July 12, 2012
For Whom The Bell Tolls
A recurring theme in Hemingway's books and short stories is death and tragedy. Whether it's A Farewell To Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls, or Hemingway's short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber death and tragedy are the main themes. Hemingway was consumed with a tragic ending and death to the point you wonder if he was a part of a Shakespeare fan club.
For Whom The Bell Tolls tells the story of Robert Jordan who is with the International Brigades that are fighting the fascists forces during the Spanish Civil War. Jordan is sent behind enemy lines to blow up a bridge with the help of antifascists guerrillas. While with the guerrillas forces Jordan falls in love with Maria and describes the horrors of civil war and the fear of the fascists airplanes.
Jordan eventually blows the bridge but he is maimed when his horse is shot out from underneath him from a tank. Knowing he would only slow down the guerrillas Jordan says goodbye to Maria and prepares an ambush on the fascists. The book ends with Jordan preparing to attack.
The language in this book caused me to stop reading it a couple of times. What I mean is that not only does Hemingway use Shakespeare themes, but also Shakespeare language to translate the Spanish in the book. There are a lot of sentences in the book that have "Thy" or "Thou" along with sentences in Spanish. This hosh-posh of language can make For Whom The Bell Tolls a hard read.
If you can get past the hard language I would recommend reading this book. Hemingway's portrayal of civil war and the fear of death to soldiers is beautiful. Hemingway's portrait of the hilly landscape and the harsh conditions the guerrillas lived in is wonderful.
My questions to you is what Hemingway books or short stories have you read? What are your favorites? And what did you like or hate Hemingway's work?