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A Farewell to Arms: The Hemingway Library Edition Paperback – July 8, 2014
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The most fallacious aspect of calling A Farewell To Arms a "war novel" is really the fact that it undermines what Hemingway wanted the reader to take away from the book: the fact that war is simply one of many trials and tribulations that slowly and painfully break us. It is yet another painful step towards death, which is, according to Hemingway, the definition of finality. It is in death that we all end and that the trials finally cease.
Now, in terms of what's been written on this page, I have very little to say. A Farewell To Arms, whether you care to admit it or not, transcends anything and everything written on Amazon.com or any other site that presents the book simply as a commodity and a merchandisable memento from a writer whose image has been bastardized by a lack of public understanding. Catherine, for her part, is a pristine character: she is unquestionably strong and her jubilance ("cheesiness") is a reflection of her unflinching loyalty to Henry. What people often fail to realize is that Henry is not really the "man" of A Farewell To Arm. Catherine fills the role that, in any other Hemingway novel, would be filled by a man. She is not simply a sad, helpless woman whose death is an unfortunate occurance in Henry's life. She is a bastion of stength and earthly defiance.
Now, Clearly this novel is not for everyone. However, insulting it because of it's "simple language" or lack of action or simply it's supposedly stilted dialogue or whatever else you care to come up with is positively absurd. Hemingway's style was not simply an iconoclastic stab at trying to make something new and weird. It reflected the focused effort that Hemingway made throughout his life to defy the established literary community by rejecting the overwrought floweriness of past novels. This act of defiance and rejection, however, was not important unto itself. If a man simply writes a story using basic verbiage, he has accomplished nothing. Hemingway did more. A Farewell To Arms is but a primer- the basic, pure outline of a massive concept that governed Hemingway's life. The book's significance lies in implication and subtleties. Hemingway often likened his novels to icebergs, in that they were primarily obscured. It is unfortunate that so few modern Hemingway readers are willing to penetrate that obscured mass that lies beneath A Farewell To Arms.
It is beneath the immediate novel that one finds the truth: The inevitable approach of death. The inherent cruelty of God. The unfortunate way of the strong. The beauty that lies only in our interactions with the ones we know and love. This is not an action story. This is not some trite Chicken Soup garbage feigning truth and meaning.
And on that note, don't get me started on Chicken Soup For The Soul. I thank God for books like A Farewell To Arms, which exist in polar opposition to all the self-help garbage that is being vomited up by modern, brain-dead "writers". The more self-help books a person reads, the more he becomes senseless and blind. He becomes filled with a trite, meaningless happiness derived from stupid falsitudes. The first step in understanding truth is abandoning the rediculous contrivances contained in modern self-help literature, which exist only to shelter us from life's uncomfortable truths. A Farewell To Arms might be "depressing", but it is at the very least candid. It is real, and it has a depth that surpasses that of most modern literature. If you don't like it, go pick up your Dan Brown novel and be thankful everyone is happy at the end. Philistines.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The saving factor of the book was the reference material to the original documents of...Read more