A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway
The following entry presents criticism on Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929). See also, Ernest Hemingway Criticism.
A giant in the field of American literary modernism, Ernest Hemingway has long been called an important spokesman for the “lost generation” of disillusioned, war-wounded young Americans after the First World War. His 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms, a tragic love story about an American ambulance lieutenant and an English nurse, was based on Hemingway's own experiences on the Italian front. In the novel, Hemingway uses his characteristic unadorned prose, clipped dialogue, and understatement to convey an essentially cynical view of the world. Critics were at first skittish about Hemingway's linguistic and sexual frankness but soon began to regard him as a pioneer in establishing a writing style that came to dominate realistic writing for many decades. Although feminist critics have denigrated Hemingway's alleged male bias, and others have found the love story unsatisfying, A Farewell to Arms remains a powerful statement about the effects of the horrors of war on ordinary people.
Plot and Major Characters
A Farewell to Arms is autobiographical in that Hemingway himself was with the Red Cross ambulance corps in Italy and also had a romance with a nurse after he was wounded by shrapnel. His protagonist, Frederic Henry, is a young American who joins the Italian ambulance corps, only to be wounded and sent to a hospital in Milan. He soon falls in love with his English nurse, Catherine Barkley, who then spends a happy summer with him in the country while he recuperates. In the fall, Catherine reveals that she is pregnant but refuses to marry Frederic, fearing that she will be sent back to England and asserting that the two are “married” in all but a legal way. A depressing scene ensues, with Frederic back at the front commiserating with his despondent comrade Rinaldi. With him he shares the further disappointment of the retreat from Caporetto. Discouraged and disillusioned, Frederic deserts, finding his way back to Stresa, to which Catherine has been transferred. Although in civilian clothes, Frederic fears detection, and he and Catherine flee to Lausanne to await the birth of their child. After a traumatic childbirth scene, both Catherine and the child die. Frederic walks away alone in the rain, chastened by his experiences and feeling alone in the universe.
An overarching theme in A Farewell to Arms is the hopelessness of war and the futility of searching for meaning in a wartime setting. Further, Hemingway suggests that the only true values people can cling to are in individual human relationships, not in abstract ideas of patriotism or service. A Farewell to Arms is above all a story of the development of Frederic Henry, who begins as a rather rootless character who does not really know why he joined the war effort. His own wound, however, teaches him to value life and prepares him to enter into a love relationship with Catherine. When Frederic makes his “separate peace” by deserting, he begins to take responsibility for his own actions. By the end of the novel, with love and hope seemingly dead, he has come to an understanding that one must be engaged in life, despite the vicissitudes of an indifferent universe.
Early critics of the novel emphasized its realistic picture of war and disagreed over the effectiveness of Hemingway's laconic literary style. A number of critics were squeamish about the frank language and sexual situations Hemingway presented. A Farewell to Arms was in fact banned in Boston in its first serialization in Scribner's Magazine. By the 1940s, however, proponents of the New Criticism had begun to do closer textual studies of A Farewell to Arms, finding it rich in language, symbolism, and irony. Other critics praised Hemingway's narrative structure and explored themes such as the conflict between abstract ideas (like honor and service) and concrete experience with love and death.
The 1970s and early 1980s saw a new flurry of Hemingway scholarship after his papers and manuscripts were opened to the public at the John F. Kennedy Library, allowing insight into Hemingway's processes of composition. In the early 1970s, feminist critics began to lambast Hemingway for his treatment of the character of Catherine, whom they saw as little more than a projection of male needs and desires. Her relative lack of development, compared with Frederic's evolution as a character, was called a weakness in the novel. In answer to feminist critics, others argued that one should not judge the novel from a particular ideological framework. In the 1980s and 1990s, criticism shifted back to close analyses of the text itself and explorations of the ways in which Hemingway's life and the culture in which he lived influenced the novel. Reader-response critics sought to infer what Hemingway expected from readers, psychoanalytic critics delved into the character of Frederic, and deconstructionists noted subtle uses of language, which often masked deep meanings not at first evident.
Three Stories & Ten Poems (short stories) 1923
in our time (sketches) 1924
In Our Time (short stories) 1925
The Sun Also Rises (novel) 1926; published in England asFiesta (novel) 1926
Today Is Friday (journalism) 1926
The Torrents of Spring: A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of a Great Race (novel) 1926
Men Without Women (short stories) 1927
A Farewell to Arms (novel) 1929
Death in the Afternoon (nonfiction) 1932
Winner Take Nothing (short stories) 1933
Green Hills of Africa (nonfiction) 1935
To Have and Have Not (novel) 1937
Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (short stories and play) 1938
The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (short stories) 1938
The Spanish Earth (criticism and broadcasts) 1938
The Fifth Column: A Play in Three Acts (play) 1940
For Whom the Bell Tolls (novel) 1940
The Portable Hemingway (novels and short stories) 1944
Across the River and Into the Trees (novel) 1950
The Old Man and the Sea (novel) 1952
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SOURCE: A review of A Farewell to Arms, in Now and Then, Vol. 34, Winter 1929, pp. 11–12.
