Friday, 28 August 2009

A Farewell to Arms

Title: A Farewell to Arms

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Number of pages: 293

Started: 25 August 2009

Finished: 28 August 2009

Opening words:

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterwards the road bare and white except for the leaves.

Plot summary:

In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the 'war to end all wars'. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of his experience came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway's description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer, and the men and women he meets in Italy, with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war. In it Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion.

What I thought:

I quote enjoyed this book. It was certainly very readable (but also rather tragic in places) and had a decent plot. However, I found parts of it rather unconvincing. For example, I never felt very convinced by the character Catherine, who I could only ever imagine as a very stilted character in a 1940s film). The book was better than I expected, but I was not entirely convinced that it deserves the praise if often receives.


Kahless said...

Have you read
T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom?

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - No, I haven't. I shall have a look at it. Thanks.

Kahless said...

I havent read it, just been inspired by a quote from it.

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - I see. Well I might take a look to see if I am also inspired.

Sarah said...

Hm. I was hoping to be persuaded by your review, because I have a brief, bad history with this book. But your comments tend to confirm my suspicions.

As a child I had a collection of St Michael's children's anthology books. (Not exactly through choice.) One of these, Short Nursing Stories for Girls, or some such thing, featured the childbirth scene from A Farewell to Arms. It put me off Hemingway for life, and didn't do a lot to promote motherhood, either!

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - I think you should stick with your original opinion!

That childbirth scene really was a bit gruesome and seeing as that is basically the conclusion of the book, it probably isn't worth reading through the rest of it to end on that.