Jacqui's Reviews > A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
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May 18, 08

Read in November, 2000

I disliked Hemingway the first time I read him. I didn't get his prose. I thought he was a misogynist. Well, okay, perhaps he wasn't any feminist or friend of feminists, but I don't know. It was a different time, and all those excuses. Nevermind that, however, because while that was important to me on first reading his novels at age 14, it no longer is. My perspective on, well, lots of things has changed, and Hemingway is now one of my favorite writers.

You don't have to like what you imagine to be an author's personality and values to enjoy his or her prose, now do you?

Hemingway's ability to write concisely and vividly without seeming laconic is awe-inspiring to me. This novel deals with the experiences of a man during WWI in Italy, and mostly, his experience in love. How are we supposed to handle the beauty of our surroundings, the friendship of our fellows, and even more so, the naked heart of someone we love, when bombs are falling and our bodies are bleeding?

Hemingway's treatment of these subjects in this novel makes sense to me, and I think it might have had some influence on a later novel written by the Czech (and wonderful) author Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". Perhaps I should reread these two novels in succession to make sure of the thread.
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message 1: by Robert (last edited May 18, 2008 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Robert Actually, Jacqui, you may have a lot more insight into Hemingway than most modern readers. Several years ago, I read an excellent literary biography of Hemingway by a Johns Hopkins English prof that analyzes almost all of his work on in a biographical context and with the benefit of much more relevant knowledge than anyone else I've seen. Using the text, he makes the point almost irrefutably that Hemingway was anything but a mysogynist in his writing. And in his personal life, although he may at times have shown less than noble attitudes toward women, it was really a type of selfishness that he subjected many of his friends to. To the extent that his treatment of women was not exemplary, his writing should often be read as self-criticism.

There is no doubt that Hemingway greatly resented his mother, and with good reason.

Unfortunately, I can't recall the biographer's name and haven't been able to locate the title anywhere.

I found it. The biographer's name was Lynn and it was published in 1987. My mother had purchased it on a visit to his Key West home. Here's a link on Lynn:


Jacqui Wow, thanks for the comment! I will look for that biography. It sounds really relevant to what I was trying to express. Thanks again - I will post the name here if I do find it.

Jason it's called Hemingway by kenneth lynn.

Jacqui thanks!

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

You don't have to like what you imagine to be an author's personality and values to enjoy his or her prose, now do you?
An insight most needed with Hemingway and so many others, Thank you Thank you and again thank you.

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