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For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls (original 1940; edition 1995)

by Ernest Hemingway

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Title:For Whom the Bell Tolls
Authors:Ernest Hemingway
Info:Scribner (1995), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library

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For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)


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English (103)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (115)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Took me a little while to get ready to write this review, I didn't want to rush it. Per my routine, I won't restate the synopsis, I leave that to much better reviewers. First, it is probably the best audio production I have listened to, and even though I don't properly mark the editions on my bookshelves, easily 50% of my reading is done in my car on cd. I am definitely a Hemingway fan, but for some reason I am not interested in reading The Old Man and the Sea, though my husband did. The following are observations, not criticisms.

Not once will you question how the book will end. Anything that starts with a quotation of John Donne's poem by the same name is putting it out there from the start. It is tragic and romantic in the biggest sense. Sidebar: I wish now I had the print edition because looking up the poem, it seems somehow not the same. Different versions or just a crappy memory?

The pace is very slow. A significant amount of time is spent in the innner thoughts of Robert Jordan. I often felt as though the book was set further back in time than I knew it to be because of how the guerilla fighters lived in caves, and the patterns of their speech. The way they spoke and behaved was I can only culturally significant, and the prominence might bother some. I enjoyed the liberal use of Spanish language.

To me, war was presented on two levels, the impersonal mechanics of war, planning an attack, the necessary destruction of a bridge, etc., and then the so very personal, in the account of the slaughter shared by Pilar.

It was interesting to hear the accumulation of mistakes, or betrayals in some cases build up to ultimately ultimately drive the final outcome. All of the characters are flawed, and nothing is hidden. I admire actually the restraint that Hemingway showed in not making the end overly maudlin, it seemed more real that way. It would have been much more like a made-for-TV movie to draw it out an further.

That's it I think - would love to discuss further if anyone is interested :~).

( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Ok - but certainly not at the top of my Hemingway list. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
For Whom the Bell Tolls was the first novel I’ve read by Hemingway. Before that I’ve only read short-stories from him. I have to say that I didn’t like much the short-stories, they wore too much descriptive for me and this novel continues with that way of writing. So when I started to read this book I was expecting something in the same tone and waiting for the same sense of boredom that the short-stories gave me.

I was completely mistaken, although the book isn’t written in my favourite style, it is one hell of a book. The way Hemingway is able to place the reader in the Spanish mountains, the way he makes us understand the Spanish Civil War, by telling us the story of one attack, of one “guerilla” group, is simply amazing. I have to say, that I was expecting an even bigger disappointment because one of the worst books I’ve ever read was exactly about the Spanish Civil War and also written with the action taking place on the side fighting for the republic (Killing a Mouse on Sunday – Emeric Pressburger) but I was expecting the wrong thing.

Hemingway is able to tell us about the love of a group for a cause, a cause that units them and allows them to fight and die for it. He is able to tell us one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read, between Robert Jordan, the main character and Maria, a lost soul of the war. He is able to tell us about Pablo that is weak in mind but strong in heart, he’s able to tell us about so many people, all of them different, all of them fighting for different reasons, but all united and willing to die for the idea of freedom... even if that idea takes different shapes inside everyone’s head.

They are all fighting to be free... as should we all.

In the overall this book was a very positive surprise and I’m looking forward to read more of Hemingway’s work. ( )
  csegura | Jan 18, 2016 |
Book on CD performed by Campbell Scott.

Robert Jordan is a young American who has joined the International Brigades in support of antifascist guerillas in the mountains of Spain. His orders are to blow up a bridge behind enemy lines in order to facilitate a larger attack, and his only troops will be the loosely organized bands of gypsies and peasants who are hiding in the caves and shelters of the area. The events over the three days from his arrival at the camp to the attack force Robert Jordan to question his own role in this futile war as he learns more about the partisans and the ways they have been changed by the conflict.

