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A Farewell to Arms

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A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield - the weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep. Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote his ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right.

293 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 1929

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About the author

Ernest Hemingway

1,560 books28.1k followers
Terse literary style of Ernest Miller Hemingway, an American writer, ambulance driver of World War I , journalist, and expatriate in Paris during the 1920s, marks short stories and novels, such as The Sun Also Rises (1926) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952), which concern courageous, lonely characters, and he won the Nobel Prize of 1954 for literature.

Economical and understated style of Hemingway strongly influenced 20th-century fiction, whereas his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He published seven novels, six short story collections and two nonfiction works. Survivors published posthumously three novels, four collections of short stories, and three nonfiction works. People consider many of these classics.

After high school, Hemingway reported for a few months for the Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian front to enlist. In 1918, someone seriously wounded him, who returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms . In 1922, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved, and he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the expatriate community of the "lost generation" of 1920s.

After his divorce of 1927 from Hadley Richardson, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. At the Spanish civil war, he acted as a journalist; afterward, they divorced, and he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls . Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and 1940s.

Martha Gellhorn served as third wife of Hemingway in 1940. When he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II, they separated; he presently witnessed at the Normandy landings and liberation of Paris.

Shortly after 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where two plane crashes almost killed him and left him in pain and ill health for much of the rest of his life. Nevertheless, in 1959, he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.

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Profile Image for Meg Sherman.
169 reviews443 followers
November 18, 2008
I feel like awarding the great Hemingway only two stars has officially consigned me to the seventh circle of literary hell. But I must be honest. By this website's criteria two stars indicates that a book is "okay" - and to me that describes this work perfectly.

Hemingway himself is undeniably gifted. I love his succinct style (though at times it degenerates to downright caveman-speak), his honest diction and his wonderful sense of humor. That being said, he gets away with utterly ignoring most rules of writing - which I admire at times, but let's face it, some of those rules are there for a REASON. This book is overflowing with extreme run-on sentences, constant use of qualifiers (I think "very" might actually be his VERY favorite word), adjectives (even NOUNS!) used four or five times in the same paragraph, and long stretches of dialogue involving more than two speakers with absolutely no indication of who is saying what (if I hadn't been reading a library book, I would have color-coded the darn thing!) And besides style, the story itself just didn't grab me. I didn't give two farts about the self-absorbed, unthinking, unfeeling protagonist or his codependent, psychologically damaged doormat of a girlfriend. This is NOT a love story. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who thinks it is. Men who hate women are incapable of writing love stories. And for the life of me, I can't derive a theme - or even a general POINT - to this book... unless mayhap it is "stupid, senseless tragedy happens sometimes to people you don't care about." I did feel like crying several times while reading, though... but only because of the mention of alcohol on almost every page of text... I could literally HEAR Hemingway drinking himself to death. It broke my heart.


"We walked to the door and I saw her go in and down the hall. I liked to watch her move. She went on down the hall. I went on home. It was a hot night and there was a good deal going on up in the mountains. I watched the flashes on San Gabriele. I stopped in front of the Villa Rossa. The shutters were up but it was still going on inside. Somebody was singing. I went on home." (FOR THE LOVE WILL SOMEBODY HELP THIS GUY GET HOME????)

"I came up onto a road. Ahead I saw some troops coming down the road. I limped along the side of the road and they passed me and paid no attention to me. They were a machine-gun detachment going up toward the river. I went on down the road." (FOR THE LOVE WILL SOMEBODY HELP THIS GUY GO ON DOWN THE ROAD???)

And now that I've slammed him so hard, here is a glimpse at the genius that allows him to get away with it all.


"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."

"They were beaten to start with. They were beaten when they took them from their farms and put them in the army. That is why the peasant has wisdom, because he is defeated from the start. Put him in power and see how wise he is."

"The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one... Who said it?... He was probably a coward. He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them."

"Life isn't hard to manage when you've nothing to lose."

"I was blown up while we were eating cheese."

AND MY FAVORITE SCENE: (His friend Rinaldi begins the dialogue)

"Loan me fifty lire."

I dried my hands and took out my pocket-book from the inside of my tunic hanging on the wall. Rinaldi took the note, folded it without rising from the bed and slid it in his breeches pocket. He smiled, "I must make on Miss Barkley the impression of a man of sufficient wealth. You are my great and good friend and financial protector."

"Go to hell," I said.

Profile Image for Skylar Burris.
Author 20 books238 followers
September 11, 2008
The old joke proves itself upon reading.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A (Hemingway): To die. In the rain.

Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 24 books1,329 followers
May 23, 2008
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Book #17: A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway (1929)

The story in a nutshell:
Published in the late 1920s, right when Modernism was first starting to become a commercially successful form of the arts, A Farewell to Arms is Ernest Hemingway's wry and cynical look at World War I, the event that most defined not only his generation but also the beginning of the Modernist movement. Semi-autobiographical in nature, the book tells the story of Frederic Henry, known to most as "Tenente" (Italian slang for "Lieutenant"), a young and gung-ho American who couldn't get accepted by the American military during the war, so volunteered to be an ambulance driver for the Italian army instead. One of the first of Hemingway's tales to define the stoic "man's man" he would eventually become known for, the novel basically follows Tenente through a series of thrilling escapades, made even more interesting because of the main character not seeing them as thrilling at all -- nearly having his leg torn off while at the front, saving a man's life, escaping execution by diving off a bridge, a rowboat ride to Switzerland in the middle of the night while fleeing a group of pursuers, and a whole lot more.

Like I said, though, Hemingway's point here is not to glamorize war, but rather to highlight the mundane aspects of it all; the endless red tape, the weasely things people do to get out of actual work, the BS conversations that are always taking place among soldiers, all of them arguing over how the war is going but none of them actually possessing any factual information. At the same time, though, A Farewell to Arms is about the monstrous developments of World War I in particular, the very first large war to be fought during the Industrial Age, and therefore capable of inflicting so much more carnage than anyone thought possible. (For example, the brand-new European railway system is heavily featured throughout the book, and especially the fact that in a half-day's ride, you could go literally from the battlefront to a five-star luxury hotel, something that had never been possible before WWI.) Oh, and if all this wasn't enough, Hemingway throws in a love story too, a complicated one featuring a complicated woman, one that has been a source of heated interpretation since the book first came out 79 years ago.

