A Farewell to Arms
"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially."The greatest American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms cemented Ernest Hemingway's reputation as one of the most important novelists of the twentieth century. Drawn largely from Hemingway's own experiences, it is the story of a volunteer ambulance driver wounded on the Italian front, the beautiful British nurse with whom he falls in love, and their journey to find some small sanctuary in a world gone mad with war. By turns beautiful and tragic, tender and harsh and realistic, A Farewell to Arms is one of the supreme literary achievements of our time.
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I'm not going to pretend to know how to review a book or what to be critical about. But I will share my thoughts, which are influenced by an understanding of what Hemingway's philosophy of writing (reportedly) was. Description and dialogue is what you get. I was surprised by how much description of setting there was. The setting of time was often treated by mentioning the season and supporting descriptions that made you feel the seasons were turning and gave a somewhat detached sense toward the lives of the characters. I guess this is Hemingway's personality or his view coming through his work. Perhaps it is linked to his illustration of war. It seems a life is not above scrutiny, is not so big that it can't be understood. Hemingway does indeed write the facts. He reports only what the character sees so that we feel what he experiences. Its like you don't identify with the character, you are the character. This isn't perfect though and though it describes the experience of reading Hemingway (understanding experience through observation of only the facts) one may feel more invested in characters of other novels. Hemingway very rarely goes off and just tells us what his character is thinking. When he does it plays out like a dialogue that seems more like the thoughts of the typical man than the coherent paragraphs of so many other characters. In this way Hemingway is relate-able. In terms of appeal, it is not a crazy twisting ride of a plot. It is a portrait of a time (both the era, but especially war-time in that era). It is enjoyable largely because of the no-nonsense approach to recreating an important time, place, and perspective through elegant presentation of dialogue and crisp description.If you are looking for a fun read or an escape this may not be the time for this book. Otherwise, I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy the concrete and the real, I think it will move you.
This book was a great read. I will say that as of right now this is my favorite book. You are drawn into this war time and feel like you are there as well. The writing like all Hemingway books is very literal and to the point. The characters are developed well and the story flows nicely. The ending was very shocking for me and after I finished the book I thought about it for a few days.