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For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics) (original 1940; edition 1996)

by Ernest Hemingway

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Title:For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics)
Authors:Ernest Hemingway
Info:Scribner (1996), Edition: REPRINT, Hardcover, 496 pages
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For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)

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English (92)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
Oh, Hemingway. Is it you or is it me? I don't know why but I can't feel anything above mild acceptance that your novels are okay. Are you just not as good as you're cracked up to be, or do I just not understand your genius? And do I keep reading until I work it out?

Robert Jordan (not just Robert, never Robert, but Robert Jordan) is a Spanish teacher who has become involved in the Spanish Civil War as a dynamiter. He has to blow up a bridge with the help of a band of guerillas living in a cave somewhere in Spain. The world as he knows changes when he falls in love with Maria, who was adopted by the band after they blew up a train.

First off, the dialogue was frustrating to read. With so many thous and thees and thys you would've thought you were reading Shakespearian but actually the translation of Spanish to English translates better that way than to modern English, apparently. The problem is, it doesn't fit with the rest of the narrative. I don't know how else to explain it except it doesn't fit. Just reads wrong. The other thing about the writing style is that while it is written in the third person, the reader spends a lot of time in Robert Jordan's head. Which is not always an exciting place to be as he often argues with himself and goes off on crazy tangents that don't always feel relevant or crucial to the story. It's hard to stay interested.

I struggled to get into the story mainly because it felt like the point, the blowing up of the bridge, was so far away and without it there was so little to keep the plot moving. I also found it hard to connect with the characters - none of them really did anything for me. I wasn't at all moved by this book until the very end. At the end the imagery of Robert Jordan lying on the ground with his leg at an unnatural angle and with his submachine gun pointed at Lieutenant Berrard was just so vivid and so real in the my mind - if the whole novel was more like the last page, my rating would have been very different. ( )
1 vote crashmyparty | Apr 17, 2014 |
I don't like Hemingway, but I found this book fairly enjoyable. Definitely better than 'The Sun Also Rises'. I find that the character of Robert Jordan spends a little too much time in his head -- it gets irritating the back and forth that he has with himself, his fantasies.

I found it interesting that Hemingway chose to situate the American, Jordan, with the communists. It had to be controversial in its time and I wonder how autobiographical it is.

I like the message. Live in today, it's all we have.

I think it's worth the read or in my case, the listen during the commute. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
I've read this before in excerpts but never the entire novel.

About this edition, this is an audiobook read in a matter-of-fact, almost Bogart-esque style, which fits the era perfectly. It's wry and heartbreaking and rubs like sand in an open wound. Perfect for a gruesome war story.

About the style.
Some people have issues with Hemingway's style. I like him except when he gets too excessively Gertrude Steinian, which he does in two sections of this book -- but it seems intended, to me, as they go along with the protagonist losing his self-control to a resurgence of carefully repressed feeling. The lack of contractions and the strange diction match what Spanish sounds like in translation, and the novel is taking place mostly en español, so it fits. If you live in an area with a lot of Spanish-speakers, it's easier to tell. The rhythm of speech is the same. Not all of the Spanish is translated, incidentally. There's a lot of fabulously vulgar slang that slipped through the censors. *g*

Hemingway writes some gorgeous sentences, let me tell you.

What I missed from the excerpts I had read before was Hemingway's/the narrator's profound sense of disillusionment concerning the Spanish Civil War. It was a travesty and rightfully deserves to be called the *real* second world war, what with the Germans and Italians arming and aiding Franco and Britain, France, and the US standing by watching civilians be massacred and mutilated without lifting a hand. It's a horrible time in history. And no one teaches it now. It's fallen out of the world history curricula because it's too awful. Or because the US and its allies failed to step up. (And if FDR had, would the Nazi war have started early? I imagine someone's written a book on that.)

I've seen criticism of this novel as "sexist" somewhere, but I don't understand where they're coming from unless it's an anachronistic application of the word. To me it seemed the opposite of sexist. A woman is a guerrilla leader. A teenage girl is a survivor of multiple rape and regains her emotional health and sexual identity after her trauma through the nurturing of the female guerrilla leader. I see a celebration of female power in that. The division of labor is what it is (the teenage girl is hardly strong enough to handle a giant old fashioned machine gun), and everyone in the sorry little band of rebels is equally in the shit together.

Which is the main point of the book for me. There was no glory in the war against Franco. It was an obscenity, a crime against humanity, and the international community was as responsible for meddling in the lives of illiterate paisanos as the first wave of idealistic intelligentsia and Communist idealogues.

What a horrific, traumatizing, nation-crippling thing.


Note: this gets a glbt_interest tag because of "maricón" being one of the most serious insults one can call a man (at the time), and also because of the scene where the guerrilla asks the American why he has to get together with the girl instead of finding a buddy to take his pleasure with as the rest of the men do. "Why not go with one of us?" he says (paraphrasing), and it could be taken as a proposition, but Jordan answers that he's in love with the girl and plans to marry her, and totally sidesteps the matter. :)
( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
I have never been a fan of Hemingway and the pages of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" have a good collection of the reasons why I never find his work enjoyable.

