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It tolls for cheese,
This review is from: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Paperback)This is mediocre, overblown late Hemingway. The prose lacks the clarity and force of his early works. The careful use of repetition within sentences gives way to piling on clause after clause, with ands and ands and ands, that aspire to some sort of Biblical grandeur but end up collapsing under their own lack of content.
From the man who, as Dwight Macdonald said, essentially invented realistic dialogue, we get all sorts of hilariously stilted And-God-said-to-Abraham pronouncements. One ludicrous sequence I remember was the gypsy woman telling Maria about how the earth will move only three times when making love. This is delivered without a smirk: Ernest has, at this point, lost the sense of humor that made the bitterness of the earlier books easier to bear.
I wondered whether he was trying to recreate the cadences of Spanish in the dialogue that read so clumsily but, since I have never come across sequences like this in any other novel in Spanish, I'm guessing that people talk in Spanish just like the rest of us do, and that bad writing is bad writing in any language.
I'm lucky that teachers didn't force this book or Old Man and the Sea on me in school, because I may have wondered what all the fuss was about. A genius isn't necessarily a genius for his entire life-forget necessarily, isn't USUALLY-and even the most talented writers often have the shortest of windows: The Sun Also Rises, the short stories, and to a lesser extent A Farewell to Arms. (The earth moves three times.) That was his window. The light comes through the glass and it's good.