The best American novel to emerge out of World War I, A FAREWELL TO ARMS is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his love for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway's frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto - lines of tired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized - bears comparion to Stendhal's depiction of the retreat from Waterloo....Continua
My first thought about this book is that, while the story is good, I'm not sure why Hemingway is considered one of the greats. I've read a lot of books and many that I liked better than this. Story aside (which takes place during the first world war), I didn't really care for some of the writing. Mostly in the conversations between the two main characters. One example of many:
"You're a grand girl."
"I'll be very glad to be an American and we'll go to America won't we, darling? I want to see Niagara Falls."
"You're a fine girl."
For a couple in love they can't really seem to find anything to talk about, but having said that, probably not a lot of talking was going on!
And again, this type of conversation is the norm. If this was some sort of joke, I didn't get it. The main protagonist, Frederic Henry, was not that likable-
The plot meanders quite a bit, the dialogues between all the characters are dreadful, often amounting to no more than two or three word exchanges. With his fellow soldiers, all Italian, the conversations are just as boring, naturally there is a lot drinking and ribbing and sitting around being bored going on, which is probably what happened anyway. The best writing is the descriptions of what is going on around them all - the fear, the tension, the horror, the dirt, the day to day life. And quite a bit on the futility of war, the pointlessness of it all, and of course the inevitable deaths.
This was probably very much a book of its time - published in 1929 the war had ended only ten years earlier, and it was very well received when first published. So, I can now say I have read a Hemingway, yay, moving on.
One of the best known novels about WWI, I found this book to be very interesting and very well written. I was curious to read this book because I am familiar with many of the locations mentioned in the book and wanted to read about them 100 years in the past. This is a combination war and love story, however the end surprised me...Continua
Non avevo mai letto nulla di Hemingway. Quindi mi sono accostato con tutti i buoni propositi del caso a quello che è considerato uno dei suoi capolavori. Devo purtroppo constatare che ha deluso le mie aspettative: l'ho trovato molto lento, pesante, arrancante. Mai un vero momento di tensione e dialoghi di una pesantezza unica. Non era proprio questo che mi aspettavo da uno dei pilastri della narrativa americana....Continua
Now, after reading to the end, I think I probably fully understand why Bradly Cooper in the movie "Silver Linings Playbook" tossed this novel out of window after finishing reading it. I have kind of fully anticipated a sad ending and therefore I have not been completely devastated by it. The novel was very likely written with this unavoidable outcome in mind (of the author's) from the beginning as this novel was a narrative of a person who reminisced his late lover. It's so sad to the readers. But as I read on, I got the feeling that all the happy and heavenlike life between Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley, especially their time in Switzerland, couldn't be sustained and something bad would have to come at the end. But it's still too much for me to bear towards the end.
In principle, this novel can be just altered a little and we would have a happy ending. But then, would this novel be much less regarded by the readers and literature connoisseurs ? From another perspective, I don't really feel that this novel is such a great American classic and it doesn't really stand out in the hundreds of novels that I have read in the last several years. The readers know what the protagonist was thinking very well and there have been quite a bit of philosophizing about life. The anti-war sentiment has been clear as people in the front in this novel were all tired of the war. But none of these factors are distinctive any more in this day and age. Since the protagonist didn't really fight at the forefront but drove ambulance, there was no real battlefield description and what the novel has offered is the depressive atmosphere among the drivers, doctors and soldiers in the front. While we have been led to think quite a bit about the war, the description of the war is more or less one-sided (anti-war) and I have not been very impressed.
Dashes "--" have been used in quite some places to replace words like "fuck", "shit" etc. This is apparently due to censorship in the early editions but those words could have been put back in versions published in the 21st century !
p.38 (6th line): from my Google (re)search, it seems that "capri bianca" should really be "capri bianco"; (8th line): "coridor" should be "corridor". p.148 (13th line), I think "... emply holster ..." should be "... empty holster ...". p.218 (21st line): "cles My leg ..." misses a period "." after "cles" (of "vehicles")....Continua
"Ero sempre imbarazzato dalle parole sacro, glorioso e sacrificio. Le avevamo udite a volte ritti nella pioggia, quasi fuori dalla portata della voce, in modo che solo le parole urlate giungevano, e le avevamo lette sui proclami e da un pezzo ormai, e non avevo visto niente di sacro, e le cose gloriose non avevano gloria e i sacrifici erano come i macelli. Parole astratte come gloria, onore, coraggio o dedizione erano oscene accanto ai nomi concreti dei villaggi, ai numeri delle strade, ai nomi dei fiumi, ai numeri dei reggimenti e alle date. "...Continua