The story is set during the Spanish Civil War, which should result in an exciting tale. Instead, there are hundreds of pages of characters repeatedly having the same conversations, musing about their oncoming deaths. Add in Hemingway's bizarre choices (such as using thee and thou and writing "unprintable" for obscenities) this book just felt stilted.

There probably is an interesting novella in there somewhere... the last 75 pages or so the plot actually moves forward. Overall, the book just seemed like a lost opportunity to me. ( )
  amerynth | Jan 6, 2014 |
Er was eens een tijd dat jonge mannen uit de hele wereld naar Spanje trokken om te vechten in de [Spaanse burgeroorlog][3]. Ze wilden de democratie en de republiek verdedigen (er waren vele andere redenen) en Spanje helpen om de Nationalisten onder leiding van generaal Franco te stoppen. Ze waren georganiseerd in de linkse [International Brigades][4]. De "Manic Street Preachers" hebben er nog eens een mooi nummer over gemaakt onder de titel [If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next][2]. De tijden zijn veranderd, weinig zaken zijn nog de moeite waard om voor te sterven en iemand die in Syrië gaat vechten wordt beschouwd als een gevaarlijke gek. Alle 628 Nederlanders die meevochten in de International Brigades verloren overigens destijds hun staatsburgerschap omdat ze in _vreemde krijgsdienst_ waren gegaan. Zoals bekend heeft het allemaal niet geholpen: De Nationalisten wonnen de strijd (met hulp van Italië) en de daarop volgende dictatuur van Franco duurde 36 lange jaren.

Hemingway's verhaal is vrij simpel en speelt zich af in ruim drie dagen. Een jonge Amerikaan, _Robert Jordan_, krijgt de opdracht om achter de vijandelijke linies een brug op te blazen. Hij neemt contact op met een lokale guerrilla groep onder leiding van "Pablo". De groep heeft zich ontfermd over een 19-jarig meisje, Maria. Bij een overval op haar dorp zijn haar ouders doodgeschoten en is zij verkracht door Falangisten. Robert Jordan wordt verliefd op Maria en dat plaatst zijn moeilijke opdracht in een ander licht. De groep van Pablo kan het niet alléén af en zoekt hulp bij de bevriende groep van El Sordo. Pablo ziet de noodzaak van de actie niet in en probeert het werk van Robert Jordan te saboteren omdat hij zijn groep niet onnodig in gevaar wil brengen. Ondanks het verraad van Pablo en de vernietiging van de groep van El Sordo door een bombardement slaagt Robert Jordan in zijn opzet en blaast hij de brug op. Bij de terugtocht wordt zijn paard geraakt en breekt hij zijn been als hij onder het paard terechtkomt. Hij neemt afscheid van Maria en op zijn verzoek laat de groep hem achter.

_For Whom the Bell Tolls_ is één van de mooiste boeken van Ernest Hemingway. Hij kreeg er bíjna de Pulitzer Price voor in 1941. Het boek is gebaseerd op de persoonlijk ervaringen van Hemingway gedurende zijn verblijf in Spanje tijdens de burgeroorlog.

Hoewel het plot niet spectaculair is weet Hemingway er een geweldig spannend verhaal van te maken. Hij doet dat door knap met emoties te spelen. De "harde" Robert Jordan contrasteert hij prachtig met de "softe" Pablo. Totdat blijkt Robert Jordan verliefd raakt op Maria en hij zijn eigen keiharde houding in een ander licht gaat zien. Hij merkt dat Pablo tot voor kort gewerkt heeft als een keiharde guerrillastrijder die zonder wroeging honderden onschuldige burgers (veronderstelde fascisten) liet vermoorden. Door de liefde van Pablo voor Pilar, ook lid van de verzetsgroep is hij zich anders gaan gedragen en wil geen onnodige risico's meer lopen. De strijd die beide hoofdpersonen met elkaar en met hun geweten voeren maakt het verhaal indringend en uitzonderlijk.

Taal speelt een grote rol. _Robert Jordan_ was in de VS leraar Spaans en hij kent de Spaanse taal goed. Maar het dialect in de streek is voor hem vreemd. Hemingway geeft dat prachtig weer door een archaïsch taalgebruik ("Thou shalt"). Verder vertaalt hij veel Spaanse uitdrukkingen letterlijk in het Engels waardoor het Engels in meerdere opzichten niet meer klopt en ook dat draagt bij aan het vervreemdende effect van de taalbarrière. Enige kennis van het Spaans helpt om sommige passages goed te kunnen begrijpen. Het is een burgeroorlog waarin Spanjaarden vechten tegen Spanjaarden maar ze worden geholpen door heel veel andere nationaliteiten. Hemingway mengt daarom Franse, Duitse, Russische, Italiaanse en soms zelfs Nederlandse uitdrukkingen door zijn verhaal.

