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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
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.
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Top customer reviews
Hemingway faces middle age and doesn't like it. He resists it, in his pursuit Renata and his reminiscences of his past which he knows cannot be undone or done again. All this is said in that taunt lapidarian prose that verges on verse. Parody, dull, aimless, etc. all these charges could be leveled at any of his works. Read this because it is quintessential Hemingway and points out, however indirectly many of his graces. You may find this a powerful digestivo to a moveable feast that is Hemingway.
I've recommended this book to a few friends and they've all reported back with "meh" reviews, some not even finishing it. Here's why: this isn't f***ing cocktail hour, this is all business, and like all of Hemingway's books it takes a few hundred pages of build up to get to the real meat and potatoes, to the good stuff. A Farewell To Arms demands the reader's patience, and then rewards it ten-fold. For example, there is a specific passage toward the end of the book which F. Scott Fitzgerald praised as "the finest passage ever written in the history of the English language." (or something to that effect, *not a direct quote*, but you get the idea).
Special note: this Library Edition is a beautiful book that contains all kinds of goodies (see product description) -- a must for writers and serious readers.
That being said, I did not absolutely love this story. The plot meandered along and the story progressed very slowly. If you're expecting a war memoir with a side of love story, I'd avoid this book. The main character is an ambulance driver and the majority of the book is spent describing his love for a nurse; the description on the back of the book was a little misleading in this regard because it seems to have an equal proportion of references to war and love.
Farewell to Arms is an easy read, but it definitely hasn't earned a spot as one of my favorite books.
If you like Hemingway's writing style, especially his reflections on human nature, you'll probably like this one.
The book itself is well made of good quality paper. As required texts go, this has to be one of the better bargains I've had.
It also has a bunch of authors notes and alternate versions of some events and of the ending.