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Por quem os sinos dobram

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Esta comovente história, cujo pano de fundo é a Guerra Civil Espanhola, narra três dias na vida de um americano que se ligara à causa da legalidade na Espanha. Hemingway conseguiu que seus leitores sentissem que o ocorrido no país ibérico em 1937 era apenas um aspecto da crise do mundo moderno. A obra foi eternizada no cinema numa produção norte-americana, dirigida por Sam Wood, com Gary Cooper e Ingrid Bergman nos papéis principais. A trama gira em torno de Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper), o americano integrante das Brigadas Internacionais, que luta ao lado do governo democrático e republicano, recebendo a missão de dinamitar uma ponte. Com ele está um grupo de guerrilheiros/ciganos integrado por Pilar (Katina Paxinou, que recebeu Oscar de Melhor Atriz Coadjuvante), mulher com extraordinária força de vontade, o perigoso Pablo (Akim Tamiroff) e a bela Maria (Ingrid Bergman). A relação entre Robert e Maria acabou por se tornar uma das mais inesquecíveis histórias de amor da literatura moderna e do cinema. Hemingway começou a escrever o livro em 1939, em Cuba, onde morava. Publicado em 1940, foi sucesso de crítica e público. Por razões políticas, no entanto, deixou de receber o Pullitzer, prestigiado prêmio literário dos EUA, apesar de eleito por unanimidade pelos jurados.

672 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1940

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About the author

Ernest Hemingway

1,560 books28.1k followers
Terse literary style of Ernest Miller Hemingway, an American writer, ambulance driver of World War I , journalist, and expatriate in Paris during the 1920s, marks short stories and novels, such as The Sun Also Rises (1926) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952), which concern courageous, lonely characters, and he won the Nobel Prize of 1954 for literature.

Economical and understated style of Hemingway strongly influenced 20th-century fiction, whereas his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s. He published seven novels, six short story collections and two nonfiction works. Survivors published posthumously three novels, four collections of short stories, and three nonfiction works. People consider many of these classics.

After high school, Hemingway reported for a few months for the Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian front to enlist. In 1918, someone seriously wounded him, who returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms . In 1922, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved, and he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the expatriate community of the "lost generation" of 1920s.

After his divorce of 1927 from Hadley Richardson, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. At the Spanish civil war, he acted as a journalist; afterward, they divorced, and he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls . Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and 1940s.

Martha Gellhorn served as third wife of Hemingway in 1940. When he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II, they separated; he presently witnessed at the Normandy landings and liberation of Paris.

Shortly after 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where two plane crashes almost killed him and left him in pain and ill health for much of the rest of his life. Nevertheless, in 1959, he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.

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Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
576 reviews7,754 followers
March 6, 2018
'Robert Jordan sits on the pine needle floor of the pine forest, the scent of pine drifting through the pine trees which surround him. Gazing through the pines he sees a mountain which reminds him of a breast. It is domed, like a breast, but without a nipple, unlike a breast. The breastness of the mountain is superb. If only it was covered in pine needles and pine trees and had the scent of pine wafting around it. Then Robert would truly be happy.'

For Whom the Bell Tolls is allegedly a novel by Ernest Hemingway. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it is a story about an American dynamiter who is attempting to blow up a bridge in order to counteract Franco's forces.

Our main character, Robert Jordan, who is essentially a bad haircut personified, might win the title of 'most boring protagonist to ever appear in print'. Robert spends most of his time sitting on the forest floor and thinking about breasts. Poor Robert, his life really stinks! When he isn't thinking about boobs, he goes off on fifty-page long flashbacks to his life before the war when he was a young American in Madrid, cornering young girls at house parties and telling them how Kid A is actually the connoisseurs' choice when it comes to Radiohead albums but he has a soft spot for Pablo Honey.

What Robert needs is a feminine foil. A woman who can really stand-up to him and someone the reader can truly get behind. So Papa Hemingway shits out Maria, a woman so badly written that the only thing I can remember about her is that her nipples point upwards. Possibly the most lamentable aspect of Maria's character is the fact that she was raped by a group of fascists, a tragic backstory that Hemingway glosses over into order to talk about what a fantastic rack she has.

Hemingway's prose has always been an easy target. I would never, ever stoop so low. In fact, I will say thank god for Hemingway's prose! If For Whom the Bell Tolls was actually written at a literacy level higher than that of a kindergartener then it would genuinely be unreadable. On top of that, Hemingway makes the frankly strange decision to self-censor all of the obscenities throughout the novel. 'What the fuck' becomes 'what the muck' and so on. Hilariously, he also often substitutes obscenities with the word 'obscenity'. So there are genuinely moments in this novel where characters say 'what the obscenity are you doing?' and 'go obscenity yourself'.

My advice to all of you is to stay well away from this mess. There's nothing to see here folks. If you are interested in a book on the Spanish Civil War, read Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. If you want a good book about a bridge, and hey who doesn't, read Willa Cather's Alexander's Bridge. God, for whom the bell tolls? It tolls for me.
Profile Image for emma.
1,868 reviews54.4k followers
June 30, 2023

another month. another seminal work of literature added to my currently reading. another beautiful pun combining the two.

it's another PROJECT LONG CLASSIC installment.

actually kind of brave of me to have a book on my tbr for 8 years without even thinking about reading it. but the streak has to be broken eventually.

let's do this.

i tried to start reading this with zero preparation, as i have the delusional overconfidence of a tech billionaire or a teenage boy with a tiktok account.

almost immediately i fled to wikipedia, which told me "hey this book assumes you know about the spanish civil war" and then told me what that even is.

thank you to the world's foremost intellectual property.

aaaand we have a love interest. damn, ernest. you work fast. we haven't even seen anything get blown up yet.

and just like that, we're four days behind. here is the entirety of my defense: it's summertime. or at least it feels like it is.

back to back short chapters. ernest hemingway wrote this whole book for the benefit of a 25 year old a century in the future so she could keep up on homework she assigned herself.

it's an absinthe chapter!!!! we're getting hallucinatory.

THE SHORTEST CHAPTER YET. everyone say thank you, ernest.

so far we have a lot of dialogue about people shooting people but not a lot of shooting...so either we are seriously building tension (and it's working) or this book is whatever the antonym of action-packed is. either way i'm in.

no joke...this chapter is even shorter than the one before. heming-way to go, team.

loving how this character is only referred to as "pablo's woman" when pablo is weak and she runs everything. the fun thing about reading is that regardless of ernest's intent, i can decide he's conveying a point about misogyny and power.

well. we have now exchanged ilys and we have gotten mr. robert jordan laid.

time is money, i guess.

another What We Talk About When We Talk About Some Action Actually Happening chapter...but maybe the next one will be the kicker.

now pablo's woman is referred to as THE woman...i could write essays about this transformation!!!

what a brilliant What Humans Are Capable Of During War chapter. which is another way of saying this was impossible to read and horrible and cruel and torturous and today is a one-chapter day.

it does seem impossible that 11 chapters in we are still talking about the same bridge. is this the climactic event? i gotta say, i thought we were building toward something bigger.

could this be...a wee bit....a hint of...sapphic???

we have gotten roberto laid again and still not a single bridge has blown up. since i started this more bridges have collapsed in my day to day reality (1) than in this book (0). instead we have to deal with a man rationalizing himself into sleeping with a girl he knows he isn't going to marry.

