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For Whom the Bell Tolls Paperback – July 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684803356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684803357
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (534 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For Whom the Bell Tolls begins and ends in a pine-scented forest, somewhere in Spain. The year is 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is in full swing. Robert Jordan, a demolitions expert attached to the International Brigades, lies "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." The sylvan setting, however, is at sharp odds with the reason Jordan is there: he has come to blow up a bridge on behalf of the antifascist guerrilla forces. He hopes he'll be able to rely on their local leader, Pablo, to help carry out the mission, but upon meeting him, Jordan has his doubts: "I don't like that sadness, he thought. That sadness is bad. That's the sadness they get before they quit or before they betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out." For Pablo, it seems, has had enough of the war. He has amassed for himself a small herd of horses and wants only to stay quietly in the hills and attract as little attention as possible. Jordan's arrival--and his mission--have seriously alarmed him.
"I am tired of being hunted. Here we are all right. Now if you blow a bridge here, we will be hunted. If they know we are here and hunt for us with planes, they will find us. If they send Moors to hunt us out, they will find us and we must go. I am tired of all this. You hear?" He turned to Robert Jordan. "What right have you, a foreigner, to come to me and tell me what I must do?"
In one short chapter Hemingway lays out the blueprint for what is to come: Jordan's sense of duty versus Pablo's dangerous self-interest and weariness with the war. Complicating matters even more are two members of the guerrilla leader's small band: his "woman" Pilar, and Maria, a young woman whom Pablo rescued from a Republican prison train. Unlike her man, Pilar is still fiercely devoted to the cause and as Pablo's loyalty wanes, she becomes the moral center of the group. Soon Jordan finds himself caught between the two, even as his own resolve is tested by his growing feelings for Maria.

For Whom the Bell Tolls combines two of the author's recurring obsessions: war and personal honor. The pivotal battle scene involving El Sordo's last stand is a showcase for Hemingway's narrative powers, but the quieter, ongoing conflict within Robert Jordan as he struggles to fulfill his mission perhaps at the cost of his own life is a testament to his creator's psychological acuity. By turns brutal and compassionate, it is arguably Hemingway's most mature work and one of the best war novels of the 20th century. --Alix Wilber

Review

"'The best book Hemingway has written' New York Times" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ernest Hemingway ranks as the most famous of twentieth-century American writers; like Mark Twain, Hemingway is one of those rare authors most people know about, whether they have read him or not. The difference is that Twain, with his white suit, ubiquitous cigar, and easy wit, survives in the public imagination as a basically, lovable figure, while the deeply imprinted image of Hemingway as rugged and macho has been much less universally admired, for all his fame. Hemingway has been regarded less as a writer dedicated to his craft than as a man of action who happened to be afflicted with genius. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Time magazine reported the news under Heroes rather than Books and went on to describe the author as "a globe-trotting expert on bullfights, booze, women, wars, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, and courage." Hemingway did in fact address all those subjects in his books, and he acquired his expertise through well-reported acts of participation as well as of observation; by going to all the wars of his time, hunting and fishing for great beasts, marrying four times, occasionally getting into fistfights, drinking too much, and becoming, in the end, a worldwide celebrity recognizable for his signature beard and challenging physical pursuits.

Customer Reviews

For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of Hemingway's masterpieces.
woodrow locksley
I found this book to be exciting with excellent characters and an excellent story.
J. Blackburn
This book just grabbed me and I had to read it until I finished it.
Anthony