I like Hemingway’s style of writing; his short declarative sentences tell the story in a way that puts the reader right in the action. However, he seemed to get lost in this book several times. I think he was responding to critics of his style and trying too hard to expound on certain issues. There are long monologues and internal “dialogues” that do little to advance the story, and sometimes completely bog it down. And the love scenes between Maria and Robert are awkward (even though the earth moved). There was no romantic or sexual tension leading up to their union. They seem to fall instantly in love and the reader sees little reason for this other than mutual availability.

However, the battle scenes – especially when Sordo defends his hilltop position and the final scenes at the bridge – are exceptionally well done, realistic without being excessively gory. I particularly liked the way he revealed strategies and maneuvers, and that he showed the human frailties of combatants on both sides of the war. On the whole I enjoyed it and can see why it is considered a classic. While there are some problems with the book, when it’s good, it’s very good. The ending is brilliant.

Campbell Scott did a fine job of the audio version. He has good pacing, sufficient skill with various voices to differentiate the characters, and good Spanish pronunciation. Hemingway wrote the novel using a very formal and somewhat stilted style of dialogue. The use of “thee” “thou,” and “thy” bothers many readers, but listening to Scott made it clear for me that Hemingway was trying to capture a sense of the formality of the Catalan language. I’ve also read criticism of the censorship because typical expletives are replaced with words such as “obscenity” or “unprintable.” (e.g. “Go and obscenity thyself.”) Hemingway actually wrote the book this way, and the reader’s imagination can easily fill in the unprintable blanks.

( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Set in the pine forest of the Spanish Sierras during the Spanish Civil War, For Whom The Bell Tolls is Ernest Hemingway’s story of a group of freedom fighter’s plans to blow up a bridge. Robert Jordan , an American who is fighting for the cause, has come to them with the dynamite and the idea which is to coordinate the blowing of the bridge with an all out attack by the Republicans. Here in the mountains Jordan finds not only others who agree to work with him, but the love of his life in Maria, a young Spanish girl who has been through many horrors already, as she states simply, “Things were done to me.”.

I can see where Hemingway got the reputation of being a writer who writes first and foremost for other men. There are many examples of his feelings on manly issues in For Whom The Bell Tolls as characters discuss how they feel about killing, whether or not they would be brave in battle, or whether following military orders blindly is the correct thing to do. But I also find his writing layered and emotive even though he is quite spare with his words. I found there was some adjusting to do in the reading of this book, the conversational language seemed stilted and it felt much like a translation, but as they were speaking Spanish, perhaps this was the writers intention. I couldn’t buy into the love story between Maria and Robert Jordan as it seemed a little forced, she appeared to put her total trust in him immediately upon meeting him and then after one night together, she was practically worshipping the ground he walked on. I felt, if the book had a weakness it was in the character of Maria, who I had a lot of difficulty with. Pilar, on the other hand was amazing. Strong, earthy, motherly yet totally vengeful and fierce. Robert Jordan, the damaged and disillusioned young American is, I believe, the embodiment of Hemingway, himself.

I have always enjoyed Hemingway’s writing so perhaps it is no surprise that I loved this book that so vividly and realistically brings to life Robert Jordan’s struggle for political idealism versus the cruel reality of war over the course of three days. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Sep 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Hemingway the artist is with us again; and it is like having an old friend back. That he should thus go back to his art, after a period of artistic demoralization, and give it a larger scope, that, in an era of general perplexity and panic, he should dramatize the events of the immediate past in terms, not of partisan journalism, but of the common human instincts that make men both fraternal and combative, is a reassuring evidence of the soundness of our intellectual life.
added by danielx | editNew Republic, Edmund Wilson (Jan 23, 2015)
". . . 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
NeelyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, CampbellNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

Four Novels: A Farewell to Arms / For Whom The Bell Tolls / The Old Man and the Sea / The 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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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
This book is for Martha Gellhorn
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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.
Your nationality and your politics did not show when you were dead.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:49 -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)

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