The argument for it being a classic:
There seems to be two main arguments for this being a classic, one based on the author and one on the book itself. Because the fact is that Hemingway is considered by many to be one of the most important novelists in the history of that format, a fabled "High Priest of Modernism" who taught all of us to think in a punchier, shorter way, and with this mostly being for the better for the arts in general. Because let's not forget, a mere twenty or thirty years before this book was first published, it was actually the flowery and overwritten Victorian style of literature that dominated the publishing industry; and as we've all learned throughout the course of this "CCLaP 100" essay series, although Victorian literature certainly has its charms and inherent strengths, it's also a whole lot of talking to say not much at all, a situation that was starting to drive artists crazy by the time the 20th century got into swing. Hemingway, fans claim, was the first Modernist to really bring all the details together in a profoundly great way -- the first to combine the exciting rat-a-tat style of pulp-fiction writers with the weighty subjects of the academic community, producing work that owes as much to Raymond Chandler as it does to Virginia Woolf but is ultimately much better than simply reading those two authors back-to-back. And by making its subject World War I, fans say, Hemingway here turns in yet another great document of those times that the early Modernists were known for -- from The Great Gatsby to All Quiet Among the Western Front, it's hard for us to even think of the artists from the "Jazz Age" or "Lost Generation" or whatever you want to call it, without thinking of this globe-changing event that was so in the middle of it. There's a good reason, after all, that many consider A Farewell to Arms one of the greatest war novels of all time.

The argument against:
Of course, there are others who can't even hear the words "Ernest Hemingway" without automatically shuddering, again for a variety of reasons that even most of his fans admit hold at least some weight -- because he is overrated by the academic community, because his personal style is a hackneyed, easily parodied one, because his "man's man" shtick got real old real fast, because it's now inspired three generations of a--holes (and counting) to want to be bull-fleeing, cigar-smoking woman-haters too. At its heart, its critics say, A Farewell to Arms is an interesting-enough little ditty, mostly because Hemingway himself had some interesting little experiences during the war that he basically cribbed wholesale for the book; but then this story is covered with layer after layer of bad prose, macho posturing, and aimless meanderings that get you about as far away from a traditional three-act novel as you can possibly get. With Hemingway and his critics, it's never a case of "it's a good enough book but shouldn't be labeled a classic;" those who dislike him really dislike him, and wish to see his work removed from academic reading lists altogether. "classic" label or not.

My verdict:
So let me embarrassingly admit that this is actually the very first book by Hemingway I've ever read, and that I was hesitant going into it because of just the overwhelming amount of bad stuff that's been said about him over the decades; to be truthful, I was half-expecting a parody of Hemingway at this point, all little words and nonsensical sentences and dudes treating girls kinda like crap most of the time. And yes, the book does for sure contain a certain amount of all this; but I was surprised, to tell you the truth, by how how tight, illuminating, fascinating and just plain funny A Farewell to Arms turned out to actually be. Wait, funny, you say? Sure; I dare you not to laugh, for example, during the scene when a huge argument breaks out between two Swiss border guards over which of their two hometowns boasts better winter sports. ("Ah, you see? He does not even know what a luge is!") This is what makes it such an intriguing novel about war, after all, because Hemingway expertly shows just how many surreal moments there are during times of war as well, that "war" doesn't just mean the two lines of soldiers facing each other at the front but also an entire region, an entire industry, an entire population. Hemingway's World War I is not just seen from the smeared windshield of a battlefront ambulance, but from bored soldiers getting drunk in a quiet bunker, from weary villagers hoping there will be at least something left of their homes after the war is over, from armchair pundits recovering in crumbling veteran hospitals, arguing over which complicated international treaty sunk them all and which is going to save them. It's an expansive, multi-facted, sometimes highly unique look at a wartime environment, one that at least here in his early career (he published this when he was 30) belies all the complaints that have ever been made about his hackneyed personal style.

And as far as that love story in the middle of it all, and the repeated complaints about Hemingway's characters all being misogynists...well, maybe it was just me, but I found his Catherine Barkley to be the very model of a modern independent woman (or at least modern and independent in 1920s terms), a fiercely intelligent and cynical creature who expects the same from her lovers, even while realizing that such a man is destined to either die in the environment they're currently in, or survive just to become a bitter, angry a--hole later in life. The way I see it, Catherine is simply trying to make the best of a bad situation; she needs love and intimacy in her life as much as anyone else, and especially in her role as a risk-taking, thick-skinned nurse just a few miles from the battle's front, but also understands that Tenente is destined to befall one of the two fates just mentioned, thus explaining the curious push/pull emotions she has towards him and the way she treats him throughout the novel. It's a surprisingly sophisticated relationship at work, the same thing that can be said of the novel in general; I don't know about the rest of Hemingway's work (yet, anyway), but at least A Farewell to Arms turned out to be a surprisingly cracking read, not only a definite classic but just an all-around amazing book in general. It comes highly recommended today.

Is it a classic? Yes
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews46 followers
August 20, 2021
(Book 663 From 1001 books) - A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms is a novel by Ernest Hemingway set during the Italian campaign of World War I. The book, published in 1929, The title is taken from a poem by 16th-century English dramatist George Peele.

A Farewell to Arms is about a love affair between the expatriate American Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley against the backdrop of the First World War, cynical soldiers, fighting and the displacement of populations.

The publication of A Farewell to Arms cemented Hemingway's stature as a modern American writer, became his first best-seller, and is described by biographer Michael Reynolds as "the premier American war novel from that debacle World War I."