[In the following essay, the Priestley recommends Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms to readers while expressing some reservations about its franker aspects.]
Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms is one of the very best novels that have passed through the hands of the Book Society Committee. Why, then, didn't we choose it? Well, I think anybody who reads our first choice, Whiteoaks,1 and then this novel will understand why. Whiteoaks, an equally good piece of writing, is one of those novels that all sensible readers can enjoy. A Farewell to Arms, far rougher and more outspoken, a brutally masculine performance, is not everybody's book. I am sorry about this, but, at the same time, I am not going to make the fashionable mistake of supposing that this limitation necessarily makes Mr. Hemingway more important than he already is. Literature is not a matter of pleasing Aunt Susan. But we must also remember that it is equally not a matter of simply shocking Aunt Susan.
For some time now, good critics have regarded Mr. Hemingway as one of the most important of the younger American writers of fiction. He is in his thirties, was born in the Middle West, but has lived in Europe, chiefly in Paris, for several years, and most of his work is not about America...
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SOURCE: A review of A Farewell to Arms, in Hemingway: The Critical Heritage, edited by Jeffrey Meyers, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, pp.121–26.
[In the following review, originally published in 1929, Matthews outlines Hemingway's transition in A Farewell to Arms from the realism of war to the idealism of a love story.]
The writings of Ernest Hemingway have very quickly put him in a prominent place among American writers, and his numerous admirers have looked forward with impatience and great expectations to his second novel. They should not be disappointed: A Farewell to Arms is worthy of their hopes and of its author's promise.
The book is cast in the form which Hemingway has apparently delimited for himself in the novel—diary form. It is written in the first person, in that bare and unliterary style (unliterary except for echoes of Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein), in that tone which suggests a roughly educated but sensitive poet who is prouder of his muscles than of his vocabulary, which we are now accustomed to associate with Hemingway's name. The conversation of the characters is as distinctly Hemingway conversation as the conversation in one of Shaw's plays is Shavian. But there are some marked differences between A Farewell to Arms and Hemingway's previous work.
For one thing, the design is more apparent, the material...
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SOURCE: “What Is Dirt?” in The Bookman, November, 1929, pp. 258-62.
[In the following essay, Herrick raises questions about the propriety of certain frank sexual references in A Farewell to Arms, comparing them unfavorably with similarly explicit passages in Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.]
The censor, whatever he may think of himself, is always a ridiculous figure to the impartial observer. Latterly the censoring spirit has been especially active around Boston, that ancient home of witch hangers, offering comic relief to the gods. That a community which could perpetrate the Sacco-Vanzetti outrage on justice should try to suppress Candide and Strange Interlude is but another instance of the marvellous perversion of our mentality when it becomes tangled in the thickets of public morality. A civilization which laps up jazz, even in Boston, goes delirious over smacking contacts in the “close-ups” of movies, and indulges in the semi-nudities of the bathing beach, ought not to be squeamish over a few printed words, no matter how “suggestive” they may be.
What is sexual evil? What “contaminates” the adolescent or even the mature mind? Our generation is still at sea on these points and the efforts of the censor do not make for light. Indeed proscription often advertises and enhances the attraction of a suppressed article. If...
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SOURCE: A review of A Farewell to Arms, in Hemingway: The Critical Heritage, edited by Jeffrey Meyers, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, pp. 126–30.
[In the following review, originally published in 1929, Davidson criticizes what he calls Hemingway's behaviorist, “scientific” approach to writing in A Farewell to Arms.]
Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms is like a direct and most remarkable answer to the recent wish of Dr. Watson,1 prophet of behaviorism, that somebody would write a novel containing people who act in a lifelike and scientific manner. That is exactly what Mr. Hemingway does, with such astounding verity as to overwhelm, befuddle and profoundly impress all readers. Mr. Hemingway here is playing scientist, and he is watching people behave. It is a mistake to suppose that people behave morally or immorally, becomingly or unbecomingly. That is not the point at all: they merely behave. There is no good, no ill, no pretty, no ugly—only behavior. Behaviorism argues that there is stimulus and response, nothing else, and Mr. Hemingway's books contain (ostensibly, but not quite) nothing else. The novel is a bold and exceptionally brilliant attempt to apply scientific method to art, and I devoutly hope that all the scientists will read it and admire it intensely.
This comment on a book that is apparently taking the public by storm...