Hemingway benadrukt de verschrikkingen en gruwelijkheden van de burgeroorlog waar Spanjaarden tegen hun volksgenoten vochten. Hij weet fraai weer te geven dat "fascisten" niet altijd de slechten zijn en de republikeinen ook niet altijd de goeden. Verschillende scènes zijn huiveringwekkend realistisch beschreven, zoals die in het dorpje waar Pablo alle fascisten laat uitmoorden en ze door een meute in een afgrond laat werpen (werkelijk gebeurd) maar andere scènes laten je weer voluit lachen bijvoorbeeld die waarin een afgezant van de verzetsstrijders wordt aangehouden door republikeinse soldaten. De kneuterigheid van die situatie is komisch.
( )
  JaapNoordzij | Nov 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
". . . a tremendous piece of work. . . . Mr. Hemingway has always been the writer, but he has never been the master that he is in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' . . . his finest novel."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Ralph Thompson (Oct 21, 1940)
 
The greatness of this book is the greatness of these people's triumph over their foreknowledge of death-to-come... For Whom the Bell Tolls, unlike other novels of the Spanish Civil War, is told not in terms of the heroics and dubious politics of the International Brigades, but as a simple human struggle of the Spanish people. The bell in this book tolls for all mankind.
added by jjlong | editTime (Oct 21, 1940)
 

» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ernest Hemingwayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baudisch, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dietsch, J.N.C. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, SinclairIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, CampbellNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

Four Novels {Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Old Man ..., Sun Also Rises} by Ernest Hemingway

ROMANZI by Ernest Hemingway

The Novels Of Ernest Hemingway . by Ernest Hemingway

Five Novels: The Sun Also Rises / A Farewell to Arms / To Have and Have Not / The Old Man and the Sea / For Whom the Bell Tolls (FOLIO SOCIETY) by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls / The Snows of Kilimanjaro / Fiesta / The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber / Across the River and into the Trees / The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Book-of-the-Month-Club Set of 5: A Farewell to Arms, A Moveable Feast, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, & The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (The Finca Vigia Edition) (Book-of-the-Month Club) by Ernest Hemingway

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Epigraph
No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod be washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesser, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never tend to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. -John Dunne
Dedication
This book is for Martha Gellhorn
First words
He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees.
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Your nationality and your politics did not show when you were dead.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684803356, Paperback)

For Whom the Bell Tolls begins and ends in a pine-scented forest, somewhere in Spain. The year is 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is in full swing. Robert Jordan, a demolitions expert attached to the International Brigades, lies "flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees." The sylvan setting, however, is at sharp odds with the reason Jordan is there: he has come to blow up a bridge on behalf of the antifascist guerrilla forces. He hopes he'll be able to rely on their local leader, Pablo, to help carry out the mission, but upon meeting him, Jordan has his doubts: "I don't like that sadness, he thought. That sadness is bad. That's the sadness they get before they quit or before they betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out." For Pablo, it seems, has had enough of the war. He has amassed for himself a small herd of horses and wants only to stay quietly in the hills and attract as little attention as possible. Jordan's arrival--and his mission--have seriously alarmed him.
"I am tired of being hunted. Here we are all right. Now if you blow a bridge here, we will be hunted. If they know we are here and hunt for us with planes, they will find us. If they send Moors to hunt us out, they will find us and we must go. I am tired of all this. You hear?" He turned to Robert Jordan. "What right have you, a foreigner, to come to me and tell me what I must do?"
In one short chapter Hemingway lays out the blueprint for what is to come: Jordan's sense of duty versus Pablo's dangerous self-interest and weariness with the war. Complicating matters even more are two members of the guerrilla leader's small band: his "woman" Pilar, and Maria, a young woman whom Pablo rescued from a Republican prison train. Unlike her man, Pilar is still fiercely devoted to the cause and as Pablo's loyalty wanes, she becomes the moral center of the group. Soon Jordan finds himself caught between the two, even as his own resolve is tested by his growing feelings for Maria.

For Whom the Bell Tolls combines two of the author's recurring obsessions: war and personal honor. The pivotal battle scene involving El Sordo's last stand is a showcase for Hemingway's narrative powers, but the quieter, ongoing conflict within Robert Jordan as he struggles to fulfill his mission perhaps at the cost of his own life is a testament to his creator's psychological acuity. By turns brutal and compassionate, it is arguably Hemingway's most mature work and one of the best war novels of the 20th century. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:12 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight," For Whom the Bell Tolls. The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan's love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo's last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise. "If the function of a writer is to reveal reality," Maxwell Perkins wrote Hemingway after reading the manuscript, "no one ever so completely performed it." Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author's previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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