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه اکتبر سال 1972میلادی

عنوان: وداع با اسلحه؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم: نجف دریابندری؛ تهران، سازمان کتابهای جیبی؛ 1340؛ در 276ص؛ چاپ 1344 در 346ص؛ چاپ 1362 در 410ص؛ چاپ هفتم در 410ص؛ چاپ نیلوفر، 1376، در 423ص؛ چاپ دوازدهم 1382؛ چهاردهم 1387؛ شانزدهم 1392؛ شابک 9789644480591؛ موضوع: داستانهای جنگ جهانگیر نخست - از سال 1914م تا سال 1918میلادی - سده 20م

عنوان: وداع با اسلحه؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم: ر مرعشی؛ تهران، پروین؛ 1354؛ در 224ص؛

مترجمین دیگر خانمها و آقایان: «نازی عظیما؛ نشر افق»؛ «هانیه چوپانی، نشر آسو و نشر کوله پشتی»؛ «هاجر زینی وند»؛ «دنیا گودرزی»؛ «راضیه فتاح الجنان»؛ «کیومرث پارسای، نشر ناژ»؛ «مهدی افشار»؛ «مجید امینی»؛ و ...؛

رمانی نوشته «ارنست همینگوی» نویسنده «ایالات متحده آمریکا»، و برنده ی جایزه «نوبل ادبیات» است، که در سال 1929میلادی منتشر شد؛ داستان آن درباره ی جوانی «آمریکایی»، با نام «فردریک هنری» است، که با درجه ستوان، در جنگ جهانی اول، در بخش آمبولانس‌ها، در ارتش «ایتالیا» خدمت می‌کند؛ عنوان رمان از شعری برگرفته شده که «جرج پیل» در سده ی شانزدهم میلادی سروده‌ بودند؛ ...؛

نقل از متن برگردان خانم «هانیه چوپانی»: (آخرهای تابستان آن سال، ما در خانه‌ ای در یک دهکده زندگی میکردیم که در برابرش رودخانه، ریگ‌ها و پاره سنگ‌ها، زیر آفتاب، خشک و سفید بود؛ آب زلال بود و نرم حرکت میکرد و در جاهایی که مجرا عمیق بود، رنگ آبی داشت؛ نظامی‌ها از کنار رودخانه در جاده می‌گذشتند و گرد و خاکی که بلند می‌کردند روی برگهای درختان مینشست؛ تنه درخت‌ها هم گرد و خاکی بود؛ آن سال برگ‌ها زود شروع به ریختن کرد و ما میدیدیم که قشون در طول جاده حرکت میکرد و گرد و خاک برمی‌خاست و برگها با وزش نسیم میریخت و سربازها میرفتند و پشت سرشان جاده لخت و سفید به جا میماند و فقط برگ روی جاده به چشم می خورد...؛

میفهمیدم مغزشان چگونه کار می ند، اگر مغزی داشتند و اگر کار میکرد! همه آن‌ها مردان جوانی بودند و داشتند کشورشان را نجات میدانند...؛ از سرگرد به بالا، افسرانی را که از نفراتشان جدا شده بودند، اعدام می‌کردند...؛ زیر باران ایستاده بودیم و یک به یک ما را میبردند، بازپرسی می‌کردند و گلوله می‌زدند؛ بازپرس‌ها دارای آن انصاف و عدالت و بی‌نظری زیبای کسانی بودند که با مرگ سر و کار داشته باشند، بی آنکه خطرش آن‌ها را تهدید کند؛ داشتند از یک سرهنگ تمام فوج جبهه، بازپرسی میکردند...؛)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 02/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 28/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Matt.
Author 1 book13 followers
June 30, 2021
I just finished it, and I'm disappointed. And not only disappointed; I'm also bothered by it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at Hemingway's one-dimensional, sexist portrayal of Catherine Barkley, having read much of his other work, but somehow I still am. Put simply, Catherine is a ridiculous figure, and it's no fault of her own. Hemingway gives her no opportunity to sound like anything more than a half-crazy, desperate, fawning caricature with no real desires or opinions of her own. How many times must I read lines like, "I'll say just what you wish and I'll do what you wish and then you will never want any other girls, will you?" issue from her lips? Does Hemingway believe women think and talk like this, or does he mean to make his female characters sound like would-be wife-pets?

(I just read a review below that describes Henry and Catherine's dialogue as 'incantations,' the point being that the two, especially Catherine, are trying to will themselves to be happy despite an over-whelming sense of despair. It's an interesting point,and definitely makes reading the scenes with the two of them more palatable. But as much as I'd like to think that that was what Hemingway was going for, I don't know...)

As for the rest of the book, I suppose an argument could be made for its "ground-breaking" sexual frankness or for the necessarily graphic depictions of the front, and I'll buy that. There are, after all, a number of great moments. Still, it's hard to accept the canonization this book as THE central WWI novel and ignore the fact that one of its main characters is very poorly written, perhaps intentionally so.
Profile Image for Ben.
74 reviews961 followers
July 25, 2009
I'm not a Hemingway guy. I yearn for internal dialogue, various and ladened spiritual questioning, and deep psychology in my characters. I prefer writing that is smooth and philosophical. Hemingway gives me little of this.

But the settings of this book were beautiful, and the dialogue between characters, poignant. By the end, I found that Hemingway had craftily fucked with me to the point of my complete immersion into the novel.

It made me cry.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
656 reviews7,106 followers
October 16, 2014

War is Boring

Hemingway’s narrator writes not as a soldier but as a journalist-soldier, channeling Hemingway himself, recording with precision and apparent objectivity the things that happen around him and to him - practical and prosaic and always pragmatic about everything. People die and bombs explode in the same paragraph as the one where breakfast was considered with equal interest, and he takes it all in his stride.

As best as I can tell, the action of A Farewell to Arms takes place from 1916 and before the end of the war. Place references and political references come and go without troubling the narrator too much - he is not to be bothered with such details. His context is not simply this war, but all wars and the notions of honor, heroism and patriotism - all of which he looks at with pristine incomprehension.

War always generates backlash, even from the Mahabharata and the Iliad to the many anti-war epics over the ages - the honor and glory that war is supposed to provide is questioned in its aftermath. The bloodlust and the fever-pitch cries of honor precedes war and then they calm down into searching questions about what those terms mean or into scathing parodies.

I am not entirely sure whether Farewell to Arms is a sober questioning of these virtues or a shambolic parody of them. It is never quite clear whether Hemingway is making fun of war or just expressing profound ennui. Especially when he combines Love with War, and both seem to get the same treatment, it becomes even harder to deduce whether Hemingway is ridiculing war and its virtues or life and its delusions in general and including love also into it. After all, the famous ending doesn’t leave us with much to pick up the pieces after.