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SOURCE: A review of A Farewell to Arms, in Hemingway: The Critical Heritage, edited by Jeffrey Meyers, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, pp. 134–35.
[In the following review, originally published in 1929, Hartley states that A Farewell to Arms is particularly interesting because of its account of war on the Italian front.]
Mr. Hemingway is a novelist of the expatriated. Fiesta showed us a group of Americans and one Englishwoman being violently idle, first in Paris and then in Spain. They went to bull-fights, they made love, they drank. Above all, they drank. They were not congenial company even in a book, but they knew how to get the utmost out of their emotions, and though bored and desperate, they were seldom dull.
The same characters, or others like them, reappear in A Farewell to Arms. There is an English woman serving as a nurse in the Italian Red Cross, there is an American who has joined the Italian army for no better reason than that he speaks the language. There is the Continental scene as envisaged by a thirsty Anglo-Saxon: cafés, vermouths, drinks—unlimited drinks. There is the same dialogue between the lovers, the American soon cuts out Catherine's Italian admirer—trivial, pregnant, witty, yet coming from the heart and charged with a plangent emotion. A Farewell to Arms contains most of the ingredients of its predecessor, but it has...
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SOURCE: An introduction to A Farewell to Arms, in Hemingway: The Critical Heritage, edited by Jeffrey Meyers, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, pp. 151-59.
[In this introduction, originally published in the 1932 edition of A Farewell to Arms, Ford, a novelist himself and a friend and colleague of Hemingway's from his days in Paris in the 1920s, dwells on Hemingway's literary discipline, clarity of language, and economy of form.]
I experienced a singular sensation on reading the first sentence of A Farewell to Arms. There are sensations you cannot describe. You may know what causes them but you cannot tell what portions of your mind they affect nor yet, possibly, what parts of your physical entity. I can only say that it was as if I had found at last again something shining after a long delving amongst dust. I daresay prospectors after gold or diamonds feel something like that. But theirs can hardly be so coldly clear an emotion, or one so impersonal. The three impeccable writers of English prose that I have come across in fifty years or so of reading in search of English prose have been Joseph Conrad, W. H. Hudson1 … and Ernest Hemingway. … Impeccable each after his kind! I remember with equal clarity and equal indefinableness my sensation on first reading a sentence of each. With the Conrad it was like being overwhelmed by a great, unhastening wave. With the Hudson it...
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SOURCE: “Ernest Hemingway: The ‘Dumb Ox’,” in Men Without Art, 1934. Reprint by Russell & Russell, Inc., 1964, pp. 17-41.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1934, Lewis accuses Hemingway of borrowing the style of Gertrude Stein, purveying brutish speech patterns, and championing the unthinking masses, but at the same time praises his skill as a writer.]
Ernest Hemingway is a very considerable artist in prose-fiction.
Besides this, or with this, his work possesses a penetrating quality, like an animal speaking. Compared often with Hemingway, William Faulkner is an excellent, big-strong, novelist: but a conscious artist he cannot be said to be. Artists are made, not born: but he is considerably older, I believe, than Hemingway, so it is not that. But my motive for discussing these two novelists has not been to arrive at estimates of that sort.
A quality in the work of the author of Men Without Women suggests that we are in the presence of a writer who is not merely a conspicuous chessman in the big-business book-game of the moment, but something much finer than that. Let me attempt to isolate that quality for you, in such a way as not to damage it too much: for having set out to demonstrate the political significance of this artist's work, I shall, in the course of that demonstration, resort to a dissection of it—not the best way, I am...
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SOURCE: “Hemingway,” in The Kenyon Review, Vol. IX, No. 1, Winter, 1947, pp. 1-28.
[In the following essay, Warren answers critics of Hemingway and explores themes of the quasi-religious significance of human love and the solitariness of the individual in A Farewell to Arms.]
The situations and characters of Hemingway's world are usually violent. There is the hard-drinking and sexually promiscuous world of The Sun Also Rises; the chaotic and brutal world of war as in A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, many of the inserted sketches of In Our Time, the play The Fifth Column, and some of the stories; the world of sport, as in “Fifty Grand,” “My Old Man,” “The Undefeated,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”; the world of crime as in “The Killers,” “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio,” and To Have and To Have Not. Even when the situation of a story does not fall into one of these categories, it usually involves a desperate risk, and behind it is the shadow of ruin, physical or spiritual. As for the typical characters, they are usually tough men, experienced in the hard worlds they inhabit, and not obviously given to emotional display or sensitive shrinking, men like Rinaldi or Frederic Henry of A Farewell to Arms, Robert Jordan of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Harry Morgan of To Have and To Have Not, the big-game...
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SOURCE: A review of A Farewell to Arms, in Saturday Review of Literature, August 6, 1949, pp. 32-3.
