“Why, darling, I don’t live at all when I’m not with you.” A Farewell To Arms
Just last night I finished A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway, and I am relieved to have finished!
The book moved very slowly, going between scenes at the war and at the hospital with the main characters lover. While the book went into great detail about the settings and the landscapes, there was very little character development or interesting dialogue between characters. Because of this the main character, Frederic Henry, really didn’t seem to come alive at all in my mind.
I was not expecting the understated style in the beginning. While there is nothing wrong with that style, the way Hemingway used it made it difficult to develop an idea of the characters and tone. In the first half of the novel some of the most exciting scenes to me were when the main character became wounded and a few of the events from while he was at the hospital. But these exciting scenes were few and far between.
It wasn’t until that last third of the novel that I felt excited by what was happening in the book. When Henry and the Italian army began to retreat and when Henry ran away to see his lover is when I felt the most emotion coming off the page. It was during these scenes that Hemingway described the feelings of war and love best.
Unfortunately that wasn’t enough. The end of the book continued showing emotions similar to earlier scenes, but the end was too understated to be satisfying. What’s worse is that the edition I bought included other endings that Hemingway had written, and I would have preferred that any of those be the actual ending than what really was.
The only thing more disappointing than the ending? The characters and dialogue. Catherine, Henry’s lover, was unbearable, her childishness being more annoying then charming. The dialogue was clogged with characters speaking without any indication of who was speaking, making it confusing. The way the characters spoke didn’t help either. Frederic Henry and Catherine never had a conversation outside of telling each other they loved one another, making it difficult to have a deeper understanding or empathy for their relationship.
Have you read this book? Do you agree or disagree with my ideas? Do you still want to read it after seeing my personal review? Join me and let’s explore the world of A Farewell To Arms!