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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly fresh novel from 1929 - this edition with several unique features
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...
Published on 22 Oct. 2012 by Thomas Cunliffe

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An exciting read, but not for the romance
I read this book for a piece of coursework based around how feelings of love are elevated in the conditions of war and I really feel this book shows that perfectly. It follows a young couple during the First World War as they battle against the odds to keep their love alive.

What I like about this book:

1) It was exciting. This book definitely had...
Published on 28 Nov. 2011 by Emmy


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4.0 out of 5 stars War -- huh! What is it good for?, 27 Feb. 2013
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
Frederick Henry is an American serving in the Italian Army in WWI as an ambulance driver. He meets an English nurse, Catherine Barkley, at a nearby institution, and they fall instantly in love. She becomes pregnant shortly afterwards. With some complications, he returns to the front, loses the men under his command, deserts and joins a massive Italian retreat. Due to anti-officer feeling, he is almost executed, but escapes to rejoin Catherine. They row across the lake to freedom in Switzerland, and live happily for a while, until she goes into labour. The baby is still-born and Catherine dies following the Caesarean section.

The ending is desolating, but its impact mixed. Catherine is never a fully three-dimensional character, but seems typical of the somewhat insipid, man-pleasing women that Hemingway has his heroes fall for. And like the others, she has a doomed air about her from the start. Yet the other descriptions throughout the book - of places, people, conversations and thoughts, and especially military actions, and what happens at the hospital, are so vivid and believable that the death of the heroine is indeed devastating. Henry has already lost everything else - his belief in the war, his job and his rank, his friends and the country he was living in - and appears to have no sustaining values in a world in which the army priest is an object of open derision. A colleague is shot dead by his own side; the soldiers turn on their officers; the local cafe-owner harbours deserters. Henry recalls putting a log covered with ants into a fire and watching how they behaved faced with death on all sides. He feels that like them he is at the mercy of something far more powerful and indifferent than he can imagine, let alone understand or influence. He ends up living on money sent by his parents.

Not in the same league as For Whom the Bell Tolls, being more of an odyssey than an iliad, but a very powerful novel, nonetheless, and written in the most beautiful, diamond-like sentences.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An exciting read, but not for the romance, 28 Nov. 2011
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
I read this book for a piece of coursework based around how feelings of love are elevated in the conditions of war and I really feel this book shows that perfectly. It follows a young couple during the First World War as they battle against the odds to keep their love alive.

What I like about this book:

1) It was exciting. This book definitely had moments where it was a true page turner, from jumping onto moving trains, escaping from soldiers and crossing the lake to Switzerland in a storm. Much of Hemingway's direct, `in-the-moment' style really conveyed the excitement and pace of these scenes.

2) The relationships between men/the `bromances'. There were some really great male characters in this novel with interesting, funny and often real relationships with each other. They showed their love for each other in heart-warming acts of bravery and generosity and made this story much more readable and relatable.

3) Presentation of war. I did feel Hemingway (perhaps from past experience) did a good job at presenting just how brutal and senseless war was. During the Italian army's retreat when the protagonist Frederic must travel on foot across the country. We see the army's formation crumble as men begin to lose their nerves and their morality. Even the cool-headed Frederic feels his killing of a deserting solider is justified in these dire circumstances. It was in these scenes the grim bleakness of this book really showed in a contrast to its merrier opening chapters.

Things I wasn't so keen on:

1) Hemingway's writing style...for the most part. As I mentioned above Hemingway's `in-the-moment' way of writing was great for action scenes but certainly took some getting used to. It often made me feel more detached from Frederic. Both Frederic and his lover Catherine show stoic qualities and with Hemingway's blunt narrative I felt a lot of the emotion was lost in some scenes.

2) Catherine. And women in general in this book, although this is a point often brought up about Hemingway's novels - Catherine is overly sweet, submissive and dependent on Frederic's love. It got to the point where I just found her annoying and couldn't really feel much sympathy for her. As the novel progressed I warmed to Frederic, who despite being an alcoholic and a bit of a fraud at times, was often brave, modest and kind. Perhaps it's just the generational gap between myself and a Scottish nurse living during WW1, but I found her too one-dimensional to really be rooting for this romance.

