I’ve only ever read The Old Man and the Sea, so I thought it was high time I started on some longer Hemingway. Good. Grief. Now I understand why he drank.
A Farewell to Arms focuses on Frederic Henry, who is in Italy fighting the German-Austrian Army during WWI, before the US declared their involvement. Henry meets Elizabeth Barkley an English (or Scottish?) nurse and embarks on a passionate affair. Hemingway juxtaposes the war and the relationship, showing how the stakes become riskier for Henry to become more involved with his comrades and his lover.
Hemingway’s quick, short sentences make up a terse style that fits perfectly when discussing war. The bursts of action are perfectly captured with this style, and it made me feel that I was with Lt. Henry on the front. I was prepared for it not to end well–it is Hemingway, after all.
I was not prepared, to have the world built up only to collapse completely on me. Damn you, Hemingway. I got invested, and then you had to tear it all down. I won’t say anymore, but I was pretty devastated by how badly it ended. I think it’s indicative of modernism just how bleak the world seemed after the War. I do recommend reading it, but just be prepared to be crushed.
You can also read this review on my personal blog, The Universe Disturbed.
I loved this book in high school. I had to defend my love of this book to my closest friends. I bought it a couple years ago because I loved it, though I hadn’t read it again since high school, and I just wanted to have a copy of it because I like having copies of books and movies that I love. I decided to read it for the first time since high school to recall why I loved it so much.
This is a classic that I’m sure most people read in high school (unless you were like me and didn’t actually read half of the books you were supposed to in high school — this was one of the few I did), so I’m just going to share some random thoughts I had on this book:
1. Lady Ashley is one of the original Manic Pixie Dream Girls, if not THE original MPDG. Continue reading
I’ll admit that my knowledge of Ernest Hemingway before reading this book was excruciatingly limited. As in, I saw the portrayal of him in Midnight in Paris and was struck with a serious case of the giggles, and I wasn’t really sure why. So hey, why not actually read something by the guy? He is a “classic” American author, right?
The problem I often find when I read “classic” novels is that I typically end up either frustrated by everything and slamming the book shut for forever, or painfully trudging through something totally disconnected from myself just because of the beauty of the language… However, in this case I was surprisingly fortunate, as The Old Man and the Sea was absolutely stunning to read.
The novel focuses on an old, poor fisherman in Cuba, whose boat is pulled further and further out to sea for days on end by a massive fish that the man is too proud to let go of. From here, we follow the man’s decisive actions while fishing, and his thoughts regarding his life, baseball, and the strange bond of brotherhood he feels forming between himself and the fish. The straight-forward nature of the plot could be seen at face-value as slightly naïve, but it turns out to be quite beautiful in its simplicity: it’s the character of the old man which we are concerned about, and by letting the action unfold in such a minimal and effortless manner, we are able to understand more and more about who the old man really is and what drives him; after being somewhat put-off by his stubbornness at the beginning of the novel, I truly started to care for the him by the end, which is a mark of some truly great character development in my books.
What’s great about Hemingway is that he seems like he doesn’t want to make a big fuss with his writing. He is precise in his use of language and the pace of his prose, which almost parallels the meticulously strict fishing actions of the novel’s protagonist. Not a single word is wasted or unnecessary, yet the scene that unfolds remains rich and vivid, leading me to absolutely adore The Old Man and the Sea, despite some uncertainties when I first picked it up.