The narrator tells the often ugly truth about war, without even trying to be anti-war in any way. By depicting daily life, he achieves it without an effort. It is the prosaicness of action, the utter lack of drama that becomes the most significant force in the narration - even his injury is incurred not in valorous combat but while he is eating spaghetti.

All this combines to show up war as a hideous game, but one entirely not worth the bother. There are so many subtle ways in which he trivializes war, always retaining the impression that it is not a conscious effort, as if he was not even telling us anything about the war, letting it remain in the background as a boring humm.
“The war seemed as far away as the football games of some one else's college.”

We are not even allowed particularly intelligent characters to liven up the drudgery of our reading, the novel is full of the Ordinary, the exceptional striking in its absence - and the readers are left disoriented, repeatedly trying to remind themselves that they are in the midst of the greatest and most destructive war humanity had yet known.

In the end, war is exposed as not only meaningless but boring. Usually war writers exploit the Pathos of war, Hemingway walks right inside, shows us around and escorts us out after having shown us the utter blandness of the ‘heroic’ exercise.

Even the “Love Story” is constructed out of the boring bits and of repeated bland conversations that seem almost never-ending and droll. Here Hemingway is probably playing us again: instead of the usual technique of showing the pleasant bucolic scenery of distant daily-life and contrasting that against gory war scenes and thus asking the reader to thirst for the war to end, Hemingway places both the personal and the public sphere next to each other, exposes both and yet somehow derides war through this. I am not yet sure how he does that, but my feelings wherever I encountered this tells me that he does it well.

Hemingway’s notorious fault is the monotony of repetition, and he has always been considered a better short story writer than novelist - the short form plays into his prowess for portraying ironies in short staccato beats. In A Farewell to Arms, he brings both his strengths and weakness as a storyteller and makes them both work for him masterfully. He converts the act of boring the reader into an art form and into an exercise in supreme irony. Very effective. Almost as effective as comedy, if you ask me.

While it is hard to interpret A Farewell to Arms as hopeful, to me it was so, though in a subtle way. It leaves us the hope that if only more soldiers could be like the Tenente and just walk away from all the boredom, even though only boredom awaits in normal life, things could be better.

To me the most striking impression of all, in a work filled with unforgettable impressions, was the sheer acceptance exhibited by the narrator: The hustle of the war, his own life, and the entire world even seems to move past the stoic Tenente who is left a mere spectator, but who never seems to question the events that unfold.

This captures the spirit of the war and also of the times.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,949 reviews615 followers
April 13, 2023
It is a strong story, beautiful and sad at the same time. It is a war novel, a book of men who question, drink, go to the front brothel, fight, die, or are wounded, and try to understand where it leads them. It is a love story that lasts an hour, a night, and a life, filling the void of man's solitude with the horror of war, which grows in the face of the absurdity of great words such as "duty and honour."
A rich vocabulary, a particular rhythm of small sentences, and numerous repetitions give the Italian tone to this novel, yet very American. The author uses the words brilliantly for descriptions, especially fights, and modifies his style according to the nationality and character of the characters. It is a well-researched, compelling story, an actual novel where a man finds himself naked, facing her fears, facing his joys, a modern book in tone, a great novel!
The first pages disturbed me a little. I understood the meaning without understanding the style. However, I persevered well; it was well-written, and the story significantly moved me!
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,496 reviews2,382 followers
April 9, 2020
Damn. That ending. Even whilst still dusting off the cover (it's been lying around for ages) I already knew it's finale. It's simply been impossible to ignore. Even cropping up in three or four films I have seen over the years. Knowing it is one thing, but actually reading it is quite another. So, the big question is - did this in anyway tarnish the novel for me? In a word, No. As once I truly got stuck into Hemingway's compulsive narrative all was forgotten. His presentation of war was just as remarkable as his sincerity of presenting us with love. Both leading characters were simply two of the 20th century's most memorable - the all American hero Henry, a volunteer in the Italian Ambulance Service, and the sweet natured English nurse Catherine Barkley who adds a subtle feminine charm throughout the novel.

All the descriptions of life on the WW1 front and in the hospitals, the talk of the officers, privates, and doctors, are crisp, clear and so natural, making for a convincing narrative the whole way through, even though Henry perhaps felt a little too mature and experienced for a young man. Catherine I saw as the more credible character, she was most skilfully modelled as the eternal feminine in nursing dress. Difficult to work out at first, but oh God how I fell in love with her. It comes as no surprise to me it was a book I found easy to read like other Hemingway books, made even easier after the head scratching and exasperation at the hands of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury prior to this.

Hemingway dramatically intensifies the narrative after the halfway point, and the story deepens on an emotional level as Henry patched up from a war wound returns to the Isonzo front. The year has been a serious one for the Italian army, and a breakthrough for the Germans at Caporetto spells disaster. The Caporetto retreat, which forms the background for an entire portion of the book, and furnishes the action, is simply a masterly piece of descriptive narration. After escaping death by diving into a river, and later arrest by concealing himself in a gun truck till it reaches Milan, the novel really does showcase two people very much in love. It reminded me of the deep love shown in Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago. I can't think of too many other novels I have read were I have felt a love so great and pure. Some of the scenes held such an atmospheric truth, whether in love or war, that it's easy to see why it's probably Hemingway's most read novel, even though it might not be his best.

The story of Henry and Catherine could have been overly polished with sentimentality (one of my pet hates), and probably would have been had Hemingway been around in the Victorian era. Thankfully, there is only as much as a slight echo. This no doubt deserves to be branded as a classic, and it didn't let me down. A Farewell to Arms was simply a most moving and beautiful thing. The reason for not dishing out the five stars is that I still preferred The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast. But that's just me.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,720 followers
April 15, 2017
Well, that was disappointing.

For several months I've been focused on reading more classic literature, mostly as a way to dig deep and enrich my life during these trying political times. Until now, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. This Hemingway novel was my first dud.

I wanted to like this book. I've been reading more on World War I this past year and thought A Farewell to Arms would fit both my WWI interest and my goal of appreciating classics. But ol' Hem (as I learned to call him in A Moveable Feast, a book of his I did like) didn't make it easy for me when he wrote the character of Catherine Barkley. Catherine plays the love interest in this novel, and she is so insipid, silly and annoying that I started dreading this book.

