July 14, 2015

Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway


In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the war to end all wars. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded, and twice decorated. Out of his experiences came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway's description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer, and the men and women he meets in Italy with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war. In it, Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion.


The Old Man and the Sea this was not.

The description of the war front and the intensity of feelings and manners of the soldiers were interesting and, for the time it was written, intense. But when it came to the dialogue, especially between Henry and Catherine, I wanted to claw my eyes out.  Hemingway often took an entire page or two for a back and forth between the two on whether or not he loved her or she loved him or whether she could stay with him or had to work and blah blah blah who cares.

Perhaps that is why I liked The Old Man and the Sea much better - not much dialogue to speak of.

Catherine and Henry had a very co-dependent relationship.  I can understand that in times of war you cling to someone to help you through it, but that sentiment was lost in the horribly repetitive, mind-numbingly boring dialogue.  And boy could I tell this was autobiographical.  Henry was drinking on every other page.  I could practically smell the alcohol on his breath.  This is not a love story.  It's not romantic.  It's incredibly incredibly sad.

I know it is like sacrilege to not like a Hemingway novel, but this was not up to my high expectations of my Old Man and the Sea memories.

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