However in general I really did enjoy this novel and while I may not have rooted for the romantic aspect of the story I found it exciting in Frederic's adventures and insightful in its treatment of the strong link between love and pain. Perhaps the romance was not meant to be supported and cheered on by the reader as it was only a form of escapism from the grim realities of war. Frederic drinks continuously and before meeting Catherine sleeps with many women, which he then lies about to her. For Frederic and Catherine maybe their `passionate' romance is only a way of numbing the mental and physical pain of war.After all, the motif of games repeats throughout the novel from games of pool and bridge to the game of courtly love that Frederic and Catherine `play' to distract themselves from their own pains.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A separate peace..., 5 Feb. 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
Like several other reviewers, I have just re-read this "high school classic" after, gulp, 40 plus years. The passage of time, plus the world events that have occurred in the interim have made parts of the novel much more understandable. For example, attacks by Croatian units, that I had never heard of, and no, Bosnians are not Christians (well, as we know now, many of them are not). This novel was written during the period when World War I was still called The Great War, and only 10 years before the Second one started. It is based on Hemingway's own experiences in the Italian Army. During the "Great War" Italy was on the side of the allies, and the actual fighting described takes place on a front only lightly covered in books written in English, the one between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hemingway invariably refers to the later as simply the "Austrians," although the troops could be from Bosnia or the present day Czech Republic.

The book has been billed as the anti-war novel of WW I, and with statements like: "There is a class that controls a country that is stupid and does not realize anything and never can. That is why we have this war." (p 51) There is little doubt that it is that, a statement that unfortunately wears all too well with time. The futility and stupidity of the war shows throughout the novel. I would have to remove the definite article however, since there were numerous other anti-war novels produced, with All Quiet on the Western Front perhaps the most famous, but also Jules Romains' Verdun (Prion Lost Treasures) and Graves' Goodbye to All That (Penguin Modern Classics)

Other passages are equally relevant today: "Perhaps wars weren't won any more. Maybe they went on forever. Maybe it was another Hundred Years' War." (p 118)

The novel has also been billed as a love story; in fact, in an extreme bit of hyperbole, the blurb on the back of my Scribner Library copy called it: "one of the most moving love stories ever written." The purported love is between two foreigners swept up by the war in Italy, the American, Tenente Henry, who is serving in the ambulance corps, and the Scot, Catherine Barkley, who is serving as a nurse. The love seems to bloom when Henry is wounded, and in one of the clichés of war, is nursed back to health by Barkley, who becomes pregnant in the process. Hemingway is famous for his laconic prose, but in the case of this relationship, I found it falling flat, more like the inarticulate grunts of "Joe Six Pack." Barkley's insipid "coo-cooing" should be an embarrassment for any woman (or man, in touch with his feelings, as the expression goes) to read. It simply did not work for me.

Henry did what soldiers in other pointless, futile wars (and aren't they all?) dream of doing, from scenes in Doctor Zhivago [1965] [DVD] to Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato (Flamingo); he simply walked away. He made his own "separate peace." Other reviewers have stated his reason was his love for Barkley. I found this to be only tangential - the real reason seemed to be the treatment received by the retreating front-line Italian troops by what we called REMF's in Vietnam, the Rear-Echelon M... F... But his subsequent life seemed as improbable as O"Brien's "Going After Cacciato," which was at least written as a fantasy (and one I shared!) It is so nice to not have money worries, and for mysterious checks to always show up on time, three standard deviations outside the norm for actual troops in a war.

