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For Whom the Bell Tolls

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  256,201 ratings  ·  6,825 reviews
In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight," For Whom the Bell Tolls. The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells ...more
Paperback, UK / CAN, 471 pages
Published 1995 by Scribner (first published October 1940)
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Elwood Bergman Spanish, as many other languages, has retained informal pronouns which we have lost in English. "Thee" and "thou" used to be informal words, only used…moreSpanish, as many other languages, has retained informal pronouns which we have lost in English. "Thee" and "thou" used to be informal words, only used to address friends and younger people. It is our equivalent to tú, as opposed to usted. Part of what makes this great literature, I think, is that he gives a sense of how this culture can be both formal and familiar at the same time. Hemingway also does this in his use of heavily censored, but abundant expletives. It wouldn't have been the same if he wrote it any other way.(less)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Barry Pierce
'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
...more
Tom
Jun 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it
”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 ha
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
(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
...more
stew
Feb 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Matt
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-novels
“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
...more
Adrianne Mathiowetz
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 t
...more
Mutasim Billah
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, war, spain
“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 to
...more
Lisa
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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,
...more
Loretta
Suffice it to say, I am not a Hemingway fan.
Madeline
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-list
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 s
...more
C.
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Natalie Vellacott
Sep 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics
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,
...more
Garrett Burnett
May 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Fionnuala
May 19, 2012 marked it as abandoned
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
...more
Scott
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 aroun
...more
Blair
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-classic
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 collate ...more
Jay Schutt
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, owned
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.
emma
Jan 21, 2021 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
actually kind of brave of me to have a book on my tbr for 5 years without even thinking about reading it
Michael Finocchiaro
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 full support of Hitler (while promised support for the Catalonians from Britain and F ...more
Cynthia
May 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
You know you’ve devoured a good book when after going over the last line you feel somewhat ethereal - an unworldly feeling of satisfaction. Well, that is what I felt with this book.

This is my first of Hemingway and my second war novel (first was Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five).
When I picked it up from my book rack, I told myself “Hmmm.. Hemingway. This must be a difficult book”, but I was proven wrong. Hemingway’s stylistic choice of words, the density and intelligent distribution of his sente
...more
Dave Schaafsma
“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
...more
Thomas
A little better than Hemingway's other books, but that does not say much. For Whom the Bell Tolls has all the Hemingway staples: an obsession with war and violence, an over-idealization of romantic love, and lackluster writing. But he does improve in some areas from his past books. He includes Pilar, a complex and empowered woman whose strength sets her apart from Hemingway's more meek, modest female characters. Hemingway also makes Robert Jordan, our protagonist, a little more thoughtful, as he ...more
Roman Clodia
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

A devastating novel about war (the Spanish Civil War, specifically), death, killing and connection. Hemingway blends a hard-hitting 'action' story of a small group of Republican partisans behind fascist lines on a mission to blow up a bridge with a profound meditation on liv
...more
Tamoghna Biswas
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
Excellent and devastating at the same time, just felt like adding the words as it came across my mind today. RTC.
Luís
"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 which 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 brave, who disillusioned, who broken, who determined, bound by hatred of the enemy, prisoners of their c
...more
William Gwynne
Full Review - BookNest - For Whom the Bell Tolls

‘This is a story of death rather than defeat. The certainty of death is examined’

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a brilliant story inspired from true events during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Of 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. It is a book that not only deli
...more
Geoff
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won't deny my youthful bloody-lust to travel afar and get the girl and die in valor "fighting the good fight"- before those words were emptied by experience and observation-; and to read the messages-in-bottles (all polished sea-glass smooth by now) my teenage self is tossing into a flood tide from far, far away in some distant dimension (where he hardly resembles myself, and I am ashamed of him) this book is "written-well". I perfectly remember my parent's back porch and sun-struck green afte ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Two young lovers find each other in the midst of war - and fight an inner battle between duty and happiness. The bell tolls for us all at some point, but do we hear it in time to awake to an authentic life before it is silent?
Chaunceton Bird
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Monumental, heavy, and beautifully written. But the longest three days ever.
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Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while 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, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collec ...more

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