100 year old situationship alert.

at this point i have accepted that the lack of action re: the bridge is a metaphor illustrating the futility and bureaucracy of war, and by this reasoning i am back on board.

ah, friendship.

the bridge is nowhere in sight but we do have people hitting each other. and i've gotta say, i'm feeling like i want to hit this pablo guy in the mouth myself.

now we're talking about plans for AFTER the bridge?! it's like i'm the only one who cares about explosions at this point.

i have been enjoying this read since i started, but today was the first day i was like...i can't wait to pick this up. and we haven't even blown up a bridge yet!

still no bridge, but we do have an incredible poetic description of the composite smell of death, made up of myriad images and scenes coming together into one horrible scent. so it's forgivable, still.

classics are important because they teach you things about Eras of History. for example, now i know that people were just as horny in the 1940s as today.


i totally and 100% understand the point that hemingway is trying to make about how war crowds out your ability to love, or to even be human, but the extracurricular "women aren't people" type unthinking misogyny really adds to the vibe.

man oh man all of these chapters have been so delightfully short. suddenly somehow doing 43 chapters in a 30 day month seems like an effortless treat.

took like 3.5 days off to celebrate a multiday national event known as "i saw boygenius live" and i'm still ahead of schedule. thank you, past me.

to be honest i just watched all quiet on the western front (great movie, highly recommend, most horrifying thing i've ever seen in my life) so all war content is just going to fail in comparison to that.

i have roughly 2 brain cells to rub together today and i am spending absolutely all of their capacity on reading my daily chapter(s) anyway.

and hemingway heard my plea from the future and granted me a chapter that's like 3.5 paragraphs long. i can't lose.

AND it was really good. sheesh.

back to our regularly scheduled programming. (read: a chapter you can actually measure in pages.)

i'm just going to say it. you know i'm going to say it so i might as well just get it out of the way: people are now shooting at each other and nary a bridge has seen a bomb.

i'm sorry for all the bridge jokes. this is a compelling and real depiction of what war is like and the last chapter was jarring in its rendition of that.x

it's just...it really is a case of chekhov's unexploded infrastructure at this point.

brain dead day.

a chapter so somber and so exquisitely related you immediately feel bad for making a neverending series of unfunny bridge jokes.

aaaand now we're comparing boobs to natural terrain again. phew. i almost felt something there.

oh, poor maria.

enemy chapter. with my level of interest and ability to remember these names it functions like an intermission.

is robert...actually...nice?

can't be, right? that'd be too easy. i can't be enjoying a classic written by some guy 100 years ago AND think the protagonist is a good dude.

someday i hope to be as passionate about anything as hemingway is about bullfighting.

this is a very emotional and internal chapter that brings to light the hate that has been building in our protagonist for hundreds of pages, and yet it is fully impossible to take seriously because he literally will not stop telling people to "muck" themselves.

tensions are rising and the fate of the characters we most care about are sealed, so it is crucial that we take a quick detour to hang out with some guy on a side quest.

for old times sake, as we reach our mortal end...let's get robert laid one last time.

love to repeatedly say the spookiest, most superstitious and jinx-y thing i can think of and then go "nah jk jk"

aaaaand here comes the action. maybe.

okay. so not quite yet. but i haven't heard this much talk of grenades since jersey shore was airing!

sorry about that one.

"i obscenity you" is better than any modern-day swear, insult, expletive, or curse we could possibly come up with as a society.

guys...i can't believe i'm saying this...but we are locked and loaded and at the bridge.

we've checked in with the bad guys. it is time.

the final chapter. last call to place bets on if this bridge ever goddamn explodes.

there were parts of this chapter that were the very best of the book, and there were parts that were wow, sheesh, corny. but the ending itself...so good.

at points, this dragged (and gave me a ton of time to make very repetitive explosion jokes, and for you to have to deal with them), and i don't think it always carried its purpose across effectively, and wowza did this sometimes feel more about premarital sex than war, but. in spite of all of it this is a good book!
rating: 3.5
Profile Image for Tom.
401 reviews36 followers
June 27, 2008
Ok, before I commit the sacrilege of dismissing this "classic," permit me to establish my Hemingway bona fides: I have read and loved just about everything else he wrote, and have taught Sun Also Rises, Farewell to Arms, and many short stories, and had a blast doing it. I've read Carlos Baker's classic bio, and numerous critical articles on H. I've made the pilgrimage to Key West and taken pictures of his study and the hordes of 6-toed cats. I dig Papa, ok?

But I can not stand this book! I should say up front that I've never been able to tolerate it long enough to finish it -- twice. First time was nearly 30 years ago, and as a fairly recently discharged Army troop,I took up this book with much anticipation and excitement. I couldn't get past about half way through. I found the prose so incredibly flat and dull as to be soporific (and, yes, I fully understand and appreciate H's famous "Iceberg Principle" of writing -- "the thing left unsaid" etc). The problem wasn't the "thing left unsaid;" the problem was too many things said, and in a very boring fashion. How could a book with such a dramatic plot be so dull, I wondered in shock? It's all in the language, or lack thereof. I have a theory that great short story writers often don't make great, or even good, novelists, because the voice and style that works so well in the shorter genre just doesn't translate to the longer one (John Cheever, case in point; IB Singer, to a lesser extent). Now, of course, H. did write great novels; this just isn't one of them. Take away the language in H's novels, and what are you left with -- borderline juvenile adventures and fantasies, or at best, semi-journalistic accounts.

Compare the opening of Bells with the opening of Farewell to Arms: be honest and tell me if you hear even one faint echo of the magical rhythm of that famous opening in Bells -- anywhere, not just the beginning? And the dialogue, sweet jesus, joseph and mary, I've heard corporate phone recordings with more intonation and human warmth.

A few months ago, our book club selected this novel. At first, I kept my opinions to myself and hoped I would have a different response reading this time. I readily acknowledge that my reading tastes have evolved -- matured, I hope -- significantly over the years, and maybe I just had a tin ear 30 years ago. Not the case. I couldn't even get beyond the first 6 pgs this time. That flat voice was duller than ever! "Waterboarding would be more tolerable than reading 400+ pages of this stuff," I thought. I've choked down some mediocre books before for the sake of fulfilling my civic duty as a long-standing member of our book club, but I couldn't do it this time.

This is not to suggest that the rest of you are wrong. I have a dear friend who's read more great literature than I can remember, and he loves this book, and expresses great shock when I tell him how much I hate it. But there it is.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
May 23, 2019
”No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
----------John Donne

 photo robertcapa_zps0074a556.jpg
Robert Capa’s iconic 1936 photo of a falling soldier.

Between 1936-1939 a war happened in Spain. The world refers to it as the Spanish Civil War, but to the citizens of Spain it is called The Civil War. It was a war for control of the soul of a country. It was fought between the Republicans, who were democratically elected and the Nationalists, a Fascist group wanting to overthrow the government. Most people were not aware at the time, but really this Civil War was a precursor, a warming pan for World War Two. The Soviet Union and a coalition of other future allies who stayed behind the scenes provided help and advice for the Republicans. Germany and Italy provided support for the Nationalists. There were international brigades formed up of volunteers from all over the world who came to Spain to fight against fascism.

They lost.

Francisco Franco, leader of the Nationalists, was the dictator of Spain until his death in 1975.

Ernest Hemingway went to Spain as a war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance and was hoping to find some great material for a book. The dialogue is written in an archaic style implying that it is the most correct translation from the Spanish. The thees and thous are distracting and certainly added some ponderousness to a book that was set in the 1930s not the 1630s.

 photo HemingwaySpanishWar_zps196a4eb6.jpg
Hemingway in Spain.

Robert Jordan is an American who has been trained to be a dynamiter. He joins a band of gypsy freedom fighters up in the hills of Sierra de Guadarrama with orders to blow a bridge that may or may not be important. The chances of survival are slender because they are too few and the timeline too tight. He meets Maria who has been saved by the band from the Fascists who had tortured and raped her.

He falls head over heels in love.

“I loved you when I saw you today and I loved you always though I have never seen you before.”

It could be the added tension of facing certain death coupled with her very real vulnerability that made him protective and lustful for her. Their relationship quickly goes medieval with her begging him for ways to help him: shining his shoes, pouring him wine, mending his clothes, or fetching him something to eat. She is constantly insecure about her appearance because the Fascists had cut off her hair and she only had a stubble grown back. The relationship is built on the most shallow grounds. It is difficult to conceive that it would have survived a move back into a regular life.

“But did thee feel the earth move?”

I’m not sure if this is where the concept of sex being cosmic originated, but it certainly provided some eye rolling moments for this reader. Especially when the gypsy witch Pilar tells Maria that she will only feel the earth move three times in her lifetime.

Why three times?

It is not known, but Pilar is most certain it can only happen three times.

 photo for-whom-the-bell-tolls_zps796f5c90.jpg
There is a 1943 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper.

