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A Farewell To Arms
A Farewell To Arms
Author: Ernest Hemingway
The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway's frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with ...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780684801469
ISBN-10: 0684801469
Publication Date: 6/1/1995
Pages: 332
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 261

3.6 stars, based on 261 ratings
Publisher: Scribner
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Members Wishing: 3
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review
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Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Written in an almost childlike journalistic style, this book gives a glimpse into WWI that Hemingway saw first hand. If you research the themes of the book, it becomes even more meaningful. I'm glad I read it.
reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 173 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Yes, it's a classic. Did I like it? Not so much. Hemingway's writing style to me is much like a person writing in a second language, clunky and without grace. However - I'm glad I read it - it was the first Hemingway that I've read and I will try others.
NiaInNeverland avatar reviewed A Farewell To Arms on
Helpful Score: 3
This book is by far one of my favourite books I've read. Hemingway's way of writing is completely different from what you're probably used to. This book was read by my sophomore class in my high school, and my teacher awarded me this book for my excellent review on it. I recommend this book to anyone who's into a different style of writing, and romance in war times. It's beautifully crafted with a twisted storyline.
reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I appear to be in the minority here, but I really didn't like this book at all. I forced myself to finish it because I did want to know what happened in the end, but it took an effort to get through. His writing style is unusual, I didn't particularly care for it. The characters in the book were all rather flat and lacking in personality, particularly the character of Catherine, his great love. I found myself questioning why he would love her at all, she had no thoughts or feelings of her own, her only desire in life was to be whatever she needed to be in order to please him.
I did find the descriptions of life at the front during World War I interesting. If you are interested in this time period the book is worth reading because it gives a sense of what the daily life of a soldier might have been like. However, if you are looking for a great love story, I wouldn't recommend this book.
katycarey5 avatar reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The story is not much about war actions but how the soldiers in Italy and differents countries cope with the war. it's a story about love, friendship, honor.
Story is told in short sentences with a lot of humor!!
Different but good!
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perryfran avatar reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 931 more book reviews
I have been watching the Ken Burns documentary on Hemingway on PBS for the past few days. Since I had never read A Farewell to Arms, I thought this would be a good time to do so. I've had an unread copy on my shelves for years. I have read a few other books by Hemingway and were kind of mixed about them. I read The Sun Also Rises for a college course and at the time didn't really like it. I probably need to do a reread.

As for A Farewell to Arms, I didn't really enjoy it too much either. Hemingway's prose was very understated with a lot of dialog. The novel is set in Italy and Switzerland during WWI. The narrator is Frederic Henry, an American who goes to Italy as an ambulance operator during the war. He has an affair with Catherine, an English nurse he meets while recovering from wounds suffered during a mortar shelling. This all leads to a rather tragic ending. The novel is based on Hemingway's real experiences when he worked as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in 1918.

I know this novel is often considered a realistic depiction of war and it established Hemingway as a successful writer, but I found it to be somewhat tedious and could not relate very well to the story of Henry's experiences on the Italian front nor his love affair with Catherine. I think there are better novels out there that depict the horrors of war but then again they are not Hemingway. Based on the PBS documentary, I will probably read more of him especially his short stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls but not sure when I will get to them.
terez93 avatar reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 140 more book reviews
Probably Hemingway's best-known novel, it serves as a quintessential example of his style of writing and the themes for which he is most well-known. As per usual, I won't belabor or summarize the plot scene by scene, but, as an overview, this admirable novel is set in mid-stream of the Great War, which indisputably marked a change in human history. It tells the story of Lieutenant Frederic Henry (known as "Tenente," an Italian term for "Lieutenant"), an American ambulance drive serving in the Italian army who falls in love with an American nurse, Catherine, when he is wounded in a mortar attack. Although the two don't seem to hit it off at first (Henry is portrayed as just trying to "get in her pants," actually, so he doesn't have to go down to the local brothel to the girls there, with whom he is bored), Henry admits later that he unwittingly falls in love with her. Their tenuous affair meets with some unexpected consequences for both, and, in keeping with the overall theme of the novel, some things not even love can conquer.

