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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway at his best!
This novel touches on many issues; war, romantic love(without resorting to nauseating sentiment), culture and mortality. Each one is subtley explored with the incisive touch of Hemingway's pen.
Wherever Henry is, whether he is in an Italian ambulance at the front line, canoodling in a hospital bed, or standing in the rain in a deserted street, the reader always...
Published on 9 Jun 2002 by Andrew J. Keir

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not enjoy
I was very disappointed by Farewell to Arms - how did he win Nobel prize for literature? I know it's a sparse style but the vocabulary was so limited that it would suit someone who had difficulty reading. If the only way to describe anything is to say it was "fine" - meals, drink, life - then the reader does not actually learn anything from the adjective. I...
Published 1 month ago by S. M. M. Donaghy


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway at his best!, 9 Jun 2002
By 
Andrew J. Keir "Andrew J Keir" (Abu Dhabi/Largs) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
This novel touches on many issues; war, romantic love(without resorting to nauseating sentiment), culture and mortality. Each one is subtley explored with the incisive touch of Hemingway's pen.
Wherever Henry is, whether he is in an Italian ambulance at the front line, canoodling in a hospital bed, or standing in the rain in a deserted street, the reader always feels that they are right there with him, feeling what he feels, living what he lives.
This is quite simply one of the best books that I have ever read.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anti-War Novel That Also Uncovers Life's Many Meanings, 14 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
This book clearly deserves more than five stars.
A Farewell to Arms is the semi-autobiographical tale of an American lieutenant in the Italian army near the end of World War I. Though the book's action, you will see the gradual distintegration of the hero's commitment to the conflict and his faltering attempts to create a new personna. While this is clearly one of the greatest anti-war books of all time, it transcends that genre to look more directly at the nature of life's challenges and how we meet them. As such, A Farewell to Arms ranks as one of the greatest of all American philosphical novels as well. For Hemingway aficionados, you will be fascinated to see his ornate writing style before he developed his eventual, much-admired spare form. This is stream of consciousness Hemingway at its best.
Lieutenant Henry is a man caught in the drift of events, without knowing what he stands for. He does his duty, but often out of habit rather than principle. When the full force of man and nature turn on him, he reverts to his instincts for self-survival. He wants little to do with the world, except in taking those delights that most please him. In the course of realizing and trying to overcome his emotional weaknesses, he simply isolates himself in new ways. Even love can only touch him when it is defined solely in his own terms.
Hemingway sees personal progress as only being possible through extreme pain. "The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places." That's the good news. The bad news is that "those that will not break it kills." The world kills "the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially."
This theme is carried out by the challenges of being a lieutenant in the ambulance corps, then being wounded in a mortar attack, going through surgery and recovery, dealing with a murderous retreat, and ultimately falling in love and dealing with loss. Lieutenant Henry is increasingly overwhelmed, and finds himself willing to attempt less and less. Although the story does not carry him forward through the rest of his life, you imagine that he remains an emotional cripple from these experiences for the rest of his life . . . having little faith or interest in his fellow humans.
All of Hemingway's characters are emotionally crippled in one way or the other. Even if a shell does not hit them, they will never be the same from their war experiences. Whether they are driven by fear, love, or duty, the result is the same -- a disillusioned numbness that limits their ability to be alive. When pressed by the exigencies of the moment, each retreats to lick his or her wounds . . . cut off effectively from support. Whatever fine or infamous human emotion drives them, also condemns them.
One of the particularly haunting aspects of the book is the portrayal of war as unending and inescapable. A modern reader naturally knows when World War I ended. At the time, people wondered if it would go on for a hundred years. That despair is well captured here. Another unforgettable feature is raising the question of who the enemy really is. Lieutenant Henry discovers that those be befriends, his allies, and nature itself can be even more dangerous to him than the military enemy ever has been. You get a chilling sense of the dark side of civilization that few novels even attempt to portray.
Hemingway left Illinois at 17 to join the Kansas City Star as a reporter. He volunteered with the Red Cross in World War I at 18, first serving on the French front and later with the Italians. He was severely wounded in Italy, and was awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra. The first third of the book probably mirrors his own experiences very closely, and you will find a youthful vividness in those pages that will effectively put you amongst the battles and the boring sameness of waiting in between.
Many have considered what man's inhumanity to man really means. World War I was one of the greatest examples of this terrible tendency. Reading this book provides a good opportunity to reconsider your own views about the meaning of such times in human history, and what the right things are to do. Imagine that you are any of the characters in this book. What could and should you have done differently? What would have been the probable consequences? What would have been the meaning of your decisions and actions? What lessons can you apply from this today?
Basically, this book argues that moral progress only occurs through suffering. How else have you learned? How else could you learn? What does that mean about Hemingway's thesis?
Look for the best . . . as well as seeing the best in the worst.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly fresh novel from 1929 - this edition with several unique features, 22 Oct 2012
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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Never having read A Farewell to Arms before, I was interested to see this new edition, with its cover replicating the first edition published in 1929. I wondered how the book would stand up to the passage of time and whether it would, like so many other books of that era, just seem rather dated. However, I was glad to find myself enjoying reading it and mildly pleased to have read another landmark book from the last century.

