Marius van Blerck's Reviews > For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
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Nov 20, 09

Read in November, 2009

An interesting book, which starts very well, but it eventually submerges a vibrant storyline into interminable and ultimately tedious introspective soliloquies. A pity, because the book shows so much promise. The opening chapters reminded me a little of the feel of Cormac McCarthy's "All the Pretty Horses" - a book I really loved. McCarthy must have been paying tribute to Hemingway. Another factor that bothered me was how Robert Jordan established total control over the guerilla group within hours of joining it, usurping the long-time leader, bedding the belle, and saving the day.

Notwithstanding all of this, I liked the book in a moral gung-ho soapy sort of way, and after initially giving it 3 stars, I've thought it deserved another.

Here's a weird thing: When I searched for this book on Goodreads, I only found it in collections, or commentaries on it. Never the book on its own. I had to import it manually. then, when I looked for my review later, it was given its German title. Weird - what gives?
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Brim (new)

Brim I wrote a critique on a critique earlier. You are right on the edge of truly getting this book, as made apparent by your nod to McCarthy. I am an English major turned Marine Infantry Sergeant. I can say that the issues you find in the prose, tempo, and even plot can be solved with one simple phrase ... the bloodiest war is fought continuously in the strugggle of self-doubt and longing for a return to normalcy in the minds and imaginations of every individual engaged in its orchestration. This battlefield of the mind is created by boredom ... the most dangerous foe in a conflict.


message 2: by Brim (new)

Brim With no offense intended, your analisys of Jordan is, I believe, flawed. He is a pawn in every way and every part of the story. His American involvement is continuously condemned, occasionally directly, sometimes sarcastcly. This is enforced by prose in the form of characters transfoming from unsophisticated speech structure to advanced when referring to his "republican ideals". Furthermore, his "getting the girl", saving the day, and haughtiness in relations are Hemingway's proof of concept that Jordan was an unfortunate tool used by a "Repubic" and even an author to achieve advances in which Robert had no emotional vested interest.


Marius van Blerck Interesting perspective.


message 4: by Brim (new)

Brim Thank you. I enlisted at the age of 27, so I had the benifit of viewing many situations through eyes adjusted by at least a few years of life experience, as opposed to most who enter the service at 18. I feel the combination of that experience and my liberal arts education put me in a unique position to understand Hemingway's point of view. It also helps to be an extreme functional alcoholic. Another factor that carries much weight in the themes of the novel ... justification of one's own alcoholism. "That is what kills the worm that haunts us"


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