dinsdag 5 mei 2015

Ernest Hemingway: For Whom The Bell Tolls


Finished my first novel of the month; For Whom the Bell Tolls. It has 490 pages. It was first published in 1940 and is based on his own experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
After a few chapters I recalled reading this when I was just starting to read adult novels. I can’t remember how I liked it then.
You can find all my Hemingway reviews here.

“In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight", For Whom the Bell Tolls. The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan's love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo's last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms.”

The novel spans just three days but those three days are filled with treason, love, suffering, camaraderie, bravery and dedication. So much so that these few days might and can represent the whole war.
Andres and his message show us how the leaders pull the strings and how they themselves are safely away from the places where the war actually happens. It’s frustrating and aggravating to read what he has to go through to get the stupid message delivered, and in the end, nothing even changes.
For Whom the Bell Tolls is subtle, sweet and almost picturesque; but other scenes were full of suspense, intense and terrifying. It can be a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
The novel gives us great insight into what drives someone, into someone’s passions and beliefs.

The dialogue, as though in translation from Spanish, is crude and basic. But Robert’s inner thoughts are ‘normal’.  This is a very interesting way too remind us that Robert is in another country, alone and talking too people he doesn’t know in a language he studied because in essence, he is a teacher. These dialogues took some getting used to but I liked it this way. Also, Hemingway censors his own writing in this novel! Very funny to read these censored sections.

Robert is not a fascist, so his ‘side’ didn’t win the war as is generally known. And that’s quite surprising; it’s not the way you expect the novel to go. From the very first pages you know their efforts and work were, in the end, to no avail. They lost.
But the violence and murder are carried out by both sides; Hemingway doesn’t try to idolize this group of guerrilla fighters. Fascists and communists alike killed and tortured people.

Hemingway is a wonderful writer and I will definitely read more of his work.

Happy reading!

I had a healthy snack!