Steven Greenberg's Reviews > For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
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Dec 14, 11

Read in January, 1989

Hemingway's best accomplishment by far. Great and fascinating plot, wonderful and memorable characters, and the message, always pertinent, that human acts are interlinked in infinite ways. The title of the work says it all: It's from John Donne's most famous sermon about man's duty toward and responsibility for his fellow man. Also, more specifically, the novel is about the Spanish Civil War, a bloodbath-of-a-cataclysm in which the "good guys" were the Republicans, backed by Stalin, who ultimately lost, and the "bad guys" were the Franco Fascists, supported by Hitler, who ultimately won. It was basically a communist vs. fascist conflict, which either side might have profitably lost at the time in the interests of world peace. Franco kept Spain out of the forthcoming greater war, which served his people well in the end. I am neither a fan nor a practitioner of Papa Ernest's sparse, laconic style--but it works well in this novel, adding reportorial authenticity to a captivating tale. In sum, one of my very favorite books.
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