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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Novel Of Love and War
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,...
Published on June 27 2005 by Leslie A. Lanier

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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 to the 'this is better than some things, but not what I'd choose first' side. In other words, I appreciate his talent and what his style did for modern writing, but it's still not something...
Published on June 21 2004 by Sabra


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Novel Of Love and War, June 27 2005
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
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. Their relationship progresses from an illusion to actual feelings of love. "We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together" (249). Apparently Henry believed love existed when two people felt as they did together. It indirectly affects the war for Henry because as the relationship consumes more of his life, his unwilling grip to war weakens. The importance of it decreases as Barkley's significance increases to him. As time goes on, Henry turns into a man who prioritizes a greater love for Catherine. He throws away his integrity and runs from the army, showing the shifts in his list of priorities. War only existed as something in his way.

This anti-war novel clearly convinces all about the unsympathetic truths of World War I or, more simply, war in general. "The West front did not sound so good...I did not see how it could go on" (118). Throughout the course of the novel, Henry faces the deaths of many of his companions. Upon realizing his love, Catherine Barkley, now must stand at the brink of death, Lieutenant Henry grimly accepts the truth. "They killed you in the end. You could count on that. Stay around and they would kill you" (327). In all his days in the war, he never realizes the death surrounding him until the person he cares for most begins to slip from his grasp.
Hemingway, in his novel, teaches others the psychological features of people, interweaving it with the innuendos of the darkness of war so readers cannot forget the environment and setting that the two main characters feel trapped in. He gives others a refreshing breath from society by denouncing materialism. The idea of denouncing materialism ideally fits in psychologically with the ongoing war. He urges others to reconsider their materialistic priorities for something more genuine. Hemingway never made these materialistic possessions important. Nature, one of the things he embraced, clearly shows its importance when he felt it necessary to write, "The first cool nights came, then the days were cool and the leaves on the trees in the park began to turn color" (133). He felt it necessary to describe the colored canvas produced by the changing of the surrounding trees as autumn came.

