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For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)

by Ernest Hemingway

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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15,917153243 (3.94)491
The story of Robert Jordan, an American fighting, during the Spanish Civil War, with the anti-fascist guerillas in the mountains of Spain.
1940s (7)
Europe (32)

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English (136)  Spanish (6)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  All languages (152)
Showing 1-5 of 136 (next | show all)
I greatly enjoyed my first Hemingway, not least because of my circumstances (on an eight-hour train from Marrakech to Fez). I found Robert Jordan less easy to understand fully than some of the other characters in the story. Hemingway develops each of the characters with a depth and a detail that thrusts the reader within the group’s constantly changing power dynamic and also within each person’s mind, each person’s reactions to the unspoken likelihood that the bridge bombing wouldn’t end well. Without very many directly spoken details from anyone except Robert Jordan, the reader still manages to understand each character’s internal anguish with clues from their outward behavior, especially through their interactions among the other characters. Further clues stem from the gossip – these people sure do talk about each other a lot, and perhaps Hemingway’s point lies in the need for accountability and transparency in times of life-threatening duress. The reader only hears Robert Jordan express all of these thoughts, accusing himself of madness and weakness in the face of a routine job, which he optimistically tries to convince himself will ultimately succeed. His relationship with Maria provides further opportunity for his mind to swirl with thoughts of the future and the questions about how long his future will be. Hemingway’s strange self-censorship ultimately adds an air of lightness to this heavy story. Rather than using the proper English swear words that this rough and tumble crew of guerilla soldiers uses quite often, Hemingway inserts terms like “unprintable” and “milk.” Moreover, the Spanish cursing occasionally appears perfectly normally. This bizarre little trick distracted me, I think, from the story. ( )
  revatait | Feb 21, 2021 |
There is not much action for a war novel but a lot of introspection. The main character, Robert, is always wrestling with his thoughts and feelings. There is also a lot of guessing at each other's intent. The guerillas sit around the table in the cave, watching each other's moves, especially between Robert and Pablo. They are like dancing around each other. Interesting read though the pace can be rather slow. Worth pondering is Robert's view of life. If you know you could die soon, do you still plunge into love? Robert did, because to love fully even if short-lived is better than not to have loved at all. ( )
  siok | Feb 16, 2021 |
I had read this back in high school and my one quibble with it then as the same as now. Too much emphasis on the romance with Maria. I do like Hemingway's focus on a 'moment in time' for telling a story. Hemingway has been accused of not developing characters, particularly women, but I think that with a narrow time window that a story is told in that it's more about character being revealed. While Maria's character seems to be not be revealed, Pilar's character is very rich. I would like to have rated this higher but the use of the word obscenity for an actual expplicative was distractive and annoying. I rewalize that at the time the book was written/published this was the only recourse but it stioll makes for a articificality to the read. And then there is the romance droning on and on... ( )
1 vote feralcatbob | Dec 22, 2020 |
FWTBT is my 4th Hemingway book. I am attracted to shorter, quicker reads so my introduction to this writer was A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises, and Old Man and the Sea. All of which I liked a great deal. This novel, at 471 small typed pages spread out over 43 chapters, was going to be a slog, even if hopefully an enjoyable one. And as I read, and read, and read, and read through this book about an American Spanish language professor (El Ingles) who joins a band of anti-fascist guerrillas fighting for the Republic, I came to realize that despite the setting this was not an action-packed war novel. In fact, the climax of the novel, the mission to blow up a bridge, does not occur until the final chapter. Before that you get to know Robert Jordan and his rebel crew, especially the band's leaders Pablo and his indomitable wife Pilar, Anselmo, his guide, and Marie, a young Republican woman they rescued from harsh treatment by the fascists who over the course of 3 days and 3 nights becomes the love of his life. Over the course of these pages you get to know these characters, and some others, slowly. You learn a little about the war and its politics. You get inside Jordan's head, because he talks to himself, and is torn about many things, and you overhear his thoughts and conflicts. This novel, similar to TSOR, is not plot but rather character driven. And it holds up well as a classic. The rather formal language (thou and thee) is a bit odd to the ear in this age of colloquialism and jargon, and the fact that actual curses are often replaced by the word "obscenity" is weird. Not sure if this is exactly how Hemingway wrote it or if this has something to do with the editing of my late 60s Charles Scribner's Sons edition. But for the most part, the novel translates well and remains a powerful and relevant testament to the ugliness and waste of war but also the beauty and redemptive power of love (sounds cliched, I know, but this is a beautiful love story) and ideals worth fighting for. I can't wait to stream the movie somewhere. ( )
  OccassionalRead | Jul 10, 2020 |
A very interesting book, telling the story of a brigade of fighters in the Spanish civil war. It is also a story of love, fear, betrayal, courage.
Although it was interesting to read how this specific raid was carried out, at times I was bored with it or did I think it was proceeding very slowly as well. Especially the constant naming of Robert Jordan, at times in every sentence.
On the other hand it showed the emotions and the relations within the group which made it better. All in all I liked it as well as the other books I recently read by this author. ( )
1 vote BoekenTrol71 | Jun 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 136 (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 (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hemingway, Ernestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arbonès, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baudisch, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carboni, GuidoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dietsch, J.N.C. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, SinclairIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martone, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
NeelyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pedrolo, Manuel deForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, CampbellNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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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The story of Robert Jordan, an American fighting, during the Spanish Civil War, with the anti-fascist guerillas in the mountains of Spain.

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