[In the following essay, Hackett asserts that Hemingway's hero in the novel represents a false concept of male dignity.]
In one detail time has dulled the luster of Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. He had gone through the First World War with the Italians and he put much of his own experience into that brilliant book. When he issued it in 1929 the story was still fresh but familiarity with war material now makes it a little trite. A wholly imagined experience, as in The Red Badge of Courage, is the kind that keeps its salience, though Stendhal and Tolstoy triumphed in spite, of knowing the actuality of war.
As an artist, however, Hemingway turns the background of war to his special purpose. It is a defect that his hero's enlistment with the Italians is given no weight. He seems to have gone along out of masculine camaraderie. But by keeping it relatively tame and incidental, Hemingway uses it as a springboard for the real story, which is a love story. Tension mounts from the moment when the narrator is wounded until, after his cure and his sharing in the Caporetto retreat, he becomes AWOL and breaks away to reunite with his former nurse. He had left her pregnant, without any visible distress, but he throws off the war as an obstacle to his romantic reunion. In...
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SOURCE: “The Religion of Death in A Farewell to Arms,” in Ernest Hemingway: Critiques of Four Major Novels, edited by Carlos Baker, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962, pp. 37-40.
[In the following essay,originally published in 1961, Light discusses the four ideals of service in A Farewell to Arms.]
One way of looking at Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms is to see its close involvement in four ideals of service.1 Each of these ideals is dramatized by a character of some importance, and it is between these four that Lt. Henry wavers in the course of the novel. The orthodoxly religious ideal of service is that of the Priest, who wishes to serve God but who asserts as well the broader concept of service: “When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.”2 Another selfless ideal of service is that of the patriot Gino, who wishes to serve his country so fully that he is willing to die for it. A third is the code of Catherine Berkeley [sic], who wishes to serve her lover and who sees in such service her personal substitute for conventional religion. The last is the ideal of Rinaldi, who, as a doctor, wishes to serve mankind by alleviating the wounds of war. Each is an initiate to the subordination of self, and in this they differ from the selfishness of the king and the officers who ride in cars and throw mud on the men, or...
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SOURCE: “Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms: The Novel as Pure Poetry,” in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 14, Autumn, 1968, pp. 283-96.
[In the following essay, Schneider compares A Farewell to Arms to a lyric poem, where plot, character, and images all contribute perfectly to a feeling of hopelessness and desolation.]
In a well-known essay1 Robert Penn Warren has drawn a distinction between two kinds of poetry, a “pure” poetry, which seeks more or less systematically to exclude so-called “unpoetic” elements from its hushed and hypnotic atmosphere, and an “impure,” a poetry of inclusion or synthesis, which welcomes into itself such supposedly recalcitrant and inhospitable stuff as wit, cacophony, jagged rhythms, and intellectual debate. The distinction between the two types, so helpful in the analysis of lyrics, may obviously be employed to advantage in the criticism of novels, and I should like to use it here to call attention to an aspect of Hemingway's art that has not received any extended comment. For if there are works, such as War and Peace, Ulysses, Moby Dick, and The Magic Mountain, whose power and beauty are best explained by their very “impurity”—novels that batten on the diversity of life and are most themselves when they are most “loose and baggy” (to use James's fine phrase)—the strength of Hemingway's novels is...
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SOURCE: “World Pessimism and Personal Cheeriness in A Farewell to Arms,” in The Flesh and the World: Eliot, Hemingway, Faulkner, Vanderbilt University Press, 1971, pp. 109-26.
[In the following essay, Watkins asserts that, in both theme and style, A Farewell to Arms sets up a conflict between abstract notions of patriotism and honor and the concrete world of individual choice.]
After describing every nation fighting in World War I as “cooked,” a British major in Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms tells Frederic Henry “Good-by” cheerfully and wishes him “Every sort of luck!” Henry reflects on the contradictions in the major: “There was a great contrast between his world pessimism and personal cheeriness.”1 The major's world view epitomizes the theme and the style of this novel and even provides a good perspective on all Hemingway's fiction. The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls offer the greatest contrast. In the first of these novels personal cheeriness is the only refuge in a world of utter despair. In For Whom the Bell Tolls individual and small groups of men sacrifice personal happiness in a magnanimous attempt to improve the conditions of the world for all men. The generalizations of For Whom the Bell Tolls could not possibly be embodied in a style as factual, blunt, and noncommittal as that in The Sun Also...
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SOURCE: “Symbolism in A Farewell to Arms,” in English Studies, Vol. 53, December, 1972, pp. 518-22.
[In the following essay, Carson explores the ways in which A Farewell to Arms fuses a naturalistic approach with compressed, symbolic language.]
Edmund Wilson proclaimed in 1931 that the ‘literary history of our time is to a great