Jordan’s relationship with the rest of the band is one of uncertainty and shifting alliances. He certainly is stepping on the toes of the original leader Pablo who used to be a man of great courage, but had lost his desire to want to kill or be killed. He is considered a coward or in my opinion maybe he’d just had his belly full of it. He commits an act of treason in an attempt to save the band, but decides in the final moment to come back and help. In some ways he is the most interesting character in the book. A man who is evolved past mindlessness and wants more reason for blowing a bridge or killing people than just to follow orders.

The best scene in the book is the death of a band of guerrillas who are lead by El Sordo. They are trapped on a hill by the Nationalists and it is some of the most compelling writing in the book as the action shifts between Jordan’s band who want to help, but know it is suicide to help, and the band on the hill wondering if help will arrive. Courage is something Hemingway respects and cowardice is something he worries about. The potential of experiencing his own bout of cowardice or finding it in others is a theme of his life.

Jordan’s father had committed suicide, an act of cowardice as far as Jordan was concerned. He is worried that he will be captured and would be forced to kill himself like his father. It puts into question his whole feelings about his father and the way he died. I found myself wincing as I was reading these passages seeing Hemingway’s own mind so glaringly revealed. Hemingway's father killed himself, as did his sister and brother. The curse continued into another generation with the suicide of his granddaughter Margaux. If Hemingway felt the way Jordan did (I believe he did.) I do wonder if he finally forgave his own father when he became the mechanism of his own death or did he maybe blame his father for cursing the family with suicidal thoughts?

 photo ErnestHemingway_zps88ac2cd4.jpg
Hemingway posing with his favorite shogun. Later he used it to end his life.

I read this book as a teenager and was suitably impressed with Hemingway at the time. I’d read The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms and enjoyed them. I approached For Whom the Bell Tolls convinced I would love it as well. Rereading it now, at this point in my life was a struggle. The story is actually very simple, but this is a book that has fallen in a barrel of water and been bloated beyond recognition. Hemingway is famous for his concise sentences and for the precision of his plots, but in this novel he certainly moves away from both of those concepts. There is a wonderful short novel here hidden behind too much ink. The plot actually becomes tedious and repetitive. Words I thought I would never use to describe a Hemingway novel. I can’t begin to convey how disappointed I felt. It makes me fearful to read others of his books that I have such fine memories of reading.

This book was very popular and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Profile Image for Peter.
2,779 reviews500 followers
June 23, 2022
This was the first full length novel by Hemingway I read and what a story it was! Romance, war scenes, behind the enemy line action. Written in Hemingway's unimitable prose I really enjoyed this story set in Spain. It's a very philosophical novel too. Absolutely recommended to every reader. It's a modern classic!
Profile Image for Matt.
936 reviews28.6k followers
March 20, 2021
“If we can win here, we can win everywhere...the world is a fine place and worth the fighting for, and I hate very much to leave it...”
- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

One of my favorite subgenres of literature is the people-on-a-mission story. If you have a collection of disparate individuals, each with a specific set of skills, and if they have to do something really hard and dangerous, preferably involving the destruction of a bridge, I am absolutely there. I’m not quite sure, but this affinity may have started when I first watched The Bridge on the River Kwai with my dad. Ever since, I have been a sucker for tales involving men and women who have a one-way ticket with destiny.

Thus, it’s no surprise that I loved Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Though positioned as a “classic,” it is really just a gussied-up action-adventure novel about a fella trying to disrupt a chasm-spanning structure with a little well-placed trinitrotoluene. Adhering to the typical tropes, he even has time to fall in love, before his deadly rendezvous.

The fella, in this case, is Robert Jordan, an American fighting against the Nationalist forces of General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. This understudied conflict – which began in 1936 – served as a prelude to the Second World War, and became a proxy for the competing ideologies of communism and fascism. As such, it drew journalists and volunteers from all over the world. One of those journalists was Hemingway himself, who went to Spain to cover the conflict, and developed a sympathy for the Republican cause.

This sympathy is on full display in For Whom the Bell Tolls, which begins with young Robert lying on his stomach, listening to the wind in the pines as he surveys the bridge that he is slated to destroy. To complete his task, Robert joins a group of partisans, meeting three central characters: Pablo, Pilar, and Maria.

Pablo is the leader, but he is aging, selfish, and on the verge of betraying the Republic. Pilar is his wife, and the true leader of the band. Though Hemingway is not particularly known for his fully-realized female characters, Pilar steals every scene of which she is a part. Shrewd, mystical, and manipulative, she is the glue holding the band together, and also the conductor setting everything in motion. Finally, there is Marie, a beautiful young girl who was raped by the fascists and had her hair shorn off. Despite his lethal assignment, Robert finds time to fall in love with Maria, even as the clock ticktocks towards eternity.


Hemingway is an author whose reputation definitely precedes him. Even if you’ve never read one of his novels, you’ve probably seen his style parodied: the taut, terse prose; his this-then-that manner of storytelling; and his offbeat grammatical structures that make you think you are reading an English translation, rather than a book written in English.

All those things – along with Hemingway’s penchant for exploring men being men – is certainly on display here. But you also see that the “simplicity” with which he writes is deceptive. For instance, many of his short, punctual sentences are adding up to something, such as this breathlessly long passage of Robert and Maria spending some alone-time together:

Then there was the smell of the heather crushed and the roughness of the bent stalks under her head and the sun bright on her closed eyes and all his life he would remember the curve of her throat with her head pushed back into the heather roots and her lips that moved smally and by themselves and the fluttering of the lashes on eyes tight closed against the sun and against everything, and for her everything was red, orange, gold-red, from the sun on the closed eyes, and it all was that color, all of it, the filling, the possessing, the having, all of that color, all in a blindness of that color. For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, hung on all time always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them.

It is writing like this that puts For Whom the Bell Tolls into a different realm. By way of plot, this could have been written by Jack Higgins or Alistair Maclean. Hemingway’s undeniable talent gives this potboiler a high literary gloss.


Don’t let that gloss fool you, though. This is a fun read. Of the Hemingway novels I’ve read, this is the most purely enjoyable. It mixes together a lot of dependable elements, such as hopeless love; the debate over pragmatism versus principle; and some pretty solid action scenes, given the Hemingway treatment, as in the famous hilltop stand of the partisan El Sordo:

When the shooting had started he had clapped [his] helmet on his head so hard it banged his head as though he had been hit with a casserole and, in the last lung-aching, leg-dead, mouth-dry, bullet-spatting, bullet-cracking, bullet-singing run up the final slope of the hill after his horse was killed, the helmet had seemed to weigh a great amount and to ring his bursting forehead with an iron band. But he had kept it. Now he dug with it in a steady, almost machinelike desperation. He had not yet been hit…

I appreciate imagery in my fiction. I like having scenes described. Hemingway does this as well as anyone. He puts you right there.


This is a book I first read when I was a freshman in college. I’ll be the first to admit that this was not exactly the most clearheaded period of my life. My emotional lability was like a metronome on a ship in a hurricane. The highs were high, the lows were low. Every defeat was like Waterloo, and so was every victory. Each new love was like the world’s first. It was in this mind-muddled context that I first discovered Robert, Maria, and Pilar, and their mission to de-bridge a gorge. I would be lying if I did not say that my fevered, volatile self firmly embraced Robert’s romantic fatalism:

[W]hen I am with Maria I love her so that I feel, literally, as though I would die and I never believed in that nor thought that it could happen. So if your life trades its seventy years for seventy hours I have that value now and I am lucky enough to know it. And if there is not any such thing as a long time, nor the rest of your lives, nor from now on, but there is only now, why then now is the thing to praise…

Of course, I am no longer in college, no longer that young, and – thankfully – at least a bit more stable, though that is relative. Thus, it was interesting to reassess For Whom the Bell Tolls with emotions that are a bit less raging. I have long classed this among my all-time favorite books, but I’m not certain that would be the case if I read this for the first time today.

With that said, there is still a fundamental power in this novel that is undeniable. The cinematic quality of the set pieces still holds up. So does the way that Hemingway marvelously captures the tensions between youth and experience, between choosing causes and choosing people, between what is worth dying for, and for what is worth living.

Also, there is a bridge that needs to be blown up, and that’s the kind of saga that never goes out of style.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews26 followers
September 10, 2021
(Book 587 from 1001 books) - For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War.

As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia. The novel is regarded as one of Hemingway's best works, along with The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, and A Farewell to Arms.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «زنگها برای که به صدا درمی‌آیند»؛ «ناقوس برای که به صدا در می‌آید»؛ «ناقوس عزا برای که می‌زند»؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در ماه آگوست سال 1976میلادی

عنوان: زنگها برای که به صدا درمی‌آیند؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی، مترجم: رحیم نامور، تهران، صفی علیشاه، 1329، در 280ص، چاپ دیگر تهران، کتابهای جیبی، 1342، در 315ص، چاپ چهارم 1345، در 325ص، چاپ دیگر صفیعلیشاه، 1367، چاپ دیگر تهران، نگاه، در 360ص، شابک9643513939؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، امیرکبیر، چاپ اول 1389، چاپ پنجم 1392، در 364ص، شابک 9789640013267؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسه - تاریخ جنگهای داخلی اسپانیا از سال 1936میلادی تا سال 1939میلادی - سده 20م

مترجم: علی سلیمی؛ تهران، سکه، 1350، در 585ص، چاپ دیگر تهران، پیروز، 1362؛ در 585ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، جامی، 1389، در488ص، چاپ دوم 1393؛ شابک 9789642575930؛

مترجم: عنایت الله شکیبا پور، تهران، دنیای کتاب، 1396، در 416ص، شابک 9789643463694؛

عنوان: ناقوس برای که به صدا درمی‌آید؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی، مترجم: کیومرث پارسای، تهران، ناژ، 1394، در 484ص، شابک9786006110103؛

عنوان: ناقوس عزا برای که می‌زند؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی، مترجم: پرویز شهدی، تهران، افکار جدید، 1396، در 656ص، شابک9786009862863؛ ترجمه از متن فرانسه

این رمان روایت داستان «رابرت جوردن»، سرباز «آمریکایی» است، که در میانه ی جنگ‌های داخلی «اسپانیا» به بریگاد بین‌المللی پیوسته‌ است؛ وی به‌ عنوان متخصص مواد منفجره، وظیفه دارد، پلی را که بر سر راه دشمن قرار دارد، منفجر کند؛ «جفری مایر»، نویسنده ی «زندگی‌نامهٔ همینگوی»، باور دارد، که این اثر یکی از بهترین آثار «همینگوی»، در کنار «پیرمرد و دریا»، «وداع با اسلحه»، و «خورشید هم طلوع می‌کند»، است؛ سراینده ی صلح، در جایی گفته «وقتی دیگران حرف میزنند، مردمان خوب گوش نمیکنند، راستی زنگها برای که به صدا درمیآیند»؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 18/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for stew.
42 reviews6 followers
November 11, 2014
I obscenity your transmission. I obscenity in the milk of your ancestors. I, and always and forever I; wandering I, mucking I, obscene obscenity forever and always and milking and transmissing and mucking wandering amongst the forever and the always I; obscenity obscene, mucking milking milk ancestral forever and ever to have and to hold and to be and now and always and forever; this now, wandering now, transmissing now, mucking now, milking now, obscene obscenity now, ancestral now, forever to be and to hold and to have always.
Profile Image for Adrianne Mathiowetz.
248 reviews223 followers
December 5, 2013
At some point in high school, I decided that I hated Ernest Hemingway. Was it the short story we read in English class? Was it the furniture collection named after him at Gabbert's? Something made me decide that Hemingway was a prick, and after that I dismissed him entirely.

This book was beautiful.

I don't even like books about war. (Case in point: I scanned half of War and Peace. I think which half is obvious.) But this book took five hundred pages to blow up a single bridge. There were tanks to count, grenades to gather, diagrams to be drawn and generals to contact. Somehow all of this managed to be completely enthralling to a reader whose eyes would otherwise glaze over at the mere mention of battalions.

I have to admit, a big part of my interest in it was likely due to the whole "American escapes America to live in caves and drink absinthe with the gypsies" thing. Who doesn't want to fantasize about that? And sleeping on pine needles, and falling in love with the gypsy girl! YES.

But mostly: I love how Hemingway writes his dialogue as though it were being directly translated. I love the slow sense of living, the feeling of being in the open air, the way you enter his main character's head through his stream of conscious ramblings. And I love that Robert Jordan is referred to as Robert Jordan throughout the entire book -- the way you refer to famous people, historical figures, the names you must commit to memory.
Profile Image for Carlos.
109 reviews95 followers
June 1, 2023
Lo bueno que me dejó este libro fue la curiosidad que me dio por leer más acerca de la guerra civil española. Por otro lado, Hemingway demuestra lo que sabe: escribir buenas novelas.
Lo que me gusta, es que siendo sólo cinco días de guerra, logra hacer un libro completo, lleno de recuerdos e historias emocionantes. Me toca un poco el hecho de saber que podrían ser la últimas horas de mi vida, me pongo en ese lugar y como que reflexiono. Me da vueltas en la cabeza cómo sería ser experto en explosivos y volar un puente.
¿Recomendado? Sí, los personajes son muy cercanos y "vivos", y de pasada, da a conocer un poco sobre la guerra civil española.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,636 followers
September 14, 2021

Acclaimed as one of Hemingway’s greatest novels, and indeed worthy of this distinction, For Whom the Bell Tolls is the story of an idealist during the Spanish Civil War - which was a bloody and treacherous prelude to WWII. Hemmingway was one of many artists that opposed Franco's repression of the Catalan Republic which was founded on Anarchist principles and crushed mercilessly by the right-wing Falangists with the full support of Hitler (while promised support for the Catalonians from Britain and France never materialized due to their failed strategy of Appeasement). This is the subject of Picasso's Guernica in Madrid's Reina Sophia museum - one of the most powerful pieces of art on the planet. In any case, it is against this fatalistic background (it was written in 1940, a few years after the annihilation of the movement), Hemmingway places an idealist American fighting for Catalonia and, well, things do not end well as one might surmise. It is a typically understated masterpiece of Hemmingway prose that can be read as a historical document about the failed revolution, a swan song for the pre-WWII idealism, or a precursor to the death and destruction of WWII to come, but nonetheless, it must be read as an essential anti-war text and an American masterpiece.

Robert Jordan is sent behind the fascist lines in the mountains near Segovia and there he joins forces with a band of guerrilla fighters and falls in love with Maria, a young girl who barely survived captivity by the fascists and was rescued by the band. There is Pablo and his wife Pilar, the de facto leaders, a gypsy Rafael, an older man Anselmo and a few other revolutionaries. Robert’s mission to blow up a bridge over a deep gorge while the Republican army opens a new front in the war, hoping to conquer Segovia, is an ill-thought-out move and some disagreement in the group nearly leads to a split.

The book is Hemingway’s longest and his protagonist Robert Jordan may be the closest to an autobiographical portrait as he also lost his father to a suicide and seems addicted to action and violence.

Don't miss my review of the Meyer biography of Hemingway: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Mutasim Billah .
112 reviews199 followers
August 26, 2018
“If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”

Set in the middle of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), For Whom the Bell Tolls tells the tale of one Robert Jordan, an American who is given an assignment to work with a republican guerrilla unit to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.

The story explores various wartime sentiments such as thoughts of mortality, the possibility of suicide to escape torture and execution at the hands of enemy, camaraderie, betrayal, different political ideologies and bigotry.

Ernest Hemingway (center) in 1937 with Ilya Ehrenburg (Russian author, left) and Gustav Regler (German writer, right) during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)

The book garnered much attention for Hemingway's incorporation of a strange semi-archaic form of English to represent text translated from Spanish. Several real-life figures of Marxist background who played a part in the war are mentioned in the text as well. The book was unanimously recommended for the Pulitzer back in 1941 but the decision was controversially reversed by the board and no award was given that year.


