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For Whom The Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Vintage
  • Publishing date: 27/05/1999
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780099289821
  • ISBN: 0099289822

Synopsis

For Whom the Bell Tolls begins and ends in a pine-scented forest, somewhere in Spain. The year is 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is in full swing. Robert Jordan, a demolitions expert attached to the International Brigades, lies "flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees." The sylvan setting, however, is at sharp odds with the reason Jordan is there: he has come to blow up a bridge on behalf of the antifascist guerrilla forces. He hopes he'll be able to rely on their local leader, Pablo, to help carry out the mission, but upon meeting him, Jordan has his doubts: "I don't like that sadness, he thought. That sadness is bad. That's the sadness they get before they quit or before they betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out." For Pablo, it seems, has had enough of the war. He has amassed for himself a small herd of horses and wants only to stay quietly in the hills and attract as little attention as possible. Jordan's arrival--and his mission--have seriously alarmed him.
"I am tired of being hunted. Here we are all right. Now if you blow a bridge here, we will be hunted. If they know we are here and hunt for us with planes, they will find us. If they send Moors to hunt us out, they will find us and we must go. I am tired of all this. You hear?" He turned to Robert Jordan. "What right have you, a foreigner, to come to me and tell me what I must do?"
In one short chapter Hemingway lays out the blueprint for what is to come: Jordan's sense of duty versus Pablo's dangerous self-interest and weariness with the war. Complicating matters even more are two members of the guerrilla leader's small band: his "woman" Pilar, and Maria, a young woman whom Pablo rescued from a Republican prison train. Unlike her man, Pilar is still fiercely devoted to the cause and as Pablo's loyalty wanes, she becomes the moral center of the group. Soon Jordan finds himself caught between the two, even as his own resolve is tested by his growing feelings for Maria.

For Whom the Bell Tolls combines two of the author's recurring obsessions: war and personal honor. The pivotal battle scene involving El Sordo's last stand is a showcase for Hemingway's narrative powers, but the quieter, ongoing conflict within Robert Jordan as he struggles to fulfill his mission perhaps at the cost of his own life is a testament to his creator's psychological acuity. By turns brutal and compassionate, it is arguably Hemingway's most mature work and one of the best war novels of the 20th century. --Alix Wilber


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  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
    From Amazon

    The book is fine enough though not what I had expected. Some of the wording in the description led me to expect something else. Also the interior of the package was absolutely filthy with something that appeared to be paper insulation. I got a face full of dust when I opened it. When I contacted the dealer about it he made excuses and said the package was clean when he shipped it. No it wasn't! The filth was INSIDE a sealed envelope. Really disappointing!! I expected better from Amazon. anza66, I won't buy from you again. I will look for other ways to purchase used reading material.

  • Two Thumbs Up
    From Amazon

    This book gathers momentum slowly, but I guarantee that if you stick with it to the end you will be very well rewarded. I enjoyed this book for insight into history as well as military tactics. It's almost like you are behind enemy lines, eavesdropping on what is happening. But the last 40 to 50 pages swiftly gathers momentum both in action and emotional impact. But intertwined is this heart-wrenching love story, at least at the end it's heart-wrenching. I've read four of Hemingway's books, but this one ranks easily at the top. There is so much emotion and character in this book, the stuff that makes us human and heroic, and that makes Hemingway so great. The last 40 pages or so builds so much emotion, suspense, and excitement you cannot put it down--the mission climaxes, the love story climaxes, what a ride!!!

