Earlier, Hemingway had learned another lesson about loss. He was at Lausanne, and Hadley visited him from Paris. As a surprise, she brought down his manuscripts so he could "work on them on our holiday in the mountains. She had put in [her suitcase] the originals, the typescripts and the carbons, all in manila folders." (37) She left the suitcase in her train compartment at the Gare de Lyon, asking the porter to keep an eye on it. When she returned, the suitcase had been stolen, and one of the great literary mysteries of all time was born. Scholars still dream of finding the suitcase, and the episode has inspired several contemporary novels from detective stories to science fiction. (38)
So Hemingway started over with his stories. But "there is most certainly no demand for them." (39) So "I knew I must write a novel. But it seemed an impossible thing to do when I had been trying with great difficulty to write paragraphs that would be the distillation of what made a novel. It was necessary to write longer stories now as you would train for a longer race. When I had written a novel before, the one that had been lost in the bag stolen at the Gare de Lyon, I still had the lyric facility of boyhood that was as perishable and deceptive as youth was. I knew it was probably a good thing that it was lost, but I knew too that I must write a novel. I would put it off though until I could not help doing it. I was damned if I would write one because it was what I should do if we were to eat regularly. When I had to write it, then it would be the only thing to do and there would be no choice. Let the pressure build. In the meantime I would write a long story about whatever I knew best. . . . What did I know best that I had not written about and lost? What did I know about truly and care for the most?" It was back to his youth and Michigan and the war. "When I stopped writing I did not want to leave the river where I could see the trout in the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. The story was about coming back from the war but there was no mention of the war in it." (40) The story was "The Big Two-Hearted River," which still has meaning for anyone who has been wounded and returns to a familiar place to heal. In it Nick Adams (or is it Hemingway?) comes home from the war and sets off alone on a fishing trip along the Big Two-Hearted River. In the manuscript, Nick thinks about his life in Paris and his friend Ezra Pound: "Bill Bird's dentist in Paris said in fly fishing you pit your intelligence against that of the trout. That's the way I'd always thought of it Ezra said. That was good for a laugh. . . . Ezra thought fishing was a joke." (41) Hemingway cut all the Paris conversation, and only the fishing trip narrative remains.
The novel was The Sun Also Rises. Dedicating it to Hadley and Bumby, Hemingway prefaced it with Gertrude Stein's appropriate comment on the expatriates in Paris, "You are all a lost generation." (42) Drawing on his trips to the bullfights in Pamplona, fishing in Spain, and the expatriate life in Paris, Hemingway wrote about Jake Barnes--like Hemingway wounded in World War I and Brett Ashley--the aristocrat woman he loves. The characters meander through Europe playing, drinking, loving, and seemingly never working, even Jake, who makes his living as a newspaperman. Their workfree lifestyle seems especially alien to present-day "overworked" Americans, but, as Patrick Hemingway, Hemingway's second son, pointed out, this was the twenties, and the thing to do was to not have to work, or if you did have to work, make it look easy, even if it was hard. In the nineties, the opposite is in vogue. (43)
Unlike his fictional portrayal of Jake, Hemingway worked very hard on his writing, and he did not mind saying so. "I did the most difficult job of rewriting I have ever done [in Schruns] in the winter of 1925 and 1926, when I had to take the first draft of The Sun Also Rises which I had written in one sprint of six weeks, and make it into a novel." (44) Hemingway learned how to write a novel by writing one. Early drafts are very undisciplined, ramble all over the place, and include four separate false starts ranging from 1 to 120 pages long. (45)