Hemingway himself was involved in the Spanish Civil War as a journalist. In 1937, Hemingway agreed to report on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), arriving in Spain in March with Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens. Ivens was filming The Spanish Earth, a propaganda film in support of the Republican side. He wanted Hemingway to replace John Dos Passos as screenwriter, since Dos Passos had left the project when his friend José Robles was arrested and later executed.

Hemingway (center) with Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens and German writer Ludwig Renn (serving as an International Brigades officer) in Spain during Spanish Civil War, 1937
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
February 25, 2019
Not my favourite Hemingway, a little bit too slow.

But the topic of the Spanish Civil War makes it a good read, and the John Donne poem that gave the novel its title should be yelled, shouted, sung, recited, hummed and whispered by heart over and over again, especially in these times of outlandishly islandish people destroying the world again:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know FOR WHOM
THE BELL TOLLS; it tolls for thee.

Thank you Hemingway for being involved in mankind!
Profile Image for Luís.
1,944 reviews609 followers
January 8, 2023
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" is the story of a mission carried out over three days in the middle of the war in Spain by a team of Spanish partisans to blow up a bridge under the command of an American volunteer.
Three days from this, an increasing dramatic power emerges, which keeps the reader in maximum tension until the inevitable end. There are three days of rare density with men and women who are brave, disillusioned, broken, determined, bound by hatred of the enemy, prisoners of their collective history and accounts, discovering the power of their courage simultaneously of love.
An immense novel, through the little story within the big one, sweeps away the entire human condition, in all littleness, its ability to overcome its situation and the inevitable fatality of its mortal destiny, the values' height ​​, and the baseness of its instincts, the elegance of its solidarity and the mediocrity of its power games.
Size, immense, height: my apologies for this somewhat weak lexical field. That's what it is!
Profile Image for Ayz.
120 reviews18 followers
September 21, 2023
definitely wasn’t expecting this to jump into my top 5 novels of all time, but here we are. very glad i waited this long to read hemingway. not sure i could’ve appreciated him when i was younger, but once you’ve had enough life experience, not to mention legit heartbreak and loss, this book really gets under your skin.

hemingway basically writes the greatest action war movie of all time and infuses it with his minimal and poetic prose, so all the emotions in the finale sneak up on you before you’re ready to admit you care. mostly he achieves this by spending a lot of time hanging out with the characters before “the mission,” and we come to live and laugh with the diverse band of rebels, as well as empathize where they’re coming from as individuals; good and bad.

i can’t say much more, since it’s much like trying to describe a dream. one that meant much to you, but reducing it to words seems to diminish the whole experience or memory all together.

for whom the bell tells is, at its heart, a soulful david/goliath story. even when you don’t agree with the characters views on their world, you still understand it because hemingway makes you empathize.

and that’s why the last act is so damned harrowing.

in a way, this book reminded me a lot of the structure of the titanic movie. you know something inevitable is going to happen, and as you get to know the characters, who are also getting to know one another and possibly even fall in love, the suspense and tension ratchets up subconsciously the closer we get to the big event/mission. it’s a very subtle but skillful writing trick that avoids any overly plotty sections, and like i mentioned earlier, creeps up on you like the best kinda of stories. before you know it the story has hit you in the heart and now you’re biting nails while reading the last act.

i do think many modern readers with modern materialistic sensibilities won’t get this book. it requires a certain amount of giving yourself over to the fiction, while remembering at the end of the day it’s just a great yarn, not a political thesis.

tbh, it’s more like a turing test for proof of soul.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
July 30, 2011
Just when I'd decided that Hemingway only ever wrote books about people getting drunk in cafes and thinking about how miserable they are, he surprises me and comes out with something like this. Naturally, the characters still get drunk and think about how miserable they are, but they do it while being guerrilla fighters in the Spanish Civil War, which makes it awesome.

In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien writes that, "If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie." I kept coming back to that quote as I read this book, because it proves that Robbins was absolutely right. For Whom the Bell Tolls is not an uplifting story, and it's not moral. And when you're writing about a ragtag bunch of rebels fighting a fascist army, that's not easy to do. There are no good guys in this story, and no bad guys - not even the fascists.

"Good" and "Bad" in this story isn't divided by such clear lines. Instead, the biggest enemy that the protagonist (I won't use the word "hero") Robert Jordan faces is within the rebel group itself - a lot of strong personalities are drawn together by this war, and throwing them all together and making them live in a cave maybe wasn't the best way to go about things. The result is a fascinating portrait of a small group of people under enormous pressure, all trying to do the right thing even as they question what the right thing really is. Even when you're fighting fascists, nothing is black and white.

Another observation: having previously believed that Hemingway was incapable of writing compelling female characters, I am now forced to revise that opinion. There are only two women in this book, but they are both fully realized and compelling. Other reviewers found Maria one-dimensional, but I thought she was fascinating because of what was hinted at, but not revealed, about her. Her staggering understatement to describe her time as a prisoner of war - "Things were done to me" - is wonderful. She was tragic and sweet, and on a related note, Hemingway writes some surprisingly good sex scenes, so there's that.

And Pilar. Holy crap. Probably one of the most well-done characters I've ever read, she's alternately the mother figure, the best friend, the confidante, and the villain. Pilar is my new spirit animal.

A war story without heroes or villains, full of hollow victories and rage against the bureaucracy of war and what people under pressure can be forced to do, filled with some very good meditations on killing and war and love, and the importance of acting beyond personal gain. Well done, Mr. Hemingway.

(I should also add that Campbell Scott, who read the audiobook, does a fantastic job - he makes the characters' voices different enough for you to tell them apart without difficulty, and his Robert Jordan voice is exactly how I imagine Hemingway sounded in real life. If you're considering reading this, I'd recommend tracking down the audio version)
Profile Image for Kenny.
507 reviews937 followers
October 4, 2022
How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think than in all other time. I'd like to be an old man to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.
For Whom The Bell Tolls ~~ Ernest Hemingway

Selected by Alan for April 2022 Big Book Read

Sadly, it's en vogue to hate Ernest Hemingway these days. Hemingway was selfish and egomaniacal, a faithless husband and a treacherous friend. He drank too much, he brawled and bragged too much, he was a thankless son and a negligent father. Hemingway was a terrible person, and he was brilliant writer ~~ a very brilliant writer.

I've noticed that most of those who hate on Hemingway have never read Hemingway ~~ or they've only read The Old Man and the Sea in a high school English class. The brilliant The Old Man and the Sea is over the head of most 15-year-olds.

I wish people could get past this hatred of Hemingway. I will continue to shout it from the rooftops ~~ Hemingway is a brilliant writer!


There is a tremendous amount of sadness in Hemingway’s best novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. How could there not be? It’s about the Spanish Civil War; that most terrible of events pitting the bad against the equally bad. The story is simple, the tale of an American who ends up fighting on the side of the republicans against the fascist government. His task? Blow up a bridge. His conflict? A sudden and growing romance with Maria; some existential conflicts about the meaning of the war; the desire to die a purposeful death that is also painless.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a brilliant story inspired from true events during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s ~~ the guerrilla warfare between the fascist leader Franco and the Republican resistance. A story that bluntly accepts the horrors of life and one that sheds light on the sheer obstacles that people can overcome with purpose.


For Whom the Bell Tolls is told in the wonderfully smooth prose that employs both a refreshing truth in dialogue and also a realistic depiction of the human mind. For Whom the Bell Tolls projects the actual human beings caught in conflict. The characters face significant challenges and are faced with tribulations we can hardly imagine, yet the daily struggles and moments of joy and laughter are shown as well. It was this integration of even the most trivial of things that brings this story to life, and somehow made the story even more tragic, depicting the continuity and normalization of living always with the possibility of death lurking beyond.

The range of characters that Hemingway creates is incredible. Robert Jordan is the typical driven military man who won't allow himself to feel emotion, then encounters love. But the exploration of his mental tenacity takes this common character, and makes him a brilliant protagonist. His willingness to sacrifice anything for what he believes to be a great cause is presented in such a humble manner that is just incredible. Alongside him, we have Pilar, the aging woman, wise and fiery, brutal and loving. Her motivations and limitations were written so realistically, and that is what sets these characters apart from most other fictional characters. I could go through a long list of the unique characters here, but my point is that if you read this, you will come away feeling an intense connection with each and every person. That is one of Hemingway's greatest qualities as a writer.


