was begun in 1946, worked on sporadically over the years, and left voluminous but incomplete when its author died in 1961. Edited now for publication (it has been cut to a third of its original length), the book reveals itself, for all the torment we know to have lain in the life beneath, to be slight, stiffly unevocative, and painfully mannered. Young writer David Bourne and his wife of three weeks, Catherine Hill (both are Americans, and Catherine is rich) are vacationing in the south of France as they wait for reviews of David's second book (the reviews are good; the book will make money). Trouble begins, though, when Catherine gets her hair cropped and wants to be a boy, especially in bed (""____________________________________?"" she says to Bourne). He does mind, but rather inexplicably does nothing about it. As Catherine becomes even more risk-taking and unstable, she creates a mÉnagÉ à trois by introducing into the leisured household the beautiful Marita, who has, all too conveniently for narrative purposes, fallen in love at first sight with David. The three try to pretend that life is intact as an intricate sexual sharing goes on, but Catherine, in a Zelda-like way, becomes increasingly vindictive and hostile, especially toward David and his ""work,"" and ends up one day burning the stories (about his father) that he has lately been writing and that he considers the best work he has done. At book's end, Catherine takes the train to Paris to see her lawyers, David and Marita remain behind with their own ""marriage,"" and David embarks on a rewriting of the burned stories (""_________________________________________,"" says David. Marita answers: ""_____ . . . _________________________________________________________""). The part of the novel most fully realized is the tale-within-a-tale, the short story David writes about being, as a boy, with his father on an elephant hunt in Africa. Closer to the present, little is more than superficial, a hyper-atrophied recital of wines, place names, meals, sleepings, swims in the sea, and drinks at the bar, along with repeated remarks about the outward look of things (""_____________________________________________________________________________""), as well as dialogue in the familiar, self-conscious, and excessively stylized late mode that unsatisfactorily takes the place both of characterization and depth: "" '______________________________________________________________________________________. ______________', she said."" Here are symbols and psychosexual innuendos aplenty to keep the gossiping commentators busy. But the vehicle that conveys them is a novel strained, self. parodic, unfinished, sadly dull, and unable to penetrate to the substance beneath its own paralyzingly mannered surface. All in all, it seems less homage than a busy voyeurism to rake these last feeble ashes out of the real greatness that once was. (Editor's Note: Because the publisher has prohibited the use of any quoted material from the Hemingway text before May 20th, we print our review in the somewhat unusual form that you see it here.) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.