Ben Hobson's Reviews > A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
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's review
Oct 20, 2011

really liked it
Read in June, 2010

My favourite Hemingway book. Not sure why. Old Man and the Sea - too simple. For Whom the Bell Tolls - to wandering. This book sits neatly in the middle.

I found Hemingway's picture of a grand love affair a mite strange. The woman is receptive, and supplicating to the point of narcism. Like all of Hemingway's heroins (at least the ones I've read) they serve merely as reflections of the hero's personality. She has none of her own. No dreams, wants, or needs. Simply to be with her man. And serve him. Is this a reflection of Hemingway's own viewpoint? I've no idea.

To say it's tragic, sad, and a little unnerving, is an understatement. If this is how Hemingway saw his numerous wives, well, maybe the reason for the plural is plain.

The reason though, that I've given this book such a high rating, and the reason it's my personal favourite Hemingway, is it's simplicity, it's movement, and it's language. Hemingway, as always, writes stark. Stark. He leaves us little in the way of insight into his hero's emotional state. I wish more authors took this route. He is almost objective in his description, allowing us to fill in the blanks, insert ourselves into the story. The story is as simple as they come, and yet it moves at a pace, unlike For Whom the Bell Tolls, wherein little happens for a long, long time.

I think this book is an honest one, from early in Hemingway's career. Old Man and the Sea reflects his later years, this reflects the earlier. That is why it's my favourite Hemingway book.


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