Alongside the wonderful prose and characterization, the plot is also brilliant. A series of twists and turns, of big and small events that expertly drove the pace forward at what I felt to be near perfection. There were scenes that slow the pace down and really make you think as a reader, and then there are those heart pounding moments that drew me into the chaos taking place, from the skirmishes to moments of clarity and the times when all seems to have descended into failure.

I think you know by now; I loved this book. Hemingway presents ideas of love, anger, hatred, discrimination and determination in such nuanced ways that are genuinely moving.


For Whom the Bell Tolls is an amazing book that not only delivers a thrilling read, but also has an intense moral code that one can aspire to follow.
Profile Image for Natalie Vellacott.
Author 20 books864 followers
November 29, 2017
Oh dear, I fear this review will be lambasted and that people will note that this is the second time I have dismissed a "classic" this week. In my defence, I did enjoy Orwell's Animal Farm.

I really wanted to like this and persevered to past the half way point. But when I got to the stage where I was dreading picking up the book as I was finding it so monotonous, I decided enough was enough--it was going back to the library from whence it came.

The lengthy novel tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.

By the half-way point, he still hadn't blown up the bridge but was instead engaging in seemingly never-ending debate about why it needed blowing up, how to do it, whether or not everyone in his group was in favour of the destruction .....the list could go on but I will spare you. I turned each page wondering if it would be the culmination of 250 pages of planning but sadly it was not to be. Or maybe that was a good thing because the soldiers guarding the bridge were spared for another day.

Imagine writing down every single action you take in a typical day from morning until evening whether relevant and interesting or not. Then gather a group of people and ask them to do the same. Then merge the pages and you have this book.

There is limited bad language although I found it amusing that for the stronger language they have simply inserted the word "obscenity" whether it made sense or not. There is some violence and some sexual content. The content wasn't offensive enough to put me off. I just thought this was extremely dull...

I now await the barrage of comments bemoaning my ignorance and explaining why I should have been excited about this book.....please feel free.
Profile Image for C..
Author 20 books410 followers
December 6, 2008
I can't understand how anyone would dislike this book. I loved "The Windup Bird Chronicle," but I understand how one wouldn't enjoy it. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," however, was one of those classics that was so perfect, so profoundly moving and yet just enjoyable to read, that I can't comprehend the negative review. Like "Anna Karenina," "Crime and Punishment," or "Native Son," its one of those cornerstones of literature that utterly justified its spot in the cannon. The characters were perfectly wrought, and achingly human, with each life being so significant and yet miniscule in the face of war.

It's true that Hemingway can't write a real woman to save his life (Pilar is fantastic, but really he writes her as a man), and Maria's adoration of Robert gets tiresome, but really that's the only false note in this entire epic. For everyone who complains about the stilted dialogue, the dialogue is one of the strokes of absolute genius. Yes, it sounds unnatural, but that's because Hemingway is perfectly capturing how people who don't speak the same native language communicate -- the dialogue is in actually in Spanish between the American Robert and the Spanish guerillas. It's brilliant.
Profile Image for Guille.
784 reviews1,748 followers
August 12, 2020
Una de mis mayores decepciones como lector. Lleno de tópicos, los diálogos, interiores o no, me parecieron sosos y superficiales.
Profile Image for Garrett Burnett.
Author 9 books17 followers
July 9, 2008
I have a hard time with Mr. Hemingway, I guess. For Whom the Bell Tolls didn't involve as much rampant drinking as many of his other books, but I blame that on the setting—a cave in the mountains where only a few gallons of wine were available (and a flask of absinthe, the flavor of which is described over the course of about thirty pages). However, his standard sexism toward the female characters still applied. Here are a few more things I didn't like about the book:
*Did he really have to write "rope-soled shoes" every time he mentioned their footwear or even their feet?
*The dialogue was the standard stiff Hemingway dialogue, but somehow it seemed even more wooden.
*Every Spanish character goes by a first name or a nickname. Not Robert Jordan, the American. He is Robert Jordan (full name) at every mention.
*Robert Jordan finds the love of his life in about 17 minutes. Leave it to the Papa to churn out a beautiful and realistic love story.
*Every character is so up front with every emotion and the writing was so repetitive (here is my dramatic interpretation): He was frightened. "I say these things because I am frightened," said the frightened man. or She felt herself falling in love with the Hemingway-like main character. "I feel myself falling in love with you," she told him. "Yes," he replied. "You are falling in love with me."

I liked a few things about this one: the power struggles, the descriptions of war strategies at various levels of command... Also, it must have been all right because it held my weak attention pretty well despite how slowly the story unfolded. Also, it ended well. Well, it ended, anyway.
Profile Image for Henk.
875 reviews
April 29, 2021
Some chapters are brilliant, but overal this was a really long-winded read about the dehumanising and demoralising experience of modern day warfare
”War is a bitchery.”

A very male book in a sense, with a lot of dialogue and a very old fashioned way of speech (more William Shakespeare like than rural Spanish in my view). The language Ernest Hemingway uses is sparse, with weird repetitions, first of which is that the name of protagonist Robert Jordan is being mentioned every page around 3 times. Only while reading For Whom the Bell Tolls I gradually began to understand it was meant as a reflection of the translation of Spanish to English, also partly explaining the lack of variety in dialogue, nearly like how Kazuo Ishiguro wrote his Japanese character in his first two novels:
“Poor man,” she said. “He was very brave. And you do that same business?”
“You have done trains, too?”
“Yes. Three trains.”
“In Estremadura,” he said. “I was in Estremadura before I came here. We do very much in Estremadura. There are many of us working in Estremadura.”

How Robert Jordan gets with the girl he meets at the start of the book after a few hours is James Bond like, as is how he as American outsider is able to takeover a Spanish guerrilla movement. However in for instance chapter 10 Hemingway shows his brilliance with a harrowing tale on the uprising in a small village and what war between neighbors actually means, with executions and mass killings.

Why could’t Pilar narrate the book, I started to think more often as the book progressed: her stories are actually interesting and touching, and she is a very interesting character as even the narrator himself notes:
“You are a very hard woman,” he told her.
“No,” Pilar said. “But so simple I am very complicated.

Another thing I wondered about was if bull fighting really such a thing, I mean everything anyone is reminiscent about seems related to bull fighting any half of the metaphors are about how fighting the fascists is as a lost case as the bull charging into the arena.

Sometimes the writing has an excessive feel of and/then, and in general I thought this was really a slow book, but then there is a brilliant chapter 27 about a siege of a hill and I was compelled to read on. Maria with her trauma has more depth than I thought, and even if chapter 37 has a horribly protracted yet oblique sexscene but also fine observations about life in general:
How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think, than in all the other time. I’d like to be an old man and to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew about so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.

Overall I felt this classic was a mixed bag, with the glimmers of brilliance in various chapters, including Chapter 42 which clear eyed shows the futility of ideology and the stupidity of the war, the helplessness and power hunger of those in charge, not being enough to make this an engaging read.

Plenty overwhelmed. Golz was gay and he had wanted him to be gay too before he left, but he hadn’t been.
All the best ones, when you thought it over, were gay. It was much better to be gay and it was a sign of something too. It was like having immortality while you were still alive. That was a complicated one.
- I know it's a bit high school of me, but I found this usage of the word gay (not to mention hotel Gaylords) unintentionally hilarious in the solemnity of Hemingway his writing.

"It is not cowardly to know what is foolish.”
“Neither is it foolish to know what is cowardly,”

Your nationality and politics didn’t show when you’re dead

It was easier to be part of a regime than to fight it

Why don’t you ever think of how it is to win? You’ve been on the defensive for so long that you can’t think of that. Sure. But that was before all that stuff went up this road. That was before all the planes came. Don’t be so naïve. But remember this that as long as we can hold them here we keep the fascists tied up. They can’t attack any other country until they finish with us and they can never finish with us. If the French help at all, if only they leave the frontier open and if we get planes from America they can never finish with us. Never, if we get anything at all. These people will fight forever if they’re well armed.

