Expatriate Lifestyle as Tourist Destination: The Sun Also Rises and Experiential Travelogues of the Twenties

By Field, Allyson Nadia | The Hemingway Review, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Expatriate Lifestyle as Tourist Destination: The Sun Also Rises and Experiential Travelogues of the Twenties


Field, Allyson Nadia, The Hemingway Review


In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway depicts the fictional movements of his characters as experiential travelogue, making the expatriate artist lifestyle a tourist experience. While not explicitly a guidebook, the novel belongs to the tradition of period travelogues such as Pages from the Book of Paris, Paris with the Lid Lifted, How to be Happy in Paris (without being ruined), and Paris on Parade. Such books served as guides to a lifestyle, rather than to monuments or museums. Jake Barnes's emphasis on his environment and recurrent references to the streets, bars, and cafes frequented by his expatriate companions place The Sun Also Rises within a body of travel literature describing the infamous expatriate lifestyle.

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Ernest cared far less than I about aesthetics. What he cared about was the action and the emotional body of the traveler. He was a born traveler as he was a born novelist.

--Janet Flanner

What was the value of travel if it were not this--to discover all romance is not bound between the covers of novels?

--Robert F. Wilson, Paris on Parade

WHEN THE SUN ALSO RISES was published in 1926, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously dubbed Ernest Hemingway's novel "a romance and a guidebook" (Aldridge 123). The novel was celebrated as a roman a clef that depicted an actual segment of Parisian expatriate society. By the time Hemingway began The Sun Also Rises, he was already a fixture in the Parisian expatriate literary community, and had garnered mention in Robert Forrest Wilson's 1924 guidebook Paris on Parade. Hemingway was reputedly disdainful

of tourists, yet the novel's repetition of place names is organized into itineraries similar to those of travel guides contemporaneous to the novel. While not explicitly a guidebook, The Sun Also Rises can be considered as part of the tradition of travelogues such as Pages from the Book of Paris, Paris with the Lid Lifted, How to be Happy in Paris (without being ruined), and Paris on Parade that offer experiential guides to a lifestyle, rather than to monuments or museums. With lake Barnes's emphasis on his environment and recurrent references to the streets, bars, and cafes frequented by his expatriate companions, Hemingway contributes to a body of travel literature describing the places that constitute the geography of the infamous expatriate lifestyle. While A Moveable Feast presents a Paris of memory and nostalgia for Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises is a fictionalized depiction of the Left Bank that should be read against the contemporaneous travelogues promoting the quartier as a stylish destination; the expatriate artist lifestyle becomes a tourist experience as Hemingway depicts the fictional movements in The Sun Also Rises as experiential travelogue. (1)

In Search of Experience: "Gay Paree" Travelogues of the Twenties

In Paris on Parade, published in 1924, Robert Forrest Wilson presents a guidebook to Paris in the form of an expose uncovering the lifestyle of the Americans who constitute a significant presence in the city: "only ten thousand of us; but, my, what a noise we make! How important we are to Paris!" (274). (2) Wilson is not interested in promoting an authentic French experience. Instead, he guides his reader through the "American village" of the Latin Quarter and Montparnasse on Paris's Left Bank. He writes, "Gay Paree, indeed, can scarcely be regarded as a French institution at all. It is a polyglot thing existing upon French tolerance, the gaiety being contributed largely by the guests" (Wilson 279). The legend of "Gay Paree"--drinking, dancing, and other behavior unencumbered by puritan values lured tourists who were more enamored with the lifestyle on display than with the monuments speckling the city.

Wilson devotes a chapter to the newly extended Latin Quarter (reaching, to Montparnasse), an area "that has emerged from the war, a Parisian district which (so far as its American citizenry is concerned) has for its focus, community center, club and town-hall the Cafe du Dome" (194). …

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