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A Farewell to Arms [Paperback]

Ernest Hemingway
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (291 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1995 0684801469 978-0684801469 Reprinted edition
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 thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

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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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Novel Of Love and War June 27 2005
A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, classically combines love, misery, seduction, and sorrow all in one historic novel. This wonderful novel depicts the harsh realities of war among two lovers entangled in the mist. The main character, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, and his lover, Nurse Catherine Barkley, initially have a relationship consisting of games, illusions, and fantasies. This cleverly ties in with the war that currently encompasses Henry, World War I. The blending of these aspects results in one of Hemingway's greatest novels.

Lieutenant Henry lives his daily life as an ambulance driver for the army. Disillusioned by the war, he meets an English nurse, Barkley, who mourns for her dead fiancé. They commence a game of seduction, each with their own reasons for playing it. Barkley, psychologically damaged from the death of her fiancé, struggles to push the history behind her while Henry tries to stay as far away from the war as possible. After a little while together, Barkley brings up the game they play by saying, "This is rotten game we play, isn't it" (31)? Henry retorts that he "treated seeing Catherine very lightly" (41).
Embodying the stereotype of the testosterone-fed male, Henry also looks for sex from Miss Barkley. He yearns for pleasure in a world filled with despair and death. As the novel progresses, his accounts of the war decline in quality and quantity. Accounts of the war decrease and become less detailed, showing that he continually bothers less with the war. Henry changes from a man living with the war to a man only interested in himself and anything directly related, including Catherine Barkley.

The relationship between the two lovers changes as time passes by as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hardest Part is Saying Farewell... Dec 22 2006
This is the first Hemingway novel I've read, and I found it very compelling. The book places Henry, a young American ambulance driver in the Italian army, and Catherine Barkley, a beautiful nurse in the war who has recently lost her love in the Battle of the Somme. The two meet by chance, and what seems to be an outlet to release sexual gratification soon becomes much more.

This novel isn't particularly fast paced, nor is it hard to follow. The purpose of Hemingway's simplistic dialogue is to show realism in love during times of war and optimism in love where there seems to be none. The couple delude themselves at times, believing only what they want to believe in order to cope with the anguish that war brings.

You have to read through the whole novel to truly appreciate Hemingway's masterpiece. The novel has a moving ending that still rivals its modern day counter-parts.

To those of you that like action, or melodramatic dialogue, steer clear of this book. But to those of you who are interested in reading realistic dialogue and love in dangerous times, do yourself a favor and read A Farewell to Arms.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A story for another time Aug. 17 2014
By Maurice A. Rhodes TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's many years since I first read this, over 60. I had forgotten all but the nighttime flight up the lake into Switzerland. Perhaps Hemingway was of that mind but I never have fathomed why anyone in the First War would have voluntarily joined the Italian Army to supervise ambulance drivers. Or why anyone would have gone to Spain to fight in war not their own. But that was Hemingway - his story was that the evils of war was everyone's business. In this story there is essential courage and dedication until the realities of war (any war is a vicious interlude in our lives) bring out the realities and barbarism that comes over individual men when every moment could be life or death. And I do not find it difficult that either Henry or Catherine in the midst of a passionate discovery of each other would eventually flee to the safety of Switzerland. I found Rinaldo unnecessary to the story and somehow offensive; on the other hand, I found the Count delightful with his two bottles of champagne a day at 94, hoping to reach 100. For me, there were many sections that were long and drawn out far beyond what was requited in the story - but that is Hemingway and he is the one with the Nobel and the Pulitzer.

But lurking under and alongside this story there is cruelty and sadness that Hemingway cannot seem to evade, and while he tries to make it a noble sacrifice at first, it later descends into tragedy. So far in my re-reading of Hemingway he has been excellent at turning a beautiful and passionate love into a hopeless tragedy. And at this distance, hopeless and pointless, although a five star hopeless and pointless. .
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Ernest Hemingway has done it again with an excellent book. A Farewell to Arms is perhaps Hemingway's greatest work. The book follows the events concerning Henry, a young man who volunteered to work for the Italian army. But when he discovers his true love, he faces a major decision that could radically change the course of his life. The character development is second-to-none, and Hemingway used his signature style of the book, anti-climatic situations. One of my favorite parts of the book is the anti-climatic end of the third and most climatic part of the book, where the main character is laying down in as a stowaway in a train compartment. (Don't worry, I didn't give anything away). The only flaw of the book was that it was very difficult to understand the hidden symbolism mentioned in the book. I probably would not have realized many of the hidden symbolic pieces without reading Cliff's Notes. I surely recommend the book; yet there is a reading enhancement and a much deeper understanding of the book when read with Cliff's Notes.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it again!!
A great novel that I was anxious to read again after a very long lapse. A necessary read after the WWI celebrations, This book underlines the awful waste and futility of that War.
Published 1 month ago by J. Holmes
1.0 out of 5 stars A Farewell to Arms.
I read this book as part of the english curriculum in Grade 11. Apparently this book as a classic. Why? The book is a piece of crap. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2007 by Holton
3.0 out of 5 stars Do you think I'm a good book, darling?
"Oh, do say I'm a good book, darling", she said.
"Yes, you are a wonderfully lovely book", he said
"I am a wonderful book aren't I? Read more
Published on March 3 2006 by Martin Ellison
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Novel
This is a fantastic novel that is very easy to get into. Hemmingway's short, descriptive sentences offer a style uncanny to any other's and they clash very effectively with his... Read more
Published on May 9 2005 by Miguel Morrissette
4.0 out of 5 stars Arms and the Man
In spite of being well written, I take a star away from the book for one single reason: even though I can understand the stressing circumstances under which this love develops,... Read more
Published on March 6 2005 by ThomsEBynum
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of life and death
Ernest Hemingway beautifully manages to take us through the ordeals a young man experiences in life. Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by T. Melhado
4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars
In spite of being well written, I take a star away from the book for one single reason: even though I can understand the stressing circumstances under which this love develops,... Read more
Published on June 27 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars A classic, but...
I've heard it said before that you either love Hemingway or you hate him. In the past, I was a staunch supporter of the 'hate' side, but after reading A Farewell to Arms, I moved... Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by Sabra
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story, tightrope ending
For a long time I didn't appreciate Hemingway because I had been reading mostly post-modern authors who are heavy on adjectives and irony and hyper-stylistic phrasing, and because... Read more
Published on May 27 2004
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