As I read Farewell to Arms I was struck by how fresh it still seemed. As a first person account, the narrator Henry shares his story with the reader as it happens. The writing is sparse, without sentiment or emotion and I could easily imagine that I was in the presence of a battle-hardened ambulance driver who saw terrible things every day but didn't think it worth talking about them.

We read discussions between the men about visits to bars and brothels, their complaints about the food and their discussions of the rumours about the battles on the Front. Henry meets an attractive Scottish nurse called Catherine Barkley. He calls on her at the nurses' home, managing to sit with her in the garden and get to know her. He pursues her over the next few days, as his duties allow, and they form a relationship which becomes the backdrop to the other events in the book.

Henry has periods of active service, and, like the author, is badly wounded in the legs. He is sent to hospital in Milan where he slowly recovers, wondering what happened to Catherine. She eventually comes to the hospital and their relationship continues.

By this time they are deeply in love, and the only elements of the book which seemed to have dated slightly are the rather over-romantic conversations between the two lovers, which sounded a little like the dialogue from a 1930s film script.

The book has a sad ending which seemed to me to be in keeping with the rest of the novel, which has a slight air of impending doom about it throughout. We read that Hemingway struggled with the ending of the book so much that he wrote 39 different endings and this edition publishes them together for the first time. I have to say, I didn't spend much time with these as there seemed little point in reading them, but no doubt they will be of interest to Hemingway students.

All through the book it seemed difficult to understand what an American was doing in Italy in that chaotic period but only a few years later, many more people from Britain and America were to go take up arms in the Spanish Civil War, resulting in many more books such as George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics).

As well as the alternative endings, this edition contains photo-facsimiles of Hemingway's manuscript with many crossings-out and corrections. As you can see from the illustrations in this article, the cover is a lovely reproduction of the first edition and will sit well on any bookshelf - this is definitely not a book to be bought in ebook format as you would lose too much of the production itself.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shining example of Hemingway's work, 1 Jun 2006
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
I like Hemingway because his stories are realistic. Life doesn't have many happy endings, but it has moments of great passion, romance and happiness along the way. This book is kind of like that. His short sentences and terse writing style cut right to the core of your emotions and help you feel all this book has to offer. A brilliant place to start your appreciation of one of histories greatest writers.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fond Farewell, 30 May 2007
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This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
The first thing that hits you about this book is the way it's written. The language is bare and sparce, yet somehow successfully evokes the Italian landscape and places a clear picture inside your head. The book is more than the sum of its parts and seems to effect you almost sublimily. Without realising it i found i was almost halfway through the book and had barely put it down.

The book is set during the first world war in Italy and really conveys the pointlessness and harshness of this war and war in general. Of course i have always assumed war to be an awfull experience, but this book really hammers that home like a nail through the head. What it really conveys is how unorganised and shambolic the war was and how no body really knew what they were doing. The soldiers dont seem to have any paticular special training or skills, and seem to have about as much idea as i would in what to do for the best. The book shows that war is just a crazy backward concept that you can never be prepared for.

As well as the war this book also conveys what it is to be young and in love and having a good time amongst friends. Despite the setting, the war was still gangs of young men together and at times you could almost imagine they were just friends on holiday. Hemmingway shows the soldiers drinking and laughing, finding girs, falling in love, and trying to make sure they dont get killed in the process. It created strong unshakable friendships between people. The war was terrible but the things that happened to the soldiers would certainly give you one hell of an adrenalin rush, and are experiences that we'l probably never get close to.

You dont have to be interested in war to read this book, God knows im not. This is a book about becoming an adult and finding out who you really are in life. You could substitute the war for any turbulant event in life that changes how you think and how you see the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not enjoy, 20 Aug 2014
By 
S. M. M. Donaghy "Stephen Donaghy" (Witnesham, nr Ipswich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
I was very disappointed by Farewell to Arms - how did he win Nobel prize for literature? I know it's a sparse style but the vocabulary was so limited that it would suit someone who had difficulty reading. If the only way to describe anything is to say it was "fine" - meals, drink, life - then the reader does not actually learn anything from the adjective. I found the staccato style unengaging and offputting. The narrator's partner, Catherine, was such a cipher that it was hard to care about what happened to her. She might as well have been a doll for all the character that she displayed. The dialogue was realistic but that was to its detriment - it had as much artistic merit as a conversation overheard on a bus.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Style is no substitute for a flawed content, 22 Dec 2007
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
A Farewell To Arms is a book that divides opinion. Whether you are a fan or not you have to accept that Hemingway manages to describe scenes with a rich texture that few writers can match. You can picture every setting.. and smell it and feel it. Hemingway can depict a time and a place with such precision that you feel you are not just viewing a scene like on a stage, but that you are actually there.