Hemingway is definitely one of those love-him-or-hate-him authors (and there's plenty to dislike: the curt, mundane dialogue; the sexist, one-dimensional portrayal of his female characters, which borders on unrealistic, and, sometimes, ridiculous; the monotonous tone of his prose, which is stripped of almost any description aside from a procession of events; the conversations between soldiers, and even in this case, the love interest, which are strained and lacking in any substance), but this book is endearing, somehow. It was certainly influential, kicking off a post-war literary and artistic movement that shocked (and changed) the world, giving birth to what later generations would rightly describe as the Lost Generation.

As with so many other novels about war that I've read, the central theme seems to be: futility. As Herman Van Rompuy, a former Belgian prime minister stated during a ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, its legacy for future generations is "about how it could start, about the mindless march to the abyss, the sleepwalking to destructionâ above all, about the millions who were killed on all sides, on all fronts." By presenting the events in a colorless, exsanguinated manner devoid of life or emotion, Hemingway describes war as it really is: boring, monotonous, endless, pointless. This style of writing represents an almost-total departure from, and, one could convincingly argue, an outright-rejection of, the florid, overwrought prose of the previous century (this book was first published in 1929). Where Victorian literature seems most concerned with style, Hemingway is concerned with substance, but couched in nuance. Almost in "machine-gun" style, he presents his story as a stream of events, albeit rather colorless ones, like the cold, bloodless, desolate landscape devoid of life at the Front.

The novel could be described as semi-autobiographical in some respects, as much of the content likely mirrors Hemingway's own experiences during the war. His novels are written from the perspective of those "on the ground," and in this case, in the trenches, and in the hospitals: the realistic portrayal of the scenes, like the drunken soldiers in the trenches, to the villagers just trying to survive, to the almost absurd, buffoon-like commanders whose incompetence only contributes to their men's misery, Hemingway tells it like it is, and pulls no punches. There's no glory here, nor victory, either: this wasn't a war which could be won, just survived.

Like so many gung-ho young men who courted the sense of adventure and glory they believed awaited them, he, and by extension, his character Henry, had no inkling of the horrors they would encounter in the first conflagration of the twentieth century, when industrialization changed the nature of conflict forever, and inflicted casualties unseen in human histories, on both combatants and civilian populations. The millions of men mired in the mud in trenches all over Europe carried these experiences for the rest of their lives, in some cases, short and tragic ones, as the wounds inflicted by new and ever-more destructive technologies took their toll. Alcohol is omnipresent, serving as the salve to men's souls, which, in the end, only exacerbates the problems.

If you're expecting an action novel, however, you'll be disappointed. In some respects, it's a complex novel, despite its rather taciturn nature. At its core, it's a love story between the two characters, an aspect of the book which has sparked heated controversy and debate for decades, but it's also much more. The precursor to what I would describe as the "protest" novels of later decades, Hemingway portrays war much differently than nineteenth-century authors, who still adhered to the "drum-and-bugle" style novel that may have described atrocities, but rarely offered an insightful critique of war itself. As it had been for much of human history, war was simply a given.

In the century that followed, however, it became much more evident that in an Industrial Age, war was simply intolerable, for the destruction it wrought, which would reach its zenith with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. For this reason, I would consider it one of the most profound "war novels" of all time: although certainly not fully-fledged, it influenced generations of authors (tragically) to come, who looked to their predecessors for examples on how to articulate their experiences and to share the un-relatable with their readers.
Readnmachine avatar reviewed A Farewell To Arms on + 1281 more book reviews
Just not a Hemingway fan, and this didn't do much to change my opinion. This is "the most romantic" of his novels, but not very. The love story simply felt flat and artificial most of the way through. It's one of those relationships where they're in love because the writer says they're in love. The most compelling section was the part where the hero was trying to get to safety after being cut off during a retreat. Guy stuff, I guess.

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