The story follows Frederic Henry, an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army during the war. He meets Catherine, who is a British nurse, and they fall in love. Catherine eventually becomes pregnant, and they manage to escape to Switzerland. The ending of this book is depressing, as are most war novels.

But the sad ending isn't why I disliked this book so much. Hemingway is famous for his "terse prose," but I think in this book it does him a disservice. The characters are two-dimensional, the war scenes lacked grit, and the whole novel just felt flat to me. Hem does have a few famous lines that came from Farewell (some noted below), which is what kept this book from a 1 rating for me.

I listened to this on audio, performed by the talented John Slattery (of "Mad Men" fame) but not even he could make me excited to read this Hemingway book. It reminded me of when I listened to Colin Firth read Graham Greene's The End of the Affair, and Firth's marvelousness couldn't salvage that novel, either. Both are good actors doing their best with mediocre texts.

If I were going to recommend a World War I novel to someone, I would tell them to read All Quiet on the Western Front, and to skip Farewell. I'll circle back around to some other Hem novels in the future, but for now I'm going to enjoy a break from his terseness.*

*Note: My first instinct when writing this review was to imitate Hem's signature style, lots of "fine and true and good and courage" and whatnot, but frankly, Warwick wrote his review so well that I abandoned the idea and encourage you to check out his grand version.

Good Quotes
"All thinking men are atheists."

"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."

"I know the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started."

Final Thought
One addendum is that I had a print copy of A Farewell to Arms that included Hemingway's introduction to the 1948 edition, and I liked those 3 1/2 pages better than I liked the entire novel. If you do give this book a chance, try to find a copy with that author intro.

"The fact that the book was a tragic one did not make me unhappy since I believed that life was a tragedy and knew it could have only one end. But finding you were able to make something up; to create truly enough so that it made you happy to read it; and to do this every day you worked was something that gave me a greater pleasure than any I had ever known. Beside it nothing else mattered."
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,257 followers
January 20, 2023
An American studying architecture in Rome, Frederick Henry, is transformed into a Lt. in the Italian Army, when World War I starts. He volunteers even though America doesn't enter , the Great War, for another 3 years ! Why? He probably can't say, himself , but young men want excitement in their dull lives. He joins the ambulance corps on the northern front , in charge of four drivers , and a few motorcars, picking up the badly wounded soldiers, when feasible, the dead are carried outside the vehicles , no need now. Austrians are the enemy, but the high snowy mountains, freezing weather , make battles difficult, to fight, swollen rivers dangerous to cross , the artillery flashing in the night, screaming mortars above , and coming down no-one knows where, except the unfortunates, but too late for them. Rinaldi a very capable surgeon in the Italian army , getting better every day, putting back together the wounded bodies, saving lives, most of the time . Is Lt. Henry's affable roommate, always joking, and best friend, in a good house, in a mostly undamaged village, near the war, for officers. A man who loves women, to a certain degree ( lust may be the correct word), he has seen his latest enchanting female, but to his deep regret, not a mutual feeling between the two. The gracious doctor tells the lieutenant about the beautiful blonde, tall British nurse, Catherine Barkley, even introduces him. It doesn't take long for a romance, she lost her fiancee in France, last year, 1916, in the trenches, at first she , then he too falls in love , not wanting or expecting it, her best friend and fellow nurse Helen Ferguson , disapproves. Lonely people amid a terrible conflict somehow require something to continue their joyless existence. Shortly after, while waiting in a ditch at the front, for the bombardment to halt, a mortar shell hits, killing one of his men and badly wounding him, in both legs.The ambulance will take the driver for a ride not in front, this time, but in the back, he the young American, feels a warm liquid dropping from the top, the blood oozing out of another soldier, will not stop, Henry can't move, just endure, until there is no more. The vehicle ceases traveling, heavy rains pouring down, the dead man put on the muddy ground, and another victim carried inside. They finally arrive at the unsanitary field hospital, safely navigating the treacherous mountain roads and bombs. Catherine becomes the Lt.'s nurse and much more. Since Milan, is not far away and an American hospital has just opened (this is 1917), a better place for treatment. Catherine gets assigned there, never a difficulty, she says mysteriously. But the recovered Mr.Henry, must go back to the front when he is healed, their happiness is over. A novel based on Hemingway's experiences in the war, he was a 19 -year -old ambulance driver, almost dying of battle wounds, and having an unhappy affair with an older nurse.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,468 reviews3,637 followers
February 20, 2020
There is something hopeless in love in the time of war...
A Farewell to Arms was the first novel I have read in English and it was the book that has made the very strong impression on me so I can’t recall it without an attack of nostalgia ever since.
And you’ll always love me won’t you? Yes. And the rain won’t make any difference? No.

…till war do us part.
Profile Image for Warwick.
845 reviews14.6k followers
March 16, 2017
In the fall of that year we rented a house in the mountains that looked down across the river to the village below. The water of the river was turquoise and the village had a pretty campanile and beyond it rose more mountains and beyond them still more. The man who owned our cottage lived next door and made his own dry cured sausage and we would go round and eat it by the fire and talk about how fine the sausage tasted. On the hills all around there were deer, and in the evenings we would sit on the balcony of our cottage and wrap ourselves in blankets for the cold, and if we looked one way we would see the deer and if we looked the other way we would see the village down at the bottom of the valley.

The village was called Kobarid but it also had names in other languages. The Germans called it Karfreit and the Italians called it Caporetto and I said to Hannah that it was never a good sign when so many other languages had names for one little village. Sure enough we found a museum in the village dedicated to a big battle that had taken place there during the First World War. The people at the museum pointed at the mountain slopes and I don't remember exactly what they told us but I remember feeling sick and upset and thinking that I ought to know more about what had happened there and why.

The Italian army had gotten through a lot of ambulances during that war and one of the men who drove the ambulances at Kobarid was an American called Ernest Hemingway. Later he wrote a book about it and this is that book. The war parts are very good but gradually they recede into the background and a tragic love story comes to the foreground, and the tragic love story is difficult to enjoy because the woman is so old-fashionedly self-effacing and devoted to the hero that she seems either unrealistic or infuriating to modern readers.

