A Farewell to Arms


A Farewell to Arms (1929) evokes so much in spite of Hemingway's pared-down prose and the oftentimes banal subject matter Henry, its protagonist, reports to us. Using so little, Hemingway created a powerful story, through which I could feel the mostly grief but also occasional joy, or at least hope, stirring below the surface. Set during World War I in Italy, and later in Switzerland, the novel comprises five parts, or books, each quite different in setting and narrative though pieced together in a solid, realistic story arc. I like the subtle ways this novel takes on the illusions of honor and glory in war. Hemingway here shows, while Henry rarely tells. And sadly love, just as war does, may give rise to loss, for which there too is no reparation. An all-around excellent book that plants vivid pictures in the head alongside unanswered yet fundamental questions.