There are many similarities between Farewell To Arms and the later work "For Whom The Bell Tolls". Both star an American main character in a European war. Both feature a doomed romance which is immediate and passionate with the threat of imminent death forcing an early intimacy.
However where "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is a gritty study of men and women at war, Farewell is a romantic melodrama with the war as a frequently distant backdrop.

The main characters in Farewell To Arms are obsessed with each other. Both put their relationship before their duty. They flee the war to be together to the complete exclusion of friends, comrades in arms and those who might need their care. This is a story of all consuming love; love tragically lost.

By contrast "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is a war story where the romance is sacrificed to the cause of a greater duty. Perhaps whether you prefer one book or the other is a reflection of how you yourself view the characters. For me the self obsession of the characters in Farewell To Arms is hard to stomach. The main character is a man who runs from the war, lives on money donated by his estranged family and feels no sense of any broader duty. The greatest war in European history is being played out across his morning newspaper whilst he drinks to excess in neutral Switzerland. His partner is a nurse who abandons her post to be with him. They are difficult to like and the tragedy that befalls them is like an appalling event that occurs to someone you barely know and care nothing for.

This lack of engagement is what makes this book so disappointing. As a romantic tragedy it needs us to identify with the characters. Instead we tend to dislike them and are untouched by their fate. By all means read Farewell To Arms. You will enjoy the scenery but the storyline may leave you untouched.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway's romantic masterpiece stands test of time., 12 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Does A Farewell to Arms stand the test of time? Hemingway's autobiographical, dark vision of war is perhaps more in step with Post-Vietnam sensibilities than other World War One literature; the banter between protagonist Lt. Frederick Henry (a tribute to The Red Badge of Courage, whose hero is Henry Frederick) and his roommate, Rinaldi could easily have come from Hawkeye and Trapper. Yet it is the tender love story between Henry and Catherine Barkley which is the soul of the novel, and what keeps readers returning to it for 60 years now. The lustful scenes of nurse Catherine climbing under the covers with her recuperating patient (the details discreetly omitted) seem quaint by today's standards. And Catherine as "fallen woman" no longer plays to today's reader. Yet what could be more romantic than Henry and Catherine fleeing across the lake under cover of darkness to the sanctuary of Switzerland, or more gut-wrenching than Catherine's battle for life on the delivery table? Its often said that you either love Hemingway or hate him. A Farewell to Arms is Hemingway at the top of his game--if you don't love it you clearly fall into the latter category.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of literature, 8 Dec 1998
By A Customer
"A Farewell to Arms" is truly a masterpiece. It leaves you asking questions. An answer to questions is sometimes thrown casually into the narration here and there. The narrator truly shares his experiences with you and does not simply tell a story but takes you into his thought and leaves you to draw some of your own conclusions of human nature and emotion. The first half of the book is about a man in war and the meaningless things that he practises as escape or to duty. He and the book make a transformation to a much more conscious state of emotion and drags you along for the ride. Hemingway's expert descriptiveness puts you into the stage of the story so that you can visualize all of it and he does it with an amazingly minimal amount of words or useless information that so often takes away from many authors effectiveness to convey the feeling of the story. It is beautifully composed so that you want to experience it yourself because you become so entangled in the character's emotions. One of the best pieces I have ever read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of characters enduring the madness of war, 17 Aug 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Farewell to Arms (Paperback)
One of Hemingway's best novels. The characters incorporate the desperation of youth, the insanity and traumatization of war, and the strategy of living day-to-day rather than striving for anything like achievement or satisfaction, which is the effect of the madness of war upon the human soul. It is profoundly sexual book, but it also presents a love story between two individuals that has more depth and sensuality that one would expect from Hemingway. In addition, insights into the behavior of the military, both the allies and the "enemy" are fascinating, marked by the idiocy of human beings caught in any dramatic effort. It is a war story that touches on the humans involved and the devastating effect of battle on the individual. It is a love story that ends in tragedy because it is a passion born of war, not sincerity. It is a commentary on the madness of politics and the indulgence in mass slaughter in order to accomplish nothing. A very meaningful novel from an author in his prime.
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A Farewell To Arms
A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Mass Market Paperback - 18 Aug 1994)
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