The prose is direct and world-weary and often it sounds fine and ironic and cynical like this:

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

But often it just seems gratuitously pessimistic and this is especially true for the way the book ends. When I went to Kobarid we were very happy. I remember the place very well because we were on the porch of our cottage there when I asked Hannah to marry me. She said yes and our memories of that mountain and that village are very happy ones. This book does not end in the same way and although it is strong and powerful I really wish someone had told me that I should not be reading this ending while my wife is nine months' pregnant.

(Dec 2013)
Profile Image for Agir(آگِر).
437 reviews511 followers
July 20, 2016
این کتاب زاویه دید متفاوتی از جنگ را روایت میکنه
و البته باز قهرمان کتاب مردی است با شخصیتی خاص
افسری آمریکایی در ایتالیا و در بحبوبه جنگ درگیر عشق با پرستاری انگلیسی می شود

صحنه جنگی هم در کتاب کم نیست و همچنین نشان دادن واقعیت جنگ
سربازان و سرگردانی که دنبال فرصتی اند که از جنگ فرار کنند یا مرخصی بگیرند
حتی بخودشون ضربه میزنند تا در بیمارستان بستری بشوند

عشق زیبای فردریک هنری و کاترین بارکلی نقطه اوج داستان بود.این قسمت رو همینگوی عالی در آورده بود و سرشار از احساس بود
ولی از صحنه جنگ و تشریحش اصلا لذت نبردم.بنظرم کمی بیش از حد طولانی شده بود
فک کنم این کتاب برام وداع با همینگوی هم بود
پیرمرد و دریا و این کتابش رو خوندم.دیگه حسی برای خوندن کتاب دیگری از ایشون ندارم
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
December 16, 2015
Once, there was a time when I would have struggled through this one, convinced that since it was a "classic", there must be some redeeming quality to it. I'd have struggled to the bitter end, hating it more and more, and I'd have been disappointed by it even if there was something worthwhile at the end. Because getting there was tedious, boring, painful, and annoying.

This book has a lot of very varied reviews and opinions. Lots of people loved it, lots of people hated it. I can see why. It's a book that some people will definitely like. Masculinity, heavy drinking, etc will naturally appeal to some more than others. The love story aspect will appeal to some that aren't so much into the other stuff, and the war stuff will do for still more, maybe. Usually, the war and the masculinity and stuff would be my thing - but this just didn't do anything for me.

I think that this was due to the writing, and the reading. I didn't like the reader at all. He had a kind of clipped reading style, and since the writing was full of short sentences, it made it hard for me to settle into the reading and listen. A good reader needs a quality that draws a listener in - but this one did just the opposite. I struggled on through about 3 discs and I just could not stand the reader enough to get into the story. And the story wasn't doing much to help. Staccato sentences, back and forth. Lots of pointless dialogue that, I suppose, in the end would have painted a full picture and come together, but I just found myself not caring at all.

And this featured my very least favorite writing trick ever: using dialogue to replace explaining action...
"Here drink this. No all of it. It will do you good!"
"I don't want it. Put it on the table."
"Here - you drink it all up! There's a good boy. You'll see. It'll do you good like I say. No, sit down. Listen to me now."
"Answer the door, I think it's unimportant person number 4 coming to tell us something unimportant. What's he saying?"
"Go sit back down, I'll tell you everything in a minute. Here, drink more of this. Good."

The romance aspects, what little I saw, were just as abrasive and annoying.
"Oh, I love you! Do you love me? Say you love me."
"Yes I love you."
"Oh, you're just saying that! It's the war. You don't mean it."
"Yes, I do."
"No, you don't"
"Yes, really."
"Ok, sure. Because I love you, but you don't have to lie to me."

BLAH! Shut up. Who cares?! I just struggled along, in this three-against-one uphill battle... And they won. I raised my white flag and gave up. No mas, por favor.
Profile Image for Parastoo Khalili.
177 reviews350 followers
July 17, 2020
اگه دنبال کتابی هستید که نویسنده در 400 صفحه شمارو مسخره کنه و بعد از تمام شدندکتاب بنشینید و حرص بخورید، کتاب خوبی رو انتخاب کردید!

ایده ی داستان شاید فقط به درد فیلم‌نامه شدن میخوره و ماجرای عشقی داستان و حتی ماجرای جنگی بسیار آبکی و وحوصله‌سربره.
پس وقتتان را تلف نکنید، فیلم رو ببینید و سمت این داستان نروید
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,635 followers
September 6, 2021

An absolute masterpiece about love and war written by Hemingway at the summit of his powers. We follow Henry, American ambulance driver in WWI at the Italian front between Milan and Venice. He falls in love with Catherine, an English nurse and goes off to the front. While sharing cheese and pasta with his camarades in a trench, he is nearly killed by an Austrian trench bomb. Catherine nurses him back to health, but is pregnant when he is sent back to the front. As the Italians start to retreat after part of the front collapses, Henry gets separated from his driver, nearly gets executed as a deserter, and flees down the frozen river holding on to a branch. He ends up hopping a train to Milan, reuniting with Catherine and fleeing military arrest by crossing into Switzerland with Cat. The story moves so quickly that the pages just fly by.
Hemingway’s terse style and his realistic stoccato dialogues really breath life into the story and draw the reader in. I loved the fishing stories here, the descriptions of his mountain stay in Switzerland, his drunken talks with his friends like Rinaldi and the priest. It is an unforgettable book which exposes the brutality of war and juxtaposes it with the complexities of relationships and becoming a father (or not).

Don't miss my review of the Meyer biography of Hemingway: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Siria.
1,864 reviews1,359 followers
October 7, 2008
I've never read any Hemingway, so I thought to myself, 'Self, that is probably something you should remedy.' And now there are a couple of hours of my life that I will never get back. The macho posturing, the awful dialogue (if it were possible to have excised every word he put into the mouth of Catherine, I would have done so), the misogyny, the sometimes bizarre interactions between people... whatever the hell he was trying to do, for me it read as if everyone was either: 1) Certifiably insane, 2) an alien with no knowledge of human interaction or 3) a certifiably insane alien with no knowledge of human interaction. A vapid book full of vapid people.
Profile Image for Matt.
937 reviews28.6k followers
April 26, 2016
A Farewell to Arms sort of gives you the inkling that Hemingway's death will probably involve a shotgun.

