Ernest Hemingway and A Farewell To Arms
“We did not do the things we wanted to do; we never did such things” (Hemingway 13). This single sentence voiced early in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms by the American protagonist, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, sums up the rather pessimistic and drab tone and mood presented in Hemingway’s works, particularly this novel, which also reflects the pessimistic and judgmental mind housed within the author. Regardless of the unhappy circumstances and heart-breaking situations which prevail throughout the novel, A Farewell To Arms certainly deserves a place in a listing of works of high literary merit.
Born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois at the closing of the 19th century, Hemingway soon abandoned the Land of Lincoln and exposed himself to the pain, suffering and defeat of humanity as a reporter for several American newspapers. Characterized as a “robust, belligerent American hero” (Donaldson 13), his experience in the arenas of deep-sea fishing, bullfighting, boxing and hunting, coupled with his professional life as a war correspondent and ambulance driver in the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars, the Greco-Turkish War in 1920 and the Spanish Civil War between 1937 and 1938 well qualify Hemingway as a recorder of the human condition during times of conflict and of pain, which is clearly evident in A Farewell To Arms.
Hemingway’s life would further prove to be one of extremes. Rising to the prestige of attaining the status of Pulitzer and Nobel laureate in 1953 and 1954 respectively, plus the added honour of receiving the 1954 Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he fell unfortunately and dramatically…
…such things” (Hemingway 13). But perhaps others will…
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Ernest Hemingway. New York: Chelsea House, 1987
Donaldson, Scott, ed. New Essays on A Farewell to Arms. New York: Cambridge UP, 1990.
Elliott, Ira. “A Farewell to Arms and Hemingway’s Crisis of Masculine Values.” LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 4.4 (1993) 291-304.
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell To Arms. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.
Norris, Margot. “The Novel as War: Lies and Truth in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 40.4 (1994): 689-710.
Reynolds, Michael, et al. Critical Essays on Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. New York: Maxwell, 1994.
Wagner-Martin, Linda. Ernest Hemingway: Seven Decades of Criticism. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1998.