No you must not expect victory here, not for several years maybe. This is just a holding attack. You must not get illusions about it now. Suppose we got a break-through today? This is our first big attack. Keep your sense of proportion. But what if we should have it? Don’t

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.

He looked down the hill slope again and he thought, I hate to leave it, is all. I hate to leave it very much and I hope I have done some good in it. I have tried to with what talent I had. Have, you mean. All right, have.

I have fought for what I believed in for a year now. If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it. And you had a lot of luck, he told himself, to have had such a good life.
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
531 reviews280 followers
July 14, 2021
ارنست همینگوی در کتاب این ناقوس مرگ کیست ؟ خواننده را با خود به اسپانیا و جنگ داخلی وحشتناک آن برده ، او که در جنگ داوطلبانه شرکت کرده بود از تجارب خود به استادی استفاده کرده و محیط داستان ، کوهستان های آن ، برف ناگهانی اواخر ماه مه ، روحیه پارتیزان ها ، همه عوامل را با استادی در داستان توصیف کرده و رمانی ساخته فراموش نشدنی .
آشکار است که همینگوی هم بر موضوع جنگ داخلی اسپانیا اشراف کامل دارد ، در دل این داستان جنگی ، نویسنده فرصتی پیدا کرده است تا ریشه های شر و خشونت را در جامعه اسپانیا را نشان خواننده دهد ، خشونتی که تنها مربوط به فاشیستها نیست ، جمهوری خواهان هم پا به پای فاشیستها آدم می کشند ، خشونت نهادینه شده ای که در اسپانیا وجود داشته و پیشتر نمونه ای از آن را در کتاب خانواده پاسکال دوآرته خوانده بودیم در این کتاب به صورت کامل
خانواده پاسکال دوآرته
و شوکه کننده ای خود را نشان می دهد . گویا سرنوشت محتوم جامعه اسپانیا و افراد حاضر در کتاب
لاجرم باید به این جنگ داخلی و تسویه حسابی خونین ختم می شد .
اما در دل این دنیا سیاه و تار ، عشقی هم غنچه می زند و کم کم پا می گیرد( این هم از نبوغ نویسنده است که هر دو وجه اسپانیا را نشان می دهد : این مردم زمانی که خوب باشند بهترین هستند و زمانی که بد باشند بدترین ) . نویسنده با بیان گذشته سخت و غم انگیز ماریا ، آرامش و آسایش او را در دل جنگل به خواننده نشان می دهد ، گویی تنها زمان خوش زندگی او همان چند روز اندک زیستن با یار است .
همچنین همینگوی یکی از مرموزترین کاراکترها را در سیمای پابلو آفریده است ، پابلو داستان کم از هیولا یا شیطان ندارد ، یک شر مطلق است که در هر صفحه کتاب خواننده را می تواند کاملا شوکه کند .
در پایان روز ماموریت فرا می رسد ، ناقوس مرگ هم به صدا درمی آید ، یک نبرد بیهوده دیگر هم تمام می شود و می گذرد ومانند همیشه این خشونت و شر است که ادامه پیدا می کند ....
Profile Image for Jay Schutt.
259 reviews89 followers
July 21, 2020
Hemingway is an acquired taste. Reading his works is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. I liked the taste of this one. Although, I was skeptical for the first 400 pages. For me, the best part of the book came in the last 70 pages and took forever to come and I was richly rewarded. The result was satisfying.
Profile Image for Scott.
292 reviews317 followers
November 26, 2017
The writer was a bearded bulk of a man. His carousing had earned him a reputation. He drank hard and worked harder, penning stories filled with drinkers, bullfighters, soldiers and simple words.

He sometimes wrote in short sentences. Sometimes quite short. Sometimes very. Sometimes.

His style was distinctive. It was often parodied. Sometimes in book reviews.

He shot elephants for sport. He murdered lions. He fished Marlins. He watched Andalusian bulls die slow deaths while Spaniards danced around them. This made him look strong and feel strong, a macho man in a world of the same.

Posterity has not been kind to manliness of this sort.

His book, however, has remained strong. For Whom The Bell Tolls’ binding has weathered many summers, the hot Spanish sun etching lines into its covers, but it still has much vigour. It is spry and tough and bristles with sharp sentences that flash in the afternoon light. The book still takes all challengers, holding court in its sun-baked piazza, its old haunches disguising a muscular story that is a match for any young pretender.

This is a story of life and love and death. In the book a young American fights. He fights a vicious war with good people for a doomed cause in a beautiful country. He fights for a bright, true idea knowing that he will never see it realised, fighting all the harder in that knowledge.

The young man meets a young woman, a fellow warrior. She is scarred by the war, her family left motionless at the foot of a pock-marked wall whose surface had been so shaped by fascist bullets. They find something together, peace in the midst of carnage, and both must confront what their duty will mean for their new love.

Through it all vibrant, tortured, politically riven Spain looms in the background. A nation at a crossroads, a place so clearly dear to the writer’s heart.

There is beauty here, in this novel. There are sentences so crisp and clear that you can see the trout sparkling in them as they head upstream. But it is a harsh beauty.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, is one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, but this no feel-good story. The writer saw Spain die, prostrate under the boot of fascism. He knew there were no happy endings there. It is a foolish reader who approaches this work expecting cheer in its final pages.

Among the writer’s many strengths was bravery in his work. Hemingway never turned the wheel of his stories when a reef was sighted at journeys end. He clung to the helm while his grateful readers’ hearts were torn and broken on the rocks.
Profile Image for Blair.
134 reviews119 followers
March 26, 2019
The Spanish are very emotional, passionate people. Hemingway wanted English readers to feel the passion of their language so he employed a few stylistic devices in his prose to convey that emotion. Hence, alot of 'thee and thou' and alot of implied literal translations. It's a sore point with many critics, but I thought it worked very well. It comes off sounding a bit Shakespearean in tone, which is suitable, I think, considering 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' is a tragic story of war and its collateral damage.

Robert Jordan, the main protoganist, is a cool, young, level-headed American in the International Brigades fighting in the Spanish Civil War. The republican guerilla unit he is attached to is a motley crew of undisciplined local peasants, all highly emotional. It's Jordan's job as the dynamiter, to blow up a strategically important bridge in the middle of a major republican offensive strike against the fascists. With his volatile crew's help.

There is a love story (very passionate) which is perhaps a bit hard to swallow, considering the entire novel takes place in the span of 3 days, but hey, the Spanish are passionate right? I'm ok with it though, because the story is a microcosm of the larger picture of the Spanish people and the fallout of war. We also learn of the complexity of the political environment leading up to the war, which, if you research, is hard to unravel, but fascinating nonetheless.

It's Hemingway man. I dig Hemingway.
4 and a half stars from me.
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
792 reviews
Shelved as 'abandoned'
October 13, 2017
Reviewed in May 2012

The last Hemingway I read was A Moveable Feast and I enjoyed it a lot. It helped that I was staying in Paris when I read it so there was that extra special feeling we get when we walk the very streets an author describes in his stories. I think it suited Hemingway to write stories, and perhaps short novels - I also remember enjoying The Old Man and the Sea and images from that book stayed with me for years.
In spite of those good experiences, I couldn't relate to this book. I had just finished reading Xavier Cercas' Soldiers of Salamis: A Novel when I picked up For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Cercas' book is a mixture of fact and fiction revolving around events and personalities associated with the Spanish civil war so I figured it was a good idea to follow that reading with this book by Hemingway since it concerns some of the same events. Everything recounted by Cercas, even the fictional parts, have an aura of 'truth' about them. You just believe these events happened and that the characters reacted in the way described. Such a 'truth' is not easy task to convey, especially when the author is working with events which took place more then 60 years previously.

Hemingway wrote his novel much closer to the time of the events described yet I couldn't manage to make that leap into believing in the fiction he was presenting. Most of the characters didn't seem credible to me. The main character, Robert Jordan, whom Hemingway continually refers to by his full name in an awkward way, is not so much a character as a monument to male ego tripping. He is big, he is blonde, he is strong, he is an expert in explosives, he is wise, he is always right and he gets the only girl in the place within minutes of meeting her.