Overall, Hemingway led a life of variety and adventure, capturing much on paper, and introducing a new style to novels. This novel may be the more famous, but I personally found To Have & Have Not to be the more realistic and well-written, and thus will only venture a 4-star for this one.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on July 10, 2009)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tragic story of war and its effect on young people., 17 July 1999
By A Customer
I do not understand Hemingway's genius. I agree he can tell a story masterfully with an economical use of words. (He probably could have written Conrad's 'The Heart of Darkness' in 500 words or less). But his characters seem so unemotional and he overuses certain words. How many times did he use the word darling? I liked ' Farewell' much better than ' The Sun Also Rises', which I despised. Frederick and Katherine were likable charcters thrown into situations that they could not control. I have not given up on Heminghway and I plan to read some of his later works.
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4.0 out of 5 stars War and Peace?, 10 Jan. 2015
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
Book Three in the Hemingway trek is this wartime romance with a hard core. It really is a novel of two halves - the wartime stuff, which is brutal, natural, funny and rewarding Then there is the central romance with the nurse Catherine, which skims between the credible and the incredible. There is no doubt some reality to both parts for Hemingway, but for me, the war is better than the peace. In this third book as in the Sun Also Rises, there is no plot as such, just events that create a story.The American ambulance driver in the Italian army - unexplained, of course - is badly wounded, recovers, falls in love with his British nurse and then, when the s**t hits the fan escapes with her to Switzerland (very powerful scenes these). It all ends badly.

Once again, it is the style that makes the story work. In this book, Hemingway excels in depicting the inherent strangeness and horror of war, the comradeship of men and the sheer terror of inexplicable events. Forget causation and story arc - there is nothing apparently artificial in the story here. I found the romantic part hard to take, but it had that same quality of naturalness the rest of the book had. No wonder the Great War left a lost generation. Moral certainty and order were blown to bits, along with millions of men. It is sad and profound, unsettling and unsparing.

Like Hemingway, I guess. Not a knockout, but a TKO.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The inevitable, yet beautiful ending., 1 Sept. 2013
This review is from: A Farewell To Arms (Mass Market Paperback)
There was a moment after reading Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms where I sat on my bed and thought, "Wow. That really sucks." How awful it is to lose everything you had going for you. I knew something was fishy as I approached the end of the book. Something is going to happen, inevitably.

The story ends in this awful despair; it leaves you in the "woods" thinking, and thinking, and thinking, and finally, it induces you to this awful feeling. At the same time that this feeling hits you, you realize the silent strength of Hemingway and how great a writer he is. His work is tremendously moving; it can leave you thinking for a week. Even now, I approach the same feeling I witnessed.

Some say they feel "Hemingway is monotonous in his use of war." Though war seems to be a common theme in his work, I don't see any other way for his stories to live up to what they are. After all, the stories are impacted by war, not constructed by it.

I am biased towards the great classic works like this, but I find the greatest motivation as a writer from them. I think subversive, powerful, and haunting works, like A Farewell to Arms, will be the foundation of our writings today and tomorrow. Plus, I have always enjoyed stories about (*spoiler*) the death of a beautiful woman; not because I want them to die, just that I find them a great tragedy to follow.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal and realistic, 3 Jan. 2015
This is a very bleak picture of an American acting as an ambulance officer serving with the Italian army during the First World War. Written in Hemingway's characteristic terse, brief style, there are some fabulous characters here to flesh out the story and the camaraderie between the soldiers is wonderfully realised. The terseness of the style makes the picture Hemingway is portraying seem all the more grimly realistic. The story commences with a love story as Lieutenant Henry falls in love with English nurse Catherine Barclay. Then he is wounded and she nurses him for a while (well that's one name for it; it's more like "Carry on Nurse" as the next thing you know Catherine is carrying his child.) There then follows a really dramatic scene where Henry returns to the front and gets wrapped up in a retreat from the German army; before going AWOL with Catherine and they then live quietly whilst they await the birth of their baby. I loved the scenes with the retreat - vivid and brutal. However, I felt that Catherine's character was a little more sketchy and she's hardly a character at all, merely the "good girl" she keeps proclaiming herself to be. The men in the novel are so much more realistic. This isn't a pretty read and it doesn't have a happy ending; but it's very, very good.
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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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A Farewell To Arms
A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Mass Market Paperback - 18 Aug. 1994)
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