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

466 of 503 people found the following review helpful By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' on June 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" was the first Hemingway I ever read. I was a high school kid in the early 1970s, working on my campus newspaper, newly graduated from Jack London but not yet ready for Jack Kerouac.
To my young eyes, it was a good action story: Robert Jordan, the passionate American teacher joins a band of armed gypsies in the Spanish Civil War. He believes one man can make a difference. The whole novel covers just 68 hours, during which Jordan must find a way to blow up a key bridge behind enemy lines. In that short time, Jordan also falls in love with Maria, a beautiful Spanish woman who has been raped by enemy soldiers. The whole spectrum of literature was refracted through the prism of my youth: Good guys and bad guys, sex and blood, life and death. For me, just a boy, the journey from abstraction to clarity was only just beginning.
Re-reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls" at 42 (roughly the age Hemingway was when he published it), I have lost my ability to see things clearly in black and white. My vision is blurred by irony, as I note that two enemies, the moral killer Anselmo and the sympathetic fascist Lieutenant Berrendo, utter the very same prayer. For the first time, I see that the book opens with Robert Jordan lying on the "pine-needled floor of the forest" and closes as he feels his heart pounding against the "pine needle floor of the forest"; Jordan ends as he begins, perhaps having never really moved. I certainly could never have seen at 16 how dying well might be more consequential than living well. And somehow the light has changed in the past 26 years, so that I now truly understand how the earth can move.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Brad Hartman on June 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel certainly deserves its billing as a "classic." The action takes place during the Spanish Civil War (of the 1930's), and the story follows a group of guerilla loyalists, who are fighting against Franco's fascist forces in the name of the Republic.
The entire novel only covers a span of three days, so the reader truly gets a sense of the time passing. Because of this, it feels as if the events are actually occurring as one is reading. Each moment is important, and there are few discontinuities in the story. Also, the novel is written in an interesting format where the climax doesn't occur until the final pages-this adds quite a bit of suspense. What really makes this book so excellent is the delicate combination of action and lull, and love and hate, which Hemingway builds into the story. There is a very beautiful (if only slightly unrealistic) love story carefully interwoven with murder, conspiracy, and disaster.
It is impossible not to deeply care for each individual in the story because there are few characters, and they are all extremely well developed. The reader can find a piece of somebody that he/she knows in every character. Hemingway also deals effectively with emotion. It is always easy to understand exactly what each person is feeling. With Robert Jordan, specifically, Hemingway uses a unique series of monologue-type passages so that the reader really can "get inside" Jordan's head. Somehow, Hemingway manages to do this while keeping out that uneasiness one gets when reading a play monologue. The novel has an anti-war feel to it, but it still contains several enthralling battle scenes. If only the love story were a bit more believable, this book could be truly fantastic. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is definitely a worthwhile read right from the opening quote by John Donne all the way to the very last page.
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115 of 131 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on March 4, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Usually, even with the best books, I would say that "this book is not for everyone." Not so with this novel. I truly believe that this book IS for everyone. Unlike so much other 20th century literature, one need not be well read to get something out of it.
The story is of two of man's most cherished and hated traditions: Love and War. The tragedy is that we have had so much of the latter and so little of the former. We see much of both in "For Whom The Bell Tolls." It is a tender story of two young people who just want to live a "normal" life together during the Spainish civil war, but who are prevented from doing thus due to their being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It is incredulous to me that there were other reviewers who found this book "boring." I can only surmise that anyone who would find a novel such as this boring will not find anything "exciting" unless it has Arnold Scharzenegger swinging around a machine gun. But that, I believe, is the fault of the reader's lack of attention span and cannot be blamed on Hemingway.
The author writes that "The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it." I would agree. Anyone else who agrees, and anyone who has a passion and zest for life should read this book. One of the best examples of American literature in the 20th century.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Norburn on February 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
For Whom the Bell Tolls is quite simply one of the best novels ever written. Honestly, I had relatively low expectations before reading it. I read A Farewell to Arms and found the terse, repetitive prose and stilted dialogue underwhelming. For Whom the Bell Tolls is superior to A Farewell to Arms in every way. This is a complex novel with some of the most memorable characters in modern literature.

This mesmerizing novel neither glorifies war, not does it vilify it. Hemmingway's detached prose is world weary, exposing both sides of the conflict, allowing us to see that war, inevitable and futile, is never simple. Characters on both sides of the conflict struggle with their own fears and regrets. Both sides commit, and are subjected to, the atrocities and horrors of war. As different as each side may think they are from the other, in the end, they are all human and are not as different as they think.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is riveting and powerful, easily one of the ten best novels of the 20th century. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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