It's just that sad. Front to back, this is one of the more mournful novels I've read. It's about Henry, an ambulance driver in World War I. He is wounded and falls in love with Catherine, a nurse. They exchange odd banter. They fall in love in love during a summer in Milan (but who wouldn't?). He knocks Catherine up, then returns to the front. Unfortunately for him, he is fighting with Italians, and, as the Italians are known to do, he is soon in full retreat. (I don't know why the French get such a bad rap, the Italians haven't won a war since sacking Carthage). Henry is captured by military police and in danger of being executed, but he manages to escape. He reunites with Catherine and, inexplicably, ends up living with her in Switzerland. Things are idyllic for awhile. The lazy, languid life reminiscent of The Sun Also Rises.

Then, of course, life intervenes.

The end is tragic. Heartbreaking. The writing is brilliant, such as in Hemingway's famous line about how the world breaks us all:

We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together. I know that the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started. But with Catherine there was almost no difference in the night except that it was an even better time. If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

There's no cynicism here, just bitterness. It's prototypical Hemingway. The sparseness and terseness interspersed with long, emotion-laden sentences. I place this in the middle of For Whom the Bell Tolls, which ends badly but is full of passion and love, and The Sun Also Rises, which is like an early 20th century The Real World.

Profile Image for Amit Mishra.
234 reviews671 followers
June 26, 2019
This one is pretty classic in nature. The novel set mainly in Wharton Itlay of 1917-18, the story focuses on Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army. He met a young English nurse, Catherine Barkley, at a military hospital and they begin a relationship which gradually becomes passionate.
The story of the romance is set alongside a powerful portrayal of the horrors of war and its threat of the total destruction of civilization.
Profile Image for Hanieh.
68 reviews27 followers
October 8, 2019
بخشي از كتاب
اينطوري است. مي ميري. نمي داني موضوع از چه قرار است. هرگز فرصتش را نداشته اي كه بداني. تو را مي اندازند وسط بازي و قوانين را به تو مي گويند و با اولين خطايي كه از تو بگيرند تو را مي كشند. يا تو را بي جهت مي كشند. اما در نهايت تو را مي كشند. از اين بابت خاطرت جمع باشد. كمي صبر كن تو را هم مي كشند
Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,135 followers
April 3, 2019
For me think was a mediocre historical fiction / romance story set to the back drop of World War. I failed to connect with any of the characters as I listened to this one on audio and it became pretty annoying with the over use of certain words and I didn't engage with any of the dialogue which seemed trivial and never ending.

A story of a young American Frederic Henry who volunteers for service with the Italian Army in World War I and falls in love with his English Nurse.

I am not a fan of "romance Stories" or tales of all consuming love and that is pretty much how I felt about this one, and it wasn't what I was looking for in War novel. It was an ok read for me but certainly not one for my favourites shelf. I just couldn't engage with the characters and I found Catherine's character so annoying and strange. The overuse of certain words and ridiculously long sentences grated on my nerves. The narrator was quite good but because there was such a repetition of certain words I felt he kept over emphasising them.

This wasn't at all what I was expecting from an Ernest Hemingway novel and I picked this one up expecting something quite different and this book just didn't deliver and perhaps I should have paid better attention to the blub of this one as it had too much love story and not enough war action for me.

My favourite fiction novels on World War one are Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks Birdsongand A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry A Long Long Way
Profile Image for E8RaH!M.
179 reviews49 followers
August 6, 2020
کتاب را حدودا دو سال پیش خواندم. من اوج هنر همینگوی رو با این کتاب شناختم. ولی هیچ وقت فرصت یا جرات نکردم نظرم را در موردش بنویسم.
وداع با اسلحه آنطور که شاید همه انتظار داریم سریع و گرم نیست. سرد است چون شخصیت اصلی تحت تاثیر جنگ انگار سنگ شده است. انگار جنگ سلبش کرده. کلا شخصیتها درونی نیستند. همینگوی مثل داستایوفسکی و دولت آبادی جد و آباد افکار شخصیت را روی پته نمی ریزد. خواننده احساس دوربینی دارد که در جای جای فضای فیزیکی داستان نصب شده و تنها تصویر میبینیم. کنش و واکنش و البته گفتگو هایی که آنها هم چندان فیلسوفانه و بزرگتر از دهان شخصیتها نیست. خواننده در به در دنبال این است که حرف دل شخصیت را رک و پوست کنده بشنود. اما در انتها میبینیم پسِ هر سکوت یا حرف بی ربطی احساس و حرف دلی نهفته است. بی نیاز میشویم از شنیدن.
این بر میگردد به شغل همینگوی که گزارشگر جنگ بوده. بخشهایی از داستان این رمان هم گویا نمونه برداری از زندگی خود همینگوی است.
اما. فرای این سبک گزارش گونه، رفتارها و گفتگوهای بیرونی چنان احساسی منتقل میشود که گاهی آدم بغض میکند. از آن بغضهای سنگین.
ابراز احساسات در سرتاسر کتاب سرد است اما تصمیمات و رفتارها چنان عمیق است که میتوان هزاران حرف نگفته را از لابه لای آن بیرون کشید.
اعتراف میکنم فضای داستان کمی مردانه است و رفتار شخصیتها هم همینطور. شاید سلیقه ی برخی از کتابخوان ها خواندن یا شنیدن هر آنچه باشد که در ذهن شخصیت اتفاق می افتد. اما من به شخصه سنگ محک کتاب خوانی ام همین وداع با اسلحه همینگوی است.
صحنه ی پایانی کتاب (سه چهار صفحه ی آخر) یکی از تراژیک ترین صحنه هایی بوده و هست که من در خاطر دارم. رفتارهایی چنین عمیق و تاثیر گذار را هیچ جای دیگری نمیتوان یافت الا دنیای کلمات همینگوی.
پ.ن: ترجمه ی زیبا و وفادار نجف دریابندری هم شایان توجه است.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
May 15, 2011
My second book by Ernest Hemingway. I liked this so much that I cried while finally closing the book.

