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A Farewell to Arms: The Hemingway Library Edition Hardcover – July 10, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 996 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

These dual Hemingways are the latest volumes in the Scribner Paperback Fiction series (Classic Returns, February 15, p. 187). They offer quality trade size editions, featuring attractive covers and easily readable type size. Two of the greats.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Hemingway Library Edition
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451658168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451658163
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (996 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Seven decades after the intial publication, A Farewell to Arms now seems to be the Hemingway novel that gets the most attention and many readers new to Hemingway are probably drawn to it for their initial exposure to the author. Normally, starting off with a writer's best book might be a good approach, but not in this case. A Farewell to Arms, while Hemingway's greatest work, also offers the uninitiated reader the greatest challenge. This is as terse as it gets, and if you're not familiar with Hemingway's style, you may find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about. Worse, you may become one of those millions of intelligent, well-read people who think he is a horrible joke. Start with a few of the short stories. Read some of the criticism (positive and negative). Do a little research on WWI (if you feel you need to). Then go for The Sun Also Rises. At that point, you will be hooked, or you will write the guy off forever. If you find yourself in the former category, you will really appreciate the opportunity to read incredible this book.
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A FAREWELL TO ARMS is one of Hemingway's earliest novels. With much of the material loosely based on his own personal experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I, the story captures in great detail the conflict in all of its horror and barbarism.
The book invites us to imagine all of the brave soldiers who went into the war in search of glory. What they found instead was the endless stalemate and hideous prospect of trench warfare. Perhaps more than any other war in the history of warfare, the first World War changed the traditional paradigms of how wars were fought and what the objectives of engagements were. Hemingway, who was there himself, serves as a perfect instrument to portray what it was really like.
The plot centers around Frederick Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army (a job Hemingway performed himself). Henry is a typical masculine Hemingway male persona who falls in love with a beautiful, long-haired & impetuous British nurse named Catherine Barkley. Henry is an exemplar of the WWI soldier who gets more than he bargains for in the war; betrayal and ignominious soldiering of the Italians in the wake of defeat.
The tragic irony of this novel is what makes it so memorable. Henry, as a wounded man who withdraws from the battle, as well as the whims of the Italian Army. However, he does so only to find that life is full of tragedy whether you're in a war or not.
I would highly recommend this novel to all fans of Hemingway, American literature and World War I period historical and literary works. It is with the subtle prose of Heminway that we can be effectively transported back to that epoch of our world history.
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By Bill Frist on November 9, 2005
Ok folks. I had no intention of writing a review of A Farewell To Arms, but what's been written on this page necessitates a response. This is not an anti-war novel. Well, I suppose it's anti-war in the sense that there is a war and wars are bad. There is no definitive literary content in this novel that suggests that Hemingway was making an anti-war statement. In FACT, the only work that Hemingway unequivocally dubbed "anti-war" was For Whom The Bell Tolls. There really are only two grotesque war scenes (the shell exploding in the drivers' tent and the man bleeding to death in the ambulance) and that hardly constitutes the book's classification as an "anti-war novel" or "anti-war allegory" or parable or masterwork or whatever you want to insert to justify yourself. Sure, one cane make the assertion that the man bleeding to death in the ambulance was indicitive of the slow, callous slaughter of the world's young healthy males during WWI, but it would have been impossible for Hemingway to have written the entire book without making SOME reference to the grotesque nature of the war. A Farewell To Arms, however, is not Guernica. It is not a Dadaist painting. It is certainly not that old Mel Gibson movie where he dies at the end (remember that?).

The point is, this book has thematic elements that hardly relate to war. Take love, for instance. But love, unto itself, is more a compication than anything. At it's simplest, the novel is about strength. Strength, unabashed and unflinching. It is about the eternal struggle that every strong man and woman fights until their (untimely) death. It is the struggle with the world and the universe, which so callously torments the strong until they succumb to the weight of the unforgiving cosmos.
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Format: Hardcover
Exactly what sort of book would one expect from a writer who had just written "For Whom the Bell Tolls"? I don't know either, but probably not this hushed, elegiac novel. It's not the brooding melancholy of "Across the River and Into the Trees" itself that's surprising - it's that the book contains no action and no climax of pretty much any sort, and that it still manages to be so good.
Essentially, the book is the restless consciousness of one Richard Cantwell, Colonel in the United States Army, veteran of two world wars, recipient of many grave wounds, who is travelling through Europe one last time to shoot some ducks, meet some old friends, and spend a couple of days with his last, real and only love, a nineteen-year-old (!) countess named Renate. The book is aptly titled - it flows like a quiet old river, slowly but surely and a bit sadly. Like many a Hemingway hero, Cantwell is stuck with an empty existence, a profession he doesn't much care for, and awareness of both of the above. Love Renate though he does, he lives in the past, constantly reliving this and that battle, moving imaginary troops one minute, then wondering about the meaning of it all the next.
Renate herself is the least realistic of all Hemingway women, and as a female lead she's poor indeed. That is not, however, the way she should be seen. She is described as having almost unworldly gentleness and purity, an enormous contrast to the colonel (esp. given her youth). In a way, she becomes almost a symbol of the youth the colonel has irrevocably lost, an epitome of everything he missed out on - and the stories of the battles he tells her become almost like religious confessions.
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