Day 72:”A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway

Today I read “A Farewell to Arms”, a novel written by Ernest Hemingway about the Italian front in World War 1. It is said to be the greatest American novel to emerge from World War 1, and is influenced greatly by Hemingway’s own experiences. Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

“A Farewell to Arms” captures the romance between an American Italian ambulance driver and a British nurse in a war-torn Italy. This story is not your average war story, nor is it your everyday love story. Frederic Henry, commonly referred to as Tenente (the Italian word for ‘Lieutenant’), is an American volunteering for the Italian army. He meets Catherine, a nurse that soon captivates him with her beauty and charm and they fall in love. I personally was not a fan of Catherine when first being introduced to her. I thought she was a bit unstable and manipulative. I eventually grow to like her some, but I think this is more based on my fondness of Henry and wanting his happiness.

Their story takes an interesting turn as Henry is wounded and their lives are momentarily separated from the war front and brought together in a time of bliss, only to be thrown back into reality when Henry goes back to the Italian front. The next majority of the book was a daily recounting of Henry’s experiences in the war. Now, I love war stories and am somewhat intrigued by all that goes on apart from the civilian’s mind, but I will admit that I struggled through this part of the story. Not because the facts and storyline weren’t interesting, but because Hemingway’s writing style can be somewhat hard to follow. At least for me it was. The descriptions can get a bit muddied due to a lack of proper punctuation and you do not always know who is talking when. However, the last bit of Henry’s escapades I found really exciting as it documented his escape from the front.

Henry reunites with Catherine, now pregnant with child, and the rest of the book tells of their life together over the next many months. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will tell you that I was highly disappointed with it. For all the sad and war-filled paragraphs throughout, you would think the story would have a delightfully satisfactory ending. I am finding that most classical books and movies are similar in the way that they end. The ending are not perfect. Although this isn’t what I would prefer, I think it is wonderful. It is realistic. It is life.

Yes, I would recommend this book. But only to those who thoroughly enjoy reading. If you have a hard time getting through an easy read (most contemporary fiction), then you will most likely put this book down in frustration after the first 20 pages. Now, if you are an avid reader, you should definitely look at this book. If you can push yourself to keep focus and understanding  through the first half, I promise you, you will finish the second promptly, and will enjoy it.

Here is a quote that I really liked, not meaning anything in relation to the storyline, but just as a quote from a man in his life.

“I would be too happy. If I could live there and love God and serve Him.” -said by ‘the priest’, when talking about living in his beloved town of Abruzzi, Italy.

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