  • Great Novel Read Forty Years Apart [30][68]
    From Amazon

    Written in typical Hemingwayesque ploddingly simple style, this book morphs English and Spanish in a unique manner for its period (1940), which subsequent writers have copied or embellished. Spain is Hemingway's love. During this time, most loved Paris - like friend Fitzgerald,. But, dry heat and bull running mania were for for this man. Spanish sayings abound in this novel about simple people asked to do a job - perhaps simple - in the name of the cause: blow up a bridge. But, the pithy and poignant statements of implyingly illiterate gypsy Pilar cannot be matched by 17th century philosophers. For example Spain, in her words, is "where blasphemy keeps pace with the austerity of religion." When protagonist Robert Jordan speaks English for a short time to some of the group, Pilar tells him to revert to Spanish as "no language is truer." She later concludes that "Spanish is shorter and simpler." And, Hemingway's influence on this language shows as some verbs are paradoxically used -- each time the root of Spanish for English usage. One example is to constantly implement Spanish molestar in English sentences to ask that people stop molesting one another, when the translation is not to bother one another. But, these linguistic nuances are the special effect, the unique style, the cutting edge to the Nobel winning writing style of Hemingway. It is the sentences of Spanglish or otherwise, compounded with his ever seemless simplification, that make this novel resound. I enjoyed this novel also for its slow beginning and its heightening to a crescendo for its ending. His language and other writing angles seem to mature as the novel progresses. He slowly captures the reader, and has you under his exclusive control the last third of the book. Although Hemingway makes this a love story at a time of war, parts are seemingly unreal. Knowing that he is going to die the next day, Robert Jordan meets one last time with beautiful Maria. And, as they are about to start doing the deed, he stops and asks if she hurts. I am sure that you can interview many a disagreeing soldier under similar circumstances and ask if the concept of pain to the sexual partner ever entered their mind when they were having what would perhaps be their last moment of heaven on this man's earth - they would all agree that this was not exactly what they had in mind But, this is a classic and worthy of reading. I waited over 40 years between readings and received very different messages. Each time good.

  • The most epic novel of all time
    From Amazon

    Read it if you haven't read it. The ending is truly enduring - the entire book is a lesson in what it means to be a man.

  • A historical fiction masterpiece. And a look at the Individuals behind the war.
    From Amazon

    FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS is a masterpiece. This historical fiction from Hemingway is in my opinion far better than the other two Hemingway novels that I have read (The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell To Arms), and for the first time triggers the same kind of admiration for Hemingway from me that I had always been so puzzled to see from others. If you're looking for a taste of Hemingway, this is the book I would recommend. If you've read other Hemingway and been less than impressed, try this one before you give up on him completely. This long book takes place over just a few days, and follows Robert Jordan as he works behind enemy lines during the Spanish Civil War. While containing plenty of suspense and action, the primary focus of this book is delving into the psyches of Jordan and the irregulars he recruits for his mission. A stark and honest look into the minds of simple people caught up in the sweeping events of a large war is something Hemingway excels at, and it really shows in this book. While at times being perhaps a bit over the top with the rambling and inane thought processes of his characters, he seemed to ease up on it a bit with this story, instead focusing more on what was relevant and on progressing the story. And personally, I liked Hemingway's use of Spanish and the literal translation during much of the dialogue. Rather than being distracting, I felt that this method helped highlight the romantic nature of the Spanish language (and simultaneously reminded me of some of the basic Spanish that I had forgotten). The characters in this book are also great. Robert Jordan, Maria, Pilar, Pablo, and Anselmo are particularly well-done and unforgettable. Unlike other reviewers, I enjoyed the innocence and sweetness of Maria, and didn't find her to be unrealistic in either her response to mistreatment or her love for Jordan. (Is it that she fell in love so easily? that she is so blindingly trustful? that she is universally kind? or that she manages to not wallow in self-pity, that modern day feminists hate about this character?) Pilar and Pablo are both spectacularly done, being often hilarious and always intensely complicated. Giving faces to these and the other irregulars in this book helps the reader realize the impact on Individuals that wars can have. As a historical fiction, this book is excellent. You'll want to educate yourself more about the time and the circumstances around the Spanish Civil War while reading this book. Interestingly, Hemingway himself was somewhat involved in this war, acting as a journalist, but also supposedly supporting the Republic's fight, even going so far as to help train young men in the use of modern rifles. The content of the story comes off as being very possible, and the battles alluded to come out of real history. Indeed, even some of the peripheral characters are historical figures, including the well-described André Marty (known as the Butcher of Albacete) that played a significant role toward the end of the book. Nicely grounded in historical fact, it makes the reading of this book all that much better. Very highly recommended!!

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