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on 10 June 2017
vintage Hemmingway
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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.

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on 10 March 2016
I confess that, despite having read some of Hemingway’s most praised novels, I remain unconvinced of the man’s greatness. His prose style is certainly worthy of note: the strung-out, comma-less sentences with their serial conjunctions and butt-ended clauses, and the hewn plainness of his prose, are both on show in this book. But these stylistic devices have, to my mind, been better used by other writers, and Hemingway’s punctuation surely owes something to Gertrude Stein. As for the novel itself, it is a romance and an adventure story, for which war serves as a backdrop (and in this respect it is similar to “For Whom the Bell Tolls”). The romance is somewhat less than engaging, and we don't really get a sense of the couple involved as characters except from through what they say, rendered in rather wooden dialogue. To my mind the standout section of the novel covers the fiasco of Caporetto, when the Italians lost significant territory and numbers of men to a large Austrian-German offensive in autumn 1917. Here the sheer randomness and caprice of war comes through, but it is too brief a part of the novel to make up for its weaknesses.
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on 8 October 2014
Hard to get into this book as written in an odd style - had to keep saying to myself to remember the time in which it was written. I had read The Paris Wife so had an insight into Hemingway from his first wife's perspective and had not particularly liked him so perhaps that was also a barrier to his work, but he, the author is very self focussed. But then perhaps I would be in a war situation? A funny mix as even though he is self absorbed, mainly about alcohol, we do not really discover much about his responses, emotions and inner thoughts. Yes there are some insights but few- another characteristic of those times? The relationship with Catherine is also very polite and formal - reminds me of old black & white films when I was a child..... However, this book was chosen for a bookclub meeting & despite no one really liking it, there was a great deal of discussion and questions asked about the book including the war, the geography, Hemingway and relationships at that time etc..... How style and life is so different now!! But a challenge to think in different ways and to really try to understand the style of writing and the author. Perhaps worth reading after all?
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on 29 January 2009
In A FAREWELL TO ARMS, the texture, pace, and content of the social interaction is absolutely spot-on when Lieutenant Frederic Henry, Hem's protagonist, mixes with his fellow officers, the soldiers in his command, various bartenders, and several nurses who mother him. While Frederic shows a slightly different face in each group, he is generally succinct, generous, self-aware, and subtle in his social mastery. IMHO, this Frederic is a genuine literary achievement and a reason, by himself, to read this terrific anti-war novel. At a minimum, AFtA certainly demonstrates that Hemingway has a fabulous gift for capturing manly rapport and virile presence.

At the same time, Hem doesn't seem to know how to handle Catherine Barkley, his only significant female character. In her presence, Hem seems out of his element, and the interaction between the sexes seems to contain only empty expressions. "You're awfully nice," is typical. Maybe Hem is saying that love is doomed during war and that lovers are reluctant to probe their commitment. Still, a couple together as much as Frederic and Catherine would enjoy some lighter or more natural moments, wouldn't they?

Nonetheless, the force driving this novel is The Great War, with the war-weary Frederic serving in the Italian army, suffering a serious wound, enjoying a discreetly sexy convalescence, returning to battle, and then making his separate (but tragic) peace. As told by Hemingway, this story abounds with male sports--mess hall razing, military duty, battle, and bold survival--that bring out the best in his terse style. When mortar shells explode in Frederic's shallow trench, for example, a writer who describes through sequences of quick impressions can be completely true to the moment.

AFtA achieves its status as a classic of American literature in Book III, when the Austrians and Germans break through the Italian lines and the Italian army undertakes a pathetic retreat, where the biggest threat is friendly fire. Then, the arbitrary dimension of war comes into perfect but non-polemical focus as Frederic, ready to regroup to make a stand, tries to cross the wooden bridge at the Tagliamento River. Highly recommended.
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on 12 January 2000
A wonderful tale where men and women of passion and action live, fight, love and die in scenes of drmamtic intensity. An involving story told the way only Hemingway can. I recommend this book to anyone especially if you like Hemingway's style of writing. An excellent read.
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This is the second time I've tried Hemingway. My first attempt was The Old Man and The Sea, which really didn't do it for me, but as it is exactly what it says in the title, i.e. a book about an old man catching a fish at sea, I thought maybe it was just the subject matter I was struggling with. A Farewell to Arms is Hemingway writing about war, which is much more to my taste. Sadly it seems that Hemingway is not to my taste at all though.

This book deals with the protagonist's role in assisting the Italians during WWI. It focuses on him sustaining an injury which means he is hospitalised for several months. While in hospital he forms a relationship with a British nurse and the rest of the book focuses on his return to the front and how his relationship weathers that traumatic time.

Hemingway is a sparse writer. Some people think this is powerful. I just found it frustrating. There was little description, everything is rendered in terse prose which means it is hard to build up any kind of empathy with the characters or indeed fathom any sort of motivation. The war seems like a convenient kind of back drop but never really impinges on anything. Even in the height of battle the protagonist seems curiously disconnected from events, and the most enthusiastic he gets is when he is hunting down his next drink, or worrying that he won't be able to drink.

His attitude to his girlfriend was positively medieval and really I disliked him more and more as the book progressed.

I struggled to connect to the work and realised it is because to me it reads a lot like a twelve year old boy's essay on what I did in the war.
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on 23 December 2014
Not something I would usually read but was going to the theatre to see a version of this. It was a very drawn out story but it certainly helped me when I saw the stage version. It was an insight into aspects of the first world war.
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on 10 April 2015
A very different feel to other war novels, but Hemingway's rich descriptive style and humour made this novel a great read. However you should be warned that the ending is very bleak.
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on 20 August 2015
All as described, thanks!
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