As Richard Schickel once said, "A great novel is concerned primarily with the interior lives of its characters as they respond to the inconvenient narratives that fate imposes on them." Throughout the novel, Hemingway remains constant in keeping up the realistic atmosphere he introduces in the beginning and how it affects Henry's life. This romantic literature never ceases to be unfair to the readers' high expectations of works by Ernest Hemingway. As a highly popular and recommended novel, it lives up to the just raves. Pick up a copy of this thoughtful, beautifully written novel. Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Hemingway, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition," a somewhat raw, but oddly engaging little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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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 review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Arms and the Man, March 6 2005
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Hardcover)
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, thorough out the novel I felt that Henry was still a shallow man, without the resolve to take a firm course of action. Neither he nor the nurse are very likable, and the novel is permanently permeated by that sense of nothingness, by the nefarious existentialism that influenced much of last century's literature and which, I understand, is a characteristic of much of Hemingway's work. The novel is good but character-development fails and in the end, it is just a sad, crude story. Compare this with the manly, deeply moving attitude of "The Old Man and the Sea"'s main and only human character towards life and you'll appreciate that Hemingway was capable of a better tale.
Also recommended: OLD MAN AND THE SEA and McCrae's THE CHILDREN'S CORNER
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of life and death, July 18 2004
By 
T. Melhado "Lea espanol" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
Ernest Hemingway beautifully manages to take us through the ordeals a young man experiences in life. I am 14 and recently my dad past away, and as I read the book I was touched and amazed by Hemingway description of death. Especially at the end I found it impossible not to commiserate with narrator's ordeal with death.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars, June 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
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, thorughout the novel I felt that Henry was still a shallow man, without the resolve to take a firm course of action. Neither he nor the nurse are very likable, and the novel is permanently permeated by that sense of nothingness, by the nefarious existentialism that influenced much of last century's literature and which, I understand, is a characteristic of much of Hemingway's work. The novel is good but character-development fails and in the end, it is just a sad, crude story. Compare this with the manly, deeply moving attitude of "The Old Man and the Sea"'s main and only human character towards life and you'll appreciate that Hemingway was capable of a better tale.
Also recommended: OLD MAN AND THE SEA and McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, But Difficult to Understand Deeper Symbolism, June 25 2004
By 
"swagneraia" (Long Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars A classic, but..., June 21 2004
By 
Sabra (Minnesota, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
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 to the 'this is better than some things, but not what I'd choose first' side. In other words, I appreciate his talent and what his style did for modern writing, but it's still not something that's utterly enjoyable to me.
A Farewell to Arms is written in classic Hemingway style: sparse, often drab, and littered with often confusing conversations which have to be read three times in order to sort out who said what. A Farewell to Arms is written from the viewpoint of Frederick Henry, a young American in the Italian army during WWI. The book follows Henry's relationship with Catherine Barkley, a young nurse, as well as his life in the Italian army.
A Farewell to Arms is a grim book. I felt very 'gray' when reading this novel; the work in its entirety points to the brutal realities of war and the frailty of anything in the face of it. This novel is semi-autobiographical, as Hemingway himself served as an ambulance driver in the Italian army, and this personal experience seems to have lent Hemingway the ability to very clearly capture WWI.
The parts I enjoyed most were the stream-of-consciousness passages, for which Hemingway has a particular talent. The genius of these passages is that Frederick Henry's drunken stream-of-consciousness is written much differently than his sleepy stream-of-consciousness.
The main reason I didn't find this book particularly enjoyable is that I couldn't find a connection to the main characters. Frederick Henry came off as a bit stiff and average to me; there was nothing particularly engrossing about him to make me care whether he lived happily ever after or got blown to kingdom come. Critics have also pointed to Hemingway's lack of dynamic female characters, and I found Catherine Barkley to be no exception. Beautiful and submissive, she easily falls for Frederick Henry, who in my opinion is no prize.
So there you have it. There is no argument that A Farewell to Arms is classic literature, and with good cause, but I maintain that if you're looking for something really entertaining, this novel is not the place to start.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story, tightrope ending, May 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Hardcover)
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 of this Hemingway's narrative seemed rather oversimplistic and stylistically flat. But eventually what you come to realize with Hemingway is that his pared-to-the-bone style has it's purpose, and that purpose is for the reader to discover the subtext between the lines which envelopes the story's conciousness. Hemingway doesn't control our imagination with vast flurries of adjective phrasing, rather he lays out the essentials of a situation and allows, as in poetry, our imagination to do the rest. For example in this book Hemingway doesn't describe his main characters in great detail. The narrator's tone and the way characters react to his authority suggest he is about thirty, yet the nurses all call him a "boy" suggesting he is the same age as most of the soldiers, 18-22. Catherine often seems the same age as the narrator, but we learn that she has had an 8-year relationship with an Italian, suggesting she's somewhat older than the narrator. Eventually you figure it all out but the thing is Hemingway seldom hands these details over, he leaves it to the reader to glean such things through dialogue and character interaction. For example, there is a particular point in the story where Catherine has some "news" for the narrator, but a reader who has figured Catherine out, the way she talks and the way she beats around the bush, will realize this news before the narrator's character figures it out. Anyway, I do think simplification is an underappreciated skill in Hemingway's hands, at least among his critics.
This is much more of a love story than a a war story. Yes, it is set in WWI, but the war is essentially a backdrop for the devil-may-care romance. (I've heard this described as an anti-war story, which is silly. Hemingway served in WWI and WWII and seemed to feel quite strongly that there was a genuine purpose for war...) As a love story, though, there is plenty of tension. We are pretty sure of the narrator's sentiments toward Catherine but Catherine seems somehow too perfect for the narrator, so that we're always expecting something to go wrong... and the ending keeps us on a real tightrope.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of Hemingway's best, May 21 2004
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
A Farewell to Arms is Hemingway's masterpiece about WWII where an Italian soldier finds love overseas in Europe. Henry, the main character, is an American serving in the Italian Army. One of his good friends, who also is a soldier, introduces him to a girl named Catherine Berkley. Catherine is one of the most beautiful women that Henry has ever laid eyes on, and they fall in love. Henry gets wounded in action and has to stay at a hospital for a few months. Catherine is a nurse, so she transfered to a new hospital so she could be with Henry. I really enjoyed reading about their experiences in the hospital. Henry wasn't able to do a whole lot, but since Catherine was a nurse, she could put him in a wheel chair and take him out on a walk so he could get some fresh air. Other parts of this novel that I enjoyed were when Henry and the other soldiers waste time in their bunkhouse. The time they spent over in Europe was spent either drinking or fighting. Usually they were doing more drinking than fighting, however, and that made the novel interesting. If you're looking for a hardcore war novel that goes in depth with blood and gore, this probably isn't what you're looking for. If you're interested in reading a story of romance with a war in the middle, then I suggest you read this. I love how Hemingway writes and have read a few other of his works. If you enjoy any of his other famous novels, then you should definitely try this one. It wasn't too tough a read, and it's not that long either. The novel caught my attention right away, and I couldn't put it down. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Farewell To Arms, May 5 2004
By 
brad purdy (Pound Ridge, New York United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
This book was a great example of the writing exhibited by Ernest Hemmingway. The story was one of great tragedy that followed a young man through his tour of duty in Italy during WW1. There was a slight hill in the book where one was lost in details of him in the hospital. However, for the most part the book was exciting and kept me interested. It is a great book and truly an interesting view on war on the European front. Hemmingway used this man's view to depict his views about war from when he served during WW1. For as the main character goes through pain and suffering in the war Hemmingway seems to be showing some of his own experiences in his tour of duty. Overall this book is a good read and can shed light on an interesting topic while keeping you attached to a strong story as well.
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A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Paperback - June 1 1995)
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