It must be the way Hemingway used his magic: the vivid descriptions of his locale. The war torn Italian picturesque villa and the use of rain as metaphor for hardship. The ying-yang kind of story: the "man's man" virile American Tenente and the whimsical English-woman Catherine. The contrast between these two lovers is so opposite that's akin to the sun and moon that sometimes exist together in a dreamy late afternoon sky before everything turns dark. However, in the end, the moon ceased to shine and the sun tried to light up the sky but it was raining and the novel ended sad and the sun, being alone, was still lonely. This image was the reason why I cried.

Apart from that sad ending, I also did not enjoy Catherine's delivery of dialogues particularly when she talked to her lover. Their conversations felt like childlike and immature. Also, my edition of this book has so many typographical errors. Paging Arrow Books, the publisher. Please hire a good proofreader. You are doing a great disservice to an otherwise exceptional literary work.
Profile Image for Quo.
292 reviews
November 7, 2021
Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms at times represents the author's still-experimental prose, dedicated to simplicity, or "truth" as he attempted to express it, stripping away the veneer of language by concentrating on a repetition, diction & rhythm that would "evoke the physical quality of the object or experience that is being observed." It is also an often frustratingly monochromatic look at the things that matter most in this novel: war, love & death. However, for those who persevere & settle into the cadence of the novel, the result can be quite exceptional.

This is the story of an American, Lt. Frederic Henry, often called "Tenente" by the Italians in his midst, wounded during the early stages of WWI, before his country entered the war and of the woman he falls in love with after an initial ambivalence, Catherine Barkley, a nurse who tends to him as he undergoes operations & rehabilitation that will lead to further wartime duty in Italy. Because their love affair is often the center of a reader's focus, it is easy to overlook Hemingway's commentary on the almost constant peril & the random violence of war:
I ate the end of my piece of cheese & took a swallow of wine. Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh--there was a flash, as when a blast furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white & went red and on & on in a rushing wind. I tried to breathe but my breathe would not come and I felt myself rush bodily out of myself and out & out & out, all the time bodily into the wind.

I went out swiftly, all of myself, and I knew I was dead and that it had all been a mistake to think you had just died. Then I floated, and instead of going on, I felt myself slide back. I breathed & I was back. I heard someone crying. I tried to move but I could not move. I heard the sound of machine-guns & rifles, saw the star-shells go up & burst & float whitely & rockets going up & heard the bombs, all this in a moment.
There is great detail in the battle scenes, something very important to Hemingway, because while he was very impressed by Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage & wished to play homage to it, Crane had never been anywhere near war or a battle, using only his imagination to craft his tale of the Civil War 40 years after it concluded. By contrast, E.H. aimed to frame his WWI story with exacting particulars, based on actual landscapes & battles within Italy, eliciting bravery, occasional cowardice & what he had come to feel was the sheer folly of men fighting a modern war that seldom involved hand-to-hand combat. Or as Lt. Henry puts it:
I could not stand to hear words like sacred, glorious & sacrifice, words that were slapped up on billposters & proclamations. Now, for a long time, I had seen nothing sacred. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity--not abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of regiments & the dates.
Ultimately, Lt. Henry does (almost magically) find his way back from the scourge of a war that has taken a turn against the Italians he is allied with, with Italians in retreat being shot by other Italians for their apparent lack of bravery. He tears two stars off his uniform & strives to blend into life as a civilian, rejoining his beloved Catherine, with both fleeing to safety in Switzerland via rowboat, again almost miraculously. Yes, it is at times preferable to suspend disbelief when reading a novel, as when listening to a fable!

In a way, the love story of Lt. Henry & Catherine seems at times remote when compared to the devastation of battle, until eventually it no longer does; one drifts along with the characters until they become part of the reader's consciousness, at least in my case. Having accepted Hemingway's descriptions of war, one readily signs on to his concept of love. Lt. Henry & Miss Barkley just seem to blend together until they've become a fully bonded couple, even while not formally married.

But there is also Hemingway's view of death, of the deck being stacked against all mortals from the moment of birth, with the best one can hope for not victory, but merely a temporary stalemate. For in the author's words, standing as a kind of Hemingway credo:
The world breaks every one & afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good & the very gentle & the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
I won't reveal the conclusion of the novel, except to say that there were 39 attempts at an ending, with the final chosen words being: "After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain." This stands as quintessential Hemingway but also like a parody of the author's prose.

A Farewell to Arms was written almost a century ago & evidences a certain time & place. While there are quite definitely reasons to be intolerant of both Ernest Hemingway & his prose, I am often taken aback by some of the venomous comments at G/R by those with an intense hostility or "visceral hatred" (as one reader phrased it) for the author & therefore everything the Nobel laureate wrote, much of which conveys color & energy in a manner that can seem overly simple but which is deceptively so, with the tempo of the language an important part of the story.

*My version of the novel includes a "personal forward" by Patrick Hemingway, the author's son and a "new introduction" by Sean Hemingway, his grandson. **Among the images within my review are: Ernest Hemingway crafting a story; an Italian WWI recruitment poster; an image of a young E.H. & his WWI nurse/love-interest, Agnes von Kurowsky.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,047 reviews2,391 followers
August 19, 2017
"Tell me exactly what happened. Did you do any heroic acts?"

"No," I said. "I was blown up while we were eating cheese."

What can I say that hasn't already been said?

Yes, the man/woman stuff is awkward as hell, with all the "Darlings" and "Say you love me" coming off as so much bad movie dialogue.

But, I loved hearing all the characters give their opinions on the war. The action sequences are compelling, and frequently disturbing.

And, Henry's repartee with Rinaldi is absolutely priceless!

Plus, considering this is a story about war, the book had far more laughs that I was expecting, so here's to you, Papa!

I truly enjoyed listening to the audiobook. John Slattery, who is perhaps best known as Roger Sterling from Mad Men, did a fantastic job, and made the book come to life.
Profile Image for Shaya.
250 reviews324 followers
August 2, 2020
آدمهايي كه گناه ميكنن سليقه خوبي دارن🍂
من واقعا صحنه هاي بين هنري و كاترين رو دوست داشتم،خيلي خوب توصيف كرده بود و صدالبته نجف دريابندري هم به زيبايي ترجمه كرد❤️
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