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A Farewell to Arms (1929)

by Ernest Hemingway

Other authors: Ernest Hemingway

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
19,058209166 (3.74)481
An unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his love for an English nurse.
  1. 20
    Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (PilgrimJess)
    PilgrimJess: This account comes from a character whom actually fought and so the events first hand.
  2. 20
    Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (arthurfrayn)
  3. 00
    A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin (AmourFou)
    AmourFou: WWI Italian Front. Also great literature.
  4. 11
    The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War by Ernest Hemingway (kxlly)
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» See also 481 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
The writing style is very strange at times. There's dialogue that's written as a very long paragraph with various people talking but there's no attempt made to format it as you'd normally expect, and it doesn't help that he seems to have a hatred for punctuation while doing this, which really doesn't help either.

And then there's the sentences that last the best part of an entire page, again with little or no punctuation so you end up feeling like listening to someone racing to finish a long monologue all in one breath, and that just makes you feel like you're gasping for breath yourself.

Very strange style of writing which I found difficult to ignore in the end.

Stopped reading about a quarter of the way in I think and am not sure if I'll be able to convince myself to try again. I just don't get that writing style. It's almost as though he's attempting to convince the reader that he doesn't know how to write properly, but looking at a lot of other reviews on here, and elsewhere, that doesn't seem likely. ( )
  SFGale | Mar 23, 2021 |
As I mentioned in some of my previous reviews, I’ve had an unfortunate tendency towards “pop culture bluffing” for a large part of my life. I don’t have the attention span to keep abreast of everything that trends in pop culture, and when it comes to literature, it’s not always that much better.

One of the authors that I’m the most ashamed to have bluffed about reading – until reading – is Ernest Hemingway. The man – for better or worse – is such a titan in 20th century literature, that he is understandably considered by many to be a quintessential part of a proper cultural upbringing – at least in the Western tradition.

So when I came across this compact classic of his on a table with other paperback classics, I decided to go for it. Getting started was no big deal – the book was serialized in Scribner’s Magazine from May-October 1929, so the chapters are compact and quickly read – but then something happens that, upon reflection, happens way too much for me. I brought it along to read on a long public transport trip, and then misplaced it once I got home. This actually frustrated me quite a bit in this case, as I’d reached a very intense part of the story when it happened. After nearly 2 months, I found it at random in a shopping bag.

As for the book itself, it’s intense. Elements of it are supposedly autobiographical – Hemingway served in the Italian campaigns during the Great War – but it’s not fully so. The character gallery is very vivid – you feel like you know these people, or know someone like them at the very least. Hemingway’s descriptions of scenery and settings are so visceral and vivid that you almost feel like you can smell the smoke from exploded ordnance mixed with soaked earth. It’s almost as if you are “there” – with a bit of imagination.

The conclusion of it is a true gutwrencher, although if you are familiar with narrative devices from Western literature of the late 19th and early 20th century, you might be able to see it coming. ( )
  jakadk | Feb 11, 2021 |
It feels a bit weird to be writing this sort of a review for a Hemingway but then again I have never subscribed to the belief that "classics" should be exempt from reader opinion.

Mild spoiler warning.

Anyway..

This book irritated and exasperated me.

Its apparently an anti war novel. I think its supposed to evoke feelings of revulsion or disgust against war. If that was its aim it totally failed. The writing was so bland, so repetitive, the dialogue was so stilted and awkward, I did not connect with any of the characters and frankly didn't really care about them.

This book can thematically be divided into four parts - first when the protagonist is near the front and interacts with his comrades, secondly when he is at a hospital injured, but has a great romance, thirdly when he is back at the front and caught in a retreat, and the fourth part when he escapes the war but things go badly anyway.

The first and second parts are incredibly bland and boring. While general description and narrative are still ok, the absurdist dialogue among soldiers just fell flat. Frankly I think Joseph Heller's Catch 22 did a far better job with this sort of theme. The romance was incredibly awkward and evoked no emotion whatsoever. Everything from action to dialogue just felt like two puppets going through the motions. The protagonists backstory and motivations are not fleshed out very well and this together with the wooden plot progression meant I had zero empathy for him. And I am not even sure if the romance counts as a romance. Is it romance if you get attached to a piece of furniture? Because the female love interest character has no personality that I could find.

The third part is the best part of the book. The retreat, the events, the actions actually felt more poignant and powerful than anything that had come before. This was the only section where I was not indifferent to the fate of the protagonist.

The fourth part went back to bland and boring and then had an incredibly predictable tacked on sad ending which I felt the author included simply because he had decided that this book could not end on a happy note. This is something that really really irritates me, when an author has an agenda and he pushes it artificially into the text so that it just looks and feels arbitrary and absurd. I knew it was coming and I was simply annoyed at the tackiness of the entire thing.

Overall a thoroughly unimpressive book which I would never ever recommend. ( )
  Andorion | Feb 6, 2021 |
As first experiences with an author go, this could've been a lot better. Never felt like it moved me in any way. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
This book sure takes its time to get to full speed. The first two thirds of the book can be very unfocused, indistinguishable characters get pushed in the room, mumble a few words and continue on their way again. I wasn't sure what was going on on numerous occasions. The protagonist's love interest doesn't really strike me as a real person.

The last bit of the book is where Hemingway's sparing prose, which I have enjoyed in the past, really shines like I remember it, whereas before it was quite muddled. I suppose his dry wit is what kept me going and in the end Hemingway could do what he does best: take me away from the war into wintery isolation in Switzerland, caught in the middle yet strangely pacified, make me feel enclosed with the characters in their safe heaven to eventually just break my ribs by pounding me in the chest with a bleak, frosty icicle of an ending. ( )
  superpeer | Feb 1, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
In its sustained, inexorable movement, its throbbing preoccupation with flesh and blood and nerves rather than the fanciful fabrics of intellect, it fulfills the prophecies that his most excited admirers have made about Ernest Hemingway... in its depiction of War, the novel bears comparison with its best predecessors. But it is in the hero's perhaps unethical quitting of the battle line to be with the woman whom he has gotten with child that it achieves its greatest significance.
added by jjlong | editTime (Oct 14, 1929)
 
It is a moving and beautiful book.
 

» Add other authors (86 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hemingway, Ernestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemingway, Ernestsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bleck, CathieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, MalcolmIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ford, Ford MadoxIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hemingway, PatrickForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hemingway, SeánIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Renner, LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuck, MaryCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vranken, KatjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, Robert PennIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To G. A. Pfeiffer
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In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.
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There is a class that controls a country that is stupid and does not realize anything and never can. That is why we have this war.
Also they make money out of it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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An unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his love for an English nurse.

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