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Ernest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms

Title: A Farewell to Arms
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Year: 1929

I have great difficulties understanding Ernest Hemingway. After reading The Old Man and the Sea, I, I had no trouble whatsoever understanding why he is so highly regarded. I enjoyed both the brilliant use of language and the simplicity of the story. I have read several of his short stories too, and they have also been very good. However, I have also read two novels which I found boring and uninspiring. The Sun Also Rises is one of them and, the subject of this review, A Farewell to Arms, is the other.

This story takes place in Italy during the Great War, and narrates a brief episode in the life of an American ambulance driver called Frederic Henry, how he is wounded and falls in love with a nurse. The novel’s focus is divided between the front and the harsh realities of war, as well as the more peaceful environment of a military hospital and his newly found love.

Some parts of this novel are interesting and well worth reading, especially the first few parts. What bothers me is that the story totally loses momentum somewhere around halfway, and just does not manage to finish gracefully. In fact, the last two parts of the novel feel like an over-extended epilogue. These parts being totally devoid of interesting content, I cannot possibly like this book. If the entire book would have resembled the last few chapters, I would probably give a grade of one snail or less.

However, that is not the case, and, admitting that he is good at writing, especially dialogue, I grant Hemingway two snails. I still do not understand him or A Farewell to Arms, though. How can I like some of his works so much, and then just not get the point of others?

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