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A Farewell to Arms (Scribner Classics)


A Farewell to Arms (Scribner Classics) Cover

ISBN13: 9780684837888
ISBN10: 0684837889
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The best American novel to emerge from World War I, 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. Hemingway's frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto — of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized — is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was 30 years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.


By turns romantic and harshly realistic, Hemingway's story of a tragic romance set against the brutality and confusion of World War I cemented his fame as a stylist and as a writer of extraordinary literary power. A volunteer ambulance driver and a beautiful English nurse fall in love when he is wounded on the Italian front.

About the Author

Ernest Hemingway ranks as the most famous of twentieth-century American writers; like Mark Twain, Hemingway is one of those rare authors most people know about, whether they have read him or not. The difference is that Twain, with his white suit, ubiquitous cigar, and easy wit, survives in the public imagination as a basically, lovable figure, while the deeply imprinted image of Hemingway as rugged and macho has been much less universally admired, for all his fame. Hemingway has been regarded less as a writer dedicated to his craft than as a man of action who happened to be afflicted with genius. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Time magazine reported the news under Heroes rather than Books and went on to describe the author as "a globe-trotting expert on bullfights, booze, women, wars, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, and courage." Hemingway did in fact address all those subjects in his books, and he acquired his expertise through well-reported acts of participation as well as of observation; by going to all the wars of his time, hunting and fishing for great beasts, marrying four times, occasionally getting into fistfights, drinking too much, and becoming, in the end, a worldwide celebrity recognizable for his signature beard and challenging physical pursuits.

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JulesH, May 15, 2011 (view all comments by JulesH)
Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms is a novel set in WWI Italy in the years 1916-1917. In this tragic romance, Lieutenant Frank Henry, an American ambulance driver in the Italian army, falls in love with Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. The book includes gruesome scenes of war and mature sexual issues, making it suitable for upper-level high school courses and above. A Farewell to Arms denounces the concepts of honor and glory associated with war, emphasizing the true nature of physical pain and destruction. Hemingway’s blunt style serves to accentuate this theme, conveying much to readers in few words.
This semi-autobiographical novel was first published in 1929, at the height of success for World War I novel. Parts of the book parallel Hemingway’s personal experiences as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy. Similar to Henry, Hemingway himself was gravely wounded on the front. During his recovery in Milan, he fell in love with a nurse who took care of him. Their relationship came to an end upon Hemingway’s return to the United States. Inspiration for other characters is also drawn from Hemingway’s friends and acquaintances during the war. A Farewell to Arms was hugely successful upon publication, securing Hemingway’s financial future. It is the most distinguished American novel to emerge from World War I.
This novel is divided into 5 books, each encompassing important developments in the doomed love between Henry and Catherine. As the story opens, readers learn that Henry is an American ambulance driver for Italy on the front line between Italy and Austria. His friend Rinaldi introduces him to an English nurse, Catherine Barkley who is grieving the loss of her fiancé. A romance is sparked as Catherine tries to occupy herself and Henry is interested in sex. Henry is wounded in the legs by a mortar shell and moved to a hospital in Milan. Catherine transfers to the hospital to take care of him and a deep relationship starts to form. Over the next several months, Catherine and Henry fall in love. As fall nears, Catherine informs Henry that she is three months pregnant. They pledge devotion to each other and he is sent back to the front where the war is going badly for Italy.
German troops break through the lines and the Italian army starts a massive retreat. Henry and three other ambulance drivers make their way back, encountering friendly fire and blocked roads. Henry’s morality is called into question after he shoots a fleeing engineer in cold blood. Italian officers are then being rounded up and executed by Italian police for retreating. Henry escapes, hops a train and makes it back to Catherine who is in Stresa. The two escape to Switzerland together, rowing all night in a borrowed boat. They are granted visas and settle in a small town for the winter. In the spring, Catherine goes into labor. Needless to say, events do not turn out as Henry hopes.
In this novel, Hemingway questions the validity of abstract ideas such as honor and glory in the midst of such tangible suffering. Henry says, “I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain…I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity”(184-185). This quote emphasizes the true nature of physical pain and destruction. In this novel, nothing about war is good and no goodness comes out of it. Everyone involved suffers, from soldiers to priests to children on the street to the very landscape. Henry is a Realist- he believes that politicians who idealize war are naïve to the true nature of human conflict. Hemingway also focuses on the relationship between love and pain. He suggests that the first is not possible without the second because humans are mortal and our fate is inevitably out of our control.
Reoccurring motifs throughout the novel are the perceptions of masculinity and femininity. Henry, Rinaldi, and other soldiers are portrayed as robust, lustful, and strong. Most of them simply use women for sexual pleasure. Henry shows no weakness, even when he is gravely wounded. Very little emotion is expressed through Hemingway’s writing. Instead, it must be inferred by readers. In the novel, the priest is ridiculed and looked down upon for being too soft. On the other hand, Catherine and her friends are often weeping, relying on their men for support. They are shown as much more emotionally unstable, much less complex characters. This can be seen as an extension of Hemingway’s views of the two sexes.
This book is a very successful work of art. Hemingway’s simple, blunt style burns images and feelings into the reader’s mind. As much is conveyed with what is not said as with what is said. His insights on war and on the concepts of love and pain are profound and ring true. For some, parts of the book may be difficult to read. The abuse of alcohol seems almost to be condoned, along with the exploitation of women. Hemingway portrays of men as the dominant, stronger, more complex sex and women as their dependent, simple-minded counterparts. That being said, the book has some very important messages. It is worth reading both to explore the themes of war and the ideas of masculinity and femininity.
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Product Details

Hemingway, Ernest
, Ernest
New York :
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
World War, 1914-1918
War stories
World War, 1914-1918 -- Fiction.
General Fiction
General Fiction
War & Military
Literature-A to Z
nurse, the front, europe, the sun also rises, italy, WWI, novel, catherine barkley, frederic henry, rinaldi, classic, american novel, ambulance corp, george peele, expat, lost generation, in love and war
Edition Description:
Classic Edition
Scribner Classics
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
April 1997
Grade Level:
9.25 x 6.12 in 18.97 oz

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Farewell to Arms (Scribner Classics) New Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780684837888 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , By turns romantic and harshly realistic, Hemingway's story of a tragic romance set against the brutality and confusion of World War I cemented his fame as a stylist and as a writer of extraordinary literary power. A volunteer ambulance driver and a beautiful English nurse fall in love when he is wounded on the Italian front.
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