The Garden of Eden, unfinished as it is, is one of my favorite novels, and undoubtedly stands proof of Hemingway’s most enduring of traits; he was not only capable of, but also willing to reinvent his writing, always aspiring for a different style.
Much like The Old Man and The Sea, this novel is different from his earlier works. And it shows a different layer, more human, to one of the great “macho” writers in history.
Taking place on the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s, the story is as follows: a young American writer, David Bourne, and his wife, Catherine, are happy and in love, and to some extent, the opening chapters are a clear reflection of the title itself.
I find Catherine, as a character, perfectly endearing. She’s a bit wild and crazy, but also passionate, and in no way, falls under a certain stereotype. The games they play, more or less provoked by Catherine herself, create the tension in this novel, and when they both fall in love with the same woman…
As I said earlier, this isn’t exactly Hemingway’s usual type of story, but in the same way, it’s a writer’s story. It’s a story about a writer writing a story, about all those labyrinthine mechanisms that allow for such a process to take place, and it’s a very good way to get inside Hemingway’s head, to understand more about this strange symbiosis man-writer.
I’m sure, by the way the story progresses and the manner in which the tension builds up, that something tragic would have happened. Or maybe not. The only negative about this novel is that it doesn’t have an end.