Number of Pages: 360
Publisher: Arrow Books
First Published: 1929
“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 experiences 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.” ~ Goodreads.com
I was assigned to read this book for my American Literature class and at first I was very excited, like I usually am when I am handed a new book. Ernest Hemingway is one of those authors that I’ve heard a lot about, him being an author of American Classics, however I had never actually read any of his writing. I knew beforehand that this book was based on history and the author’s personal experiences in war, which made me even more interested in reading it. Needless to say, I was very spirited by the time I opened the cover and read the first page.
But my enthusiasm stopped there. I was immediately dismayed by Hemingway’s choppy writing style that consisted of short sentences, tiny mundane details, and practically meaningless dialogue. I understand that at the time this book was published Hemingway’s writing style was innovative compared to the romanticism that had been so popular previously, and that it was a reflection of his time as a journalist. The way he wrote didn’t engage me or heighten my interest in the story, which wasn’t very interesting either. Frederick and Catherine’s relationship was strange and more like a game than real love. My interest didn’t peak until the last few chapters, and even then I wasn’t very engaged.
Despite its flaws, this novel did have some positive aspects. I really liked the way Hemingway started off certain chapters by discussing the weather or the season. He used it as a way to forecast what was to come, which I thought was clever. My favorite part of this book is definitely the ending- not due to what happened, but how Hemingway wrote about what happened. It was very abrupt and nearly emotionless, which I thought was a rather daring move on the author’s part. It was definitive yet open-ended at the same time, which left me simultaneously frustrated and satisfied. Even though the events are tragic and heart-braking, there’s still that hopeful question lingering in the rain: What’s next? The abruptness and matter-of-fact nature of the ending was daring and it made me think, which is what books are really meant to do. What’s the use in reading something that doesn’t make you think harder or a little differently?
All in all, I had mixed feelings about book. I can see the value in reading it from an educational standpoint, however as far as entertainment goes it definitely fell flat. I probably won’t be reading any more of Ernest Hemingway’s writing in the near future, but I’m glad that I experienced it at least once.
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: No, not really.