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A Farewell To Arms
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Manufacturer: Scribner
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 813.52
EAN: 9780684801469
ISBN: 0684801469
Label: Scribner
Manufacturer: Scribner
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 336
Publication Date: 1995-06-01
Publisher: Scribner
Studio: Scribner

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Editorial Reviews:

As a youth of 18, Ernest Hemingway was eager to fight in the Great War. Poor vision kept him out of the army, so he joined the ambulance corps instead and was sent to France. Then he transferred to Italy where he became the first American wounded in that country during World War I. Hemingway came out of the European battlefields with a medal for valor and a wealth of experience that he would, 10 years later, spin into literary gold with A Farewell to Arms. This is the story of Lieutenant Henry, an American, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. The two meet in Italy, and almost immediately Hemingway sets up the central tension of the novel: the tenuous nature of love in a time of war. During their first encounter, Catherine tells Henry about her fiancé of eight years who had been killed the year before in the Somme. Explaining why she hadn't married him, she says she was afraid marriage would be bad for him, then admits:
I wanted to do something for him. You see, I didn't care about the other thing and he could have had it all. He could have had anything he wanted if I would have known. I would have married him or anything. I know all about it now. But then he wanted to go to war and I didn't know.
The two begin an affair, with Henry quite convinced that he "did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards." Soon enough, however, the game turns serious for both of them and ultimately Henry ends up deserting to be with Catherine.

Hemingway was not known for either unbridled optimism or happy endings, and A Farewell to Arms, like his other novels (For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, and To Have and Have Not), offers neither. What it does provide is an unblinking portrayal of men and women behaving with grace under pressure, both physical and psychological, and somehow finding the courage to go on in the face of certain loss. --Alix Wilber


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: Why is this a classic?
Comment: I enjoy "the classics" and have read most of Hemingways works. This isn't up to par of the others and I would skip it. I had to force myself to read it.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Fantastic!
Comment: Having recently read this book for the first time, I can confirm that there's a reason that it's considered one of the very best war novels. It's a brilliant history on love and war, with fantastic pictorial descriptions and some of the best realized characters I have ever seen in print. Other reviewers have pointed out how hard it is to find a page in this book that's not perfect. I have to agree.

The narrator of the story is the lieutenant ("Tenente") Frederic Henry, a volunteer ambulance driver from the United States. As many other Hemingway male heroic characters he shares a love for life, traveling, drinking and woman. He eventually falls in love with the the lovely Catherine Barkley, and the story follows their attempt to find comfort in each other in a crazy war.

This story with it's perfect plot, it's beautiful writing and incredible characters will stay with you years later. You see the line of soldiers retreating through the night, the frightened peasant girls and the grand Milan nights filled with laughter and love. In short a excellent portrayal of love, humanity and war and one I will surely read again.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Human Tragedy in the Great War
Comment: This, one of Hemingway's first, is said to be the best American novel to emerge from World War I. Against the backdrop of a war-torn Italy and soldiers on the front-line tired of fighting, Hemingway presents a love story between Lieutenant Henry, an ambulance driver, and Catherine Barkley, an English nurse. What amazes me the most is the way Hemingway's short prose manages to convey so much pain and anguish. The characters' disdain for the war really does bleed through everything. And the prose never shifts its pace or diction - Hemingway uses the same short, descriptive sentences to describe a scene and to describe the death of a character.

I'm not sure I can see many weaknesses in this novel except one thing - the sheer annoyingness of Catherine. There were so many instances when I wanted to slap her for her constant repetitiveness. I would argue there are few heroines who come across as irritating on the page. And yet, regardless of this, you ultimately root for the two characters as they retreat from the on-coming German army and then flee into Switzerland.

I only wish more writers today were writing stories as wonderful (and ultimately tragic) as this one.

Some great quotes:

"You're my religion. You've all I've got."

"We never get anything. We are born with all we have and we never learn. We never get anything new. We all start complete."

"No, that is the great fallacy; the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful."


Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: The Right to Bear Arms: Against Hemingway.
Comment: It is no wonder that the generation at large still appreciates this pretentious novel written by, for lack of a better word, a drunk. The value of this book only serves to reflect the failings of our American society at large, both then and today: that in every relationship from the microcosm of Henry and Catherine's relationship (based on greed, lust, gluttony, envy, pride, wrath and sloth) to the macrocosm of American's foreign policies, there is no limit to the word `classic' anymore, as surely as propaganda has forced this book upon us to accept as superior. It is time to reevaluate this book and the lack of morals it inflicts upon our high school students and young minds in America today.

For those readers fooled into thinking there is any value in Hemingway's shallow and brief love affair between Henry and Catherine, I shudder and question their judgment. However, I can sympathize with the lack of civility and chivalry we have been trained to expect in modern relationships nowadays, but I cannot, as both a writer and a woman, condone such acceptance of the deterioration of true love.

I can think of no other characters more detrimental to the literary craft and to the culture of the American novel than Catherine and Henry. Their shallow and irritating banter should be at least stricken from the home library. For Henry to have the gall to admit that he "did not love Catherine Barkley nor had any idea of loving her. This was a game, like bridge, in which you said things instead of playing cards," demeans and belittles her. The chauvinistic, sexist bigot of an author makes this very clear in her character as she dies `stoically'. As if death were something we should head towards indifferently while hemorrhaging from childbirth to a man that didn't care at all about the child or the mother. Frankly, Hemingway insults the female gender with such derision.

Jane Austen once said, in a tone of good humor, "Is not general incivility the very essence of love?" Yet I daresay she would find the incivility between these two lovers jarring at the least. How can a tried and true relationship be based on a mutual distaste for one another? So much so as to the point of admitting seduction is a game as boring as cards creating a premise where the heroine should not be loved? Nor even spared a fleeting thought of being loved? Shame on you Hemingway. Our heroine deserves much better than what you gave her but I am content with her death at the very least ending the tedious nature of her "affair" with Henry.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Fall slightly without the context of time, but a great read none-the-less
Comment: "'There is nothing as bad as war. We in the auto-ambulance cannot even realize at all how bad it is. When people realize how bad it is they cannot do anything to stop it because they go crazy. There are some people who never realize. There are people who are afraid of their officers. It is with them that war is made'" [pg 50].

"'You're my religion. You're all I've got'" [pg 111].

"'That was the only [grenade] he had," Ettore said. "I don't know why he threw it. I guess he always wanted to throw one. He never saw any real fighting probably'" [pg 118].

There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates. Gino was a patriot, so he said things that separated us sometimes, but he was also a fine boy and I understood his being a patriot. He was born one [pg 177-78].

Once in a camp I put a log on top of the fire and it was full of ants. As it commenced to burn, the ants swarmed out and went first toward the centre where the fire was; then turned back and ran toward the end. When there were enough on the end they fell off into the fire. Some got out, their bodies burnt and flattened, and went off not knowing where they were going. But most of them went toward the fire and then back toward the end and swarmed on the cool end and finally fell off into the fire. I remember thinking at the time that it was the end of the world and a splendid chance to be a messiah and lift the log off the fire and throw it out where the ants could get off onto the ground. But I did not do anything but throw a tin cup of water on the log, so that I would have the cup empty to put whiskey in before I added water to it. I think the cup of water on the burning log only steamed the ants" [pg 310].


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