A FAREWELL TO ARMS is one of Hemingway's earliest novels. With much of the material loosely based on his own personal experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I, the story captures in great detail the conflict in all of its horror and barbarism.
The book invites us to imagine all of the brave soldiers who went into the war in search of glory. What they found instead was the endless stalemate and hideous prospect of trench warfare. Perhaps more than any other war in the history of warfare, the first World War changed the traditional paradigms of how wars were fought and what the objectives of engagements were. Hemingway, who was there himself, serves as a perfect instrument to portray what it was really like.
The plot centers around Frederick Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army (a job Hemingway performed himself). Henry is a typical masculine Hemingway male persona who falls in love with a beautiful, long-haired & impetuous British nurse named Catherine Barkley. Henry is an exemplar of the WWI soldier who gets more than he bargains for in the war; betrayal and ignominious soldiering of the Italians in the wake of defeat.
The tragic irony of this novel is what makes it so memorable. Henry, as a wounded man who withdraws from the battle, as well as the whims of the Italian Army. However, he does so only to find that life is full of tragedy whether you're in a war or not.
I would highly recommend this novel to all fans of Hemingway, American literature and World War I period historical and literary works. It is with the subtle prose of Heminway that we can be effectively transported back to that epoch of our world history.
A classic novel of WWI, June 29, 2002
D. Roberts "Hadrian12" (Battle Creek, Michigan United States)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Hemingway's best novel but some strong writing:, October 6, 2009
SusieQ (New York) - See all my reviews