Publisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster/Scribner. 2020. Originally published in 1940.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature. War literature. American literature.
Audience: Readers of classic literature, Hemingway stories, and war literature.
This book is the Hemingway Library Edition. It includes a foreword by Patrick Hemingway and an introduction by Sean Hemingway.
This is “1” of the most fun reviews I’ve written.
I love how the book surprised me in a good way. I didn’t know I’d like it. I certainly didn’t expect to love it.
I am a lover of Charles Dickens’ stories. As you know, Dickens’ stories are long-winded with lengthy descriptions and sentences. Hemingway is not. He is at the opposite spectrum of the literary style of Dickens. And, still, I fell in love with, For Whom The Bell Tolls.
This edition includes other supplementary writings. It has 3 short stories Hemingway wrote. It has early drafts of For Whom The Bell Tolls. It includes a speech Hemingway gave titled, Fascism Is A Lie. And, Hemingway’s personal account of the Spanish Civil War.
For Whom The Bell Tolls is the story of an American volunteer serving in an anti-fascist guerilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. The war was defined as freedom versus fascism, 1936-1939.
Robert Jordan is the American who is fighting as a volunteer. He is the main character the story centers on.
He is with a small group of other fighters which include 2 women.
The setting is in the Mountains of Spain.
The structure of the story is dialogue between the men, the goal to blow up a bridge, the enemy who is the antagonist, a love interest, internal and external conflicts, and a climax.
For Whom The Bell Tolls is a story with a great background story. For example, Ernest Hemingway himself observed first hand the Spanish Civil War when he was a war correspondent. He found the name for the book from the poem written by John Donne. He consulted his son, Patrick, about a particular detail needed in the story. Patrick was 11 at the time this book was written.
Reasons why I love this story!
1. The sentences are crisp and to the point.
2. I was shown the careful patience, watching, judging, decision making, and the planning needed to implement an attack for a battle.
3. I love the dialogue between the men. They tease one another. They make cutting remarks. They provoke one another, especially if it is an enemy.
4. Major themes in the story: courage, power of love, bravery, revenge, honesty, perseverance, death and dying, passion, and honor.
5. The conflicts are external and internal. An external conflict is the war and the opposing enemy. An internal conflict is when a battle goes wrong and the person blames self.
6. I love the point in the story where Robert Jordan reflects on a memory he has about his childhood.
7. The material of the story is arranged chronological. With the exception of a childhood memory of Robert Jordan, it is the present situation where the story holds.
8. The pace of the story is steady. There is a sense of control-controlling the reader to hold and concentrate on each scene.
9. Sometimes an author is too manipulative with the pacing of characters and events. It is apparent. I believe Hemingway is understated. He is the person telling the story, but he tells the story in a way that allows events and people to unfold at the right time.
10. My favorite reason! The love story between Robert Jordan and Maria. If you are a man and have not figured a particular thing out about women, Robert Jordan holds a lesson. Females love tenderness. I don’t care how old a female is they respond to tenderness. I believe this is one of the reasons why females fall prey to sweet-talk. Robert Jordan is patient, tender, gentle, and loving to Maria who has been abused in her past. I love the language used to describe his thoughts and passion for Maria. They are real, precise, honest, and clear feelings. Their love is not one of fiery passion, but it is one defining a bond, a unity, a sweet intimacy, and a place of tranquility between them. When they are together the war is at a far distance. I’ve read many romance stories. Most of them it’s all heat and passion. Robert Jordan and Maria slow down in their love making. They take their time despite the war.
An honorable mention in the story is on page 61. It is night. The men are discussing killing a person they believe is an enemy. At that moment an owl passes overhead. The owl flew in silence. The owl is hunting. “‘Look at him,’ gypsy said in the dark. ‘Thus should men move.'” I love the use of the imagery of the owl with the problem in the group of men.