Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Oh. My. Word.

I started reading this novel at the end of December.

I just now finished it. Well, I finished it last night, but still.

Granted, I was reading another book at the same time, but trust me when I say that wasn't really the problem. Because this book is, in a word, tedious.

Listen, I know it's a classic. I do. And I have read and enjoyed plenty of classics, including ones that used far more difficult language (and were far longer) than this one. The thing is, until you get to about the last three or four chapters For Whom the Bell Tolls d r a g s. I felt like Brian the dog from Family Guy, explaining the Blair Witch Project to the blind person...only with slightly different wording:

"'They’re in the woods...Nothing’s happening…nothing’s happening…something about a bridge.  Nothing’s happening…it’s over.”

Also, I'm not sure how I felt about the relationship between Robert Jordan, the main character, and his lover Maria. At times it felt like something I've experienced before...that idea that someone is perfect and perfect for you and that in just a few days you can completely fall in love with that person. At other times the whole thing felt forced and gave me a bad taste in my mouth in regards to how Robert Jordan thought about and talked to the girl. In the end Maria, poor innocent naive Maria, was the only character I felt anything for or about. The rest of them just got on my nerves.

The thing is, I've read other Hemingway works and loved them, but this one...I just didn't care for. At all. It had a few decent moments but in the end it was just too long and dragged too much to be worth any more than 2/5 stars

Regardless of the fact that it is considered a classic.



"'...for every one there should be some one to whom one can speak frankly, for all the valor that one could have one becomes very alone.'"

"'And you have no fear?'
'Not to die,' he said truly.
'But other fears?'
'Only of not doing my duty as I should.'"

"'To make war all you need is intelligence. But to win you need talent and material.'"

"Bigotry is an odd thing. To be bigoted you have to be absolutely sure that you are right and nothing makes that surety and righteousness like continence. Continence is the foe of heresy."

"So if your life trades its seventy years for seventy hours I have that value now and I am lucky enough to know it."

"...living as we do now you must concentrate all of that which you shoudl always have into the short time that you can have it."

"...neither bull force nor bull courage lasted, she knew now, and what did last? I last, she thought. Yes, I have lasted. But for what?"

"'You are not supposed to like things. Only to understand.'"

"All right. He would write a book when he got through with this. But only about the things he knew, truly, and about what he knew. But I still have to be a much better writer than I am now to handle them, he thought."

"'I do not wish to change. It is better to be one and each one to be the one he is.'"

"'Listen, old one,' Robert Jordan said. 'It is because of the lack of time that there has been informality. What we do not have is time. Tomorrow we must fight. To me that is nothing. But for the Maria and me it means that we must live all of our life in this time.'"

"And another thing. Don't ever kid yourself about loving some one. It is just that most people are not lucky enough ever to have it. You never had it before and now you have it. What you have with Maria, whether it lasts just through today and a part of tomorrow, or whether it lasts for a long life is the most important thing that can happen to a human being. There will always be people who say it does not exist because they cannot have it. But I tell you it is true and that you have it and that you are lucky if you die tomorrow."

"If he had known how many men in history have had to use a hill to die on it would not have cheered him any for, in the moment he was passing through, men are not impressed by what has happened to other men in similar circumstances any more than a widow of one day is helped by the knowledge that other loved husbands have died."

"He understood his father and he forgave him everything and he pitied him but he was ashamed of him."

"'I love thee as I love what I love most in the world and I love thee more.'"

"'I would like to bear thy son and they daughter,' she told him. 'And how can the world be made better if there are no children of us who fight against the fascists?'"

"Maybe I have had all my life in three days, he thought. If that's true I wish we would have spent the last night differently. But last nights are never any good."

"He had heard these people talk many times and he thought what they said was often beautiful and fine to hear but he did not like them. It is not liberty not to bury the mess one makes, he thought. No animal has more liberty than the cat; but it buries the mess it makes. The cat is the best anarchist. Until they learn that from the cat I cannot respect them."

"This was the greatest gift that he had, the talent that fitted him for war; that ability not to ignore but to despise whatever bad ending there could be." Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment