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The Garden of Eden Paperback – September 6, 1995

4.1 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (September 6, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684804522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684804521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ernest Hemingway ranks as the most famous of twentieth-century American writers; like Mark Twain, Hemingway is one of those rare authors most people know about, whether they have read him or not. The difference is that Twain, with his white suit, ubiquitous cigar, and easy wit, survives in the public imagination as a basically, lovable figure, while the deeply imprinted image of Hemingway as rugged and macho has been much less universally admired, for all his fame. Hemingway has been regarded less as a writer dedicated to his craft than as a man of action who happened to be afflicted with genius. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Time magazine reported the news under Heroes rather than Books and went on to describe the author as "a globe-trotting expert on bullfights, booze, women, wars, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, and courage." Hemingway did in fact address all those subjects in his books, and he acquired his expertise through well-reported acts of participation as well as of observation; by going to all the wars of his time, hunting and fishing for great beasts, marrying four times, occasionally getting into fistfights, drinking too much, and becoming, in the end, a worldwide celebrity recognizable for his signature beard and challenging physical pursuits.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I became a writer largely out of love and admiration for Ernest Hemingway. Old Man and the Sea is his best in my opinion, but this one is my favorite. So much of Hemingway's work is loosely autobiographical, so many protagonists modeled after himself. But in his earlier works, when he gets to the deepest parts of these men, he pulls back, or shies away with emotional distance or some other kind of evasion. There is no such evasion in the Garden of Eden. This book is his most vulnerable, tender and humbling portrait of so many of the central struggles of his life.
It is difficult to separate Hemingway the man from Hemingway the writer and for that matter Hemingway the character in his own writing. He encouraged them to be confused in his own way during his life and was a major contributor to the blossoming of our current culture of celebrity obsession. So it's not invalid in my opinion to read his work as part of the greater story of his life and find meaning in it from that perspective.
In this book, Hemingway finally takes on some of the painful issues of his life. There's a great deal of sexual intrigue in The Garden of Eden, specifically about gender and identity. David and Catherine, the two main characters, do some fascinating and disturbing play with their genders and their relationship with each other as a man and a woman. A lot of people have theorized that one of the contributing factors to Hemingway's suicide had to do with his conflicted sexuality which he hid for most of his life. As a child he was raised as a girl until the age of four or five by his mother who had wanted a daughter. Aside from that, there was a history of cross dressing in his family, which also tragically played out in a subsequent generation with Hemingway's son Gregory AKA Gloria.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Simply-told though filled with dark implications, this lean-but-lyrical gem is as strong as vintage Hemingway. In this posthumously-published novel, Papa explores the many manifestations of desire as it excites, inspires, nurtures & drives us mad--often all at once. Set in the 1920's on the Cote d'Azur, it chronicles the honeymoon of David Bourne, a writer, & his lovely, impulsive wife Catherine. As her strange compulsions take her on a slide toward either freedom or insanity, David struggles to follow her and still practice his chosen craft. Soon after another woman enters their relationship, the struggle becomes one for control of David's art through his love for both Catherine & Marita, the newcomer. This is a love-triangle with three complete sides (as they pair & repair), and how each of these characters chooses to resolve their struggle belies the more prurient aspects of the book: this is less erotica than a story of how the dark & bright sides of desire inform lives, how they empower & weaken us, and how love may not be enough--even 'true' love.
As entertaining as any romance, though much more provocative, this book is a masterpiece (despite the controversy surrounding it).
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Format: Paperback
This is a very strange novel that I found oddly mesmerising. I also have to admit, that because the novel was published posthumously and appears to have been based on Hemmingway's most intimate personal experiences, I felt a little uncomfortable reading it - as if I were a voyeur.

Garden of Eden is about the complex dysfunctional relationship that develops between a young married couple and a second woman, whom they both fall in love with. It is Catherine, the young bride, who manipulates the other two players in this strange romantic triangle. David, presumably Ernest's alter ego in this novel, is portrayed as pathetically passive, unable to stand up to Catherine and her destructive obsessions and jealousies.

The dynamics of this relationship are sophisticated, although much of the dialogue and routines of the threesome seem banal. The Garden of Eden is interesting also; in that it gives the reader some insight into Hemmingway's writing process. David a young writer has published two successful novels and is labouring on a collection of stories about his childhood in Africa. It is David's writing, and the fact that his lover is able to share the experience with him, that Catherine is most jealous of.

Comparisons to The Sun Also Rises are inevitable. Catherine, like Brett in The Sun Also Rises, is the self-destructive heart of Garden of Eden. Both novels feature characters whose lives seem trite and empty, filled with the excess of drink and food. And both novels feature a young writer, struggling to find his literary voice while drawn to a narcissistic beauty.
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