Another of the main characters, who is constantly referred to by Hemingway as 'the wife of Pablo' rather than Pablo's wife, is also a larger than life creation, bearing closer resemblance to some sybil of the ancient world than to a Spanish peasant woman of the 1930's. You admire her wisdom but you just can't believe she's real. Most of the characters speak a dialect of Spanish which H tries to render in English using lots of 'thees' and 'thous' and some convoluted constructions similar to 'the wife of Pablo' above. When this is done in dialogue, I can see the point of it as it reinforces the idea that this is all taking place in Spain, in Spanish. When the author also uses such constructions in narrative passages, it just becomes wearisome to read.

The writing is stiff and awkward, as if written under some invisible constraint, and It lacks any kind of emotion. I am tempted to compare it to watching a man walking about in trousers which are too tight around the crotch, there is that kind of jerky limbs and stilted movement.

Perhaps I would have had a different reaction to this book had I read it at an earlier point in my life. Perhaps then I would have ignored these idiosyncrasies and just concentrated on getting to the end to see how the story turned out. These days, I'm less interested in how the story turns out.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
December 11, 2020
“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”

“For what are we born if not to aid one another?”

The Spanish Civil War was fought from 1936-39. (WWII was fought from 1939-1945, just for a frame of reference). When an initial military coup in Spain failed to win control of the entire country, a bloody civil war ensued. The Nationalists, as the rebels were called, received aid from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The Republicans (with whom our hero Robert Jordan fought) received aid from the Soviet Union as well as a group called The International Brigades, composed of volunteers from Europe and the US.

Ernest Hemingway was in Spain to cover the civil war as a journalist, and some of what he features in For Whom the Bell Tolls, his (fictional) book that takes place during that civil war, is informed by his research there, as well as his general anti-fascist commitments.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of the five central/most important works from the Nobel Prize-winning author from Oak Park, Illinois (where I am now living, the reviewer says, as if Hem had been one of his personal best friends), including also The Sun Also Rises (also taking place in Papa’s beloved Spain, in Pamplona, during the Festival, the Running of the Bulls, focused on a group of drunken revelers including a Hem stand-in); A Farewell to Arms (set during the Italian campaign of WWI, where Frederick Henry has a torrid affair with Catherine Barkley; Hem was an ambulance driver in Italy in WWI, injuring himself and creating the conditions for his novel Farewell, as he fell in love with his nurse while in the hospital: so a war romance); The Old Man and the Sea (a story about an aging fisherman in Cuba and the fish of his life, a marlin), and last but I think his greatest accomplishment, his Collected Stories.

I know a lot of people don’t like Hem now; his treatment of women is seen by many as shallow, romanticized. Is it his macho (bi-polar, some now suspect) personality? Something about his drinking? The no trophy hunting and romanticizing of bull fighting? His satirizably minimalist prose? I dunno, I get all that, but in returning to this book, I still think it is a great novel, one of his literary triumphs.

The Spanish Civil War was a kind of precursor to WWII’s fight against totalitarianism/fascism--Hitler, Mussolini--though in Spain it was Franco. FWTBT is an impassioned plea, published in 1940 just after the second World War began, but before the US was quite committed to it, to fight the forces of fascism worldwide. One could argue that the revolution fell short in Spain, but Hem made the moral case for it in his novel, nevertheless. You have to fight fascism, making war a necessary evil.

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.”

The story is about a University of Colorado Spanish instructor, Robert Jordan, who volunteers, as did many Americans and others from many countries, against Franco. On one level it is a micro-focused close-up story of three days focused on one incident, the blowing of one bridge by Jordan, aided by a ragtag band of guerillas, gypsies, undermanned and beleaguered. It’s also the story of a three-day romance between Jordan and Maria, a but it also includes some finely-etched characters: Pilar, the matriarchal peasant leader, her drunk husband Pablo, the beloved pacifist guide Anselmo. We spend a long time getting ready for an attack that will occasion the dynamiting of the bridge, one small moment in a larger conflict.

The book is hampered by language censorship of the period, so one has to guess what words Hem has in mind when he writes, “I obscenity in the milk of thy mother’s obscenity,” and so on. Which can be annoying, but also amusing sometimes. And maybe the nineteen-year-old Maria is not any more admirable as a female romantic figure than Cat is in Farewell to Arms, but to me the romance really still works after all these years in my re-reading of it. Maybe the effort Hem makes to distinguish between the formal and informal address in Spanish can be a bit annoying, too many “thous” and “thees.” Maybe the stream of consciousness reflection for Jordan goes on too long at times, sure.

But there are powerful scenes in this book that indict the fascists, and also one unforgettable story from Pilar that also indicts the resistance in its cruel killing of some rich fascists in one town, incidents she herself observed. There’s a good Catch 22-like view of the dangers of military miscommunication that goes on behind the lines as Jordan needs to warn the leader Golz that the planned attack must be delayed.

One interesting aspect of the book is the degree to which psychic phenomena can be relied on in living one’s life. Pilar, a person Jordan truly respects as (otherwise) wise, reads his palm and sees a dark future for him; he, typically a rationalist, dismisses any such prophecies as silly superstition. Yet when he makes love with Maria and “the earth moves,” he is unskeptical about the mysteries of love:

“Oh, now, now, now, the only now, and above all now, and there is no other now but thou now and now is thy prophet.”

“What you have with Maria, whether it lasts just through today and a part of tomorrow, or whether it lasts for a long life is the most important thing that can happen to a human being. There will always be people who say it does not exist because they cannot have it. But I tell you it is true and that you have it and that you are lucky even if you die tomorrow.”

Does that sound like a rationalist?! He’s a realist about war and death, but he’s also a romantic existentialist when it comes to love:

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.”

Jordan (and maybe Hem) can’t finally completely dismiss the mystical way his group of gypsies, guerrillas and vagabonds often see the world. He's also about mystery in many ways.

Finally, Jordan/Hemingway is persuasive and admirable when he makes a case for fighting against fascism wherever it rises up:

“It was a feeling of consecration to a duty toward all of the oppressed of the world which would be as difficult and embarrassing to speak about as religious experience and yet it was as authentic as the feeling you had when you heard Bach, or stood in Chartres Cathedral or the Cathedral at León and saw the light coming through the great windows; or when you saw Mantegna and Greco and Brueghel in the Prado.”

Interestingly enough, Jordan also talks with the guerillas about fascism in the US:

“But are there not many fascists in your country?"
"There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”

This is, to me, a great novel, very inspiring and moving with great lyrical passages.
Profile Image for Theo Logos.
703 reviews113 followers
January 8, 2023
For Whom the Bell Tolls melted the Iceberg. My previous attempts at reading Hemingway’s novels had left me cold. It seemed to me that his famous Iceberg Method, which produced short stories that were miniature masterpieces, was an impediment when applied to his novels. The Sun Also Rises told a banal tale populated with characters I hadn’t any desire to spend time with. A Farewell To Arms left me cold, with an emotionally detached protagonists, remote from the horrors of war, whose love affair failed to convey the passion necessary to make me believe. Hemingway’s Iceberg just couldn’t seem to sustain a novel. Then I read For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Hemingway’s method remains intact in For Whom the Bell Tolls. His journalistic realism persists. But the story lives and breaths with passionate intensity. Perhaps it’s his theme of heroism in a doomed cause. Maybe it’s his inclusion of revealing bits of his own psyche. (Robert Jordan, the protagonist, contemplates feeling shame from his father’s suicide.) Or it could just be the inherent excitement of the tale itself — essentially an adventure story about a dangerous mission to blow up a bridge behind enemy lines. Likely it is all of that.

The result was a book that captured me from its opening paragraph to its last sentence. Its characters were alive, compelling, and I was enmeshed within their fates. Jordan’s love affair sparked with true passion, adding poignancy to the doom that constantly hovered, waiting. Hemingway finally allowed his characters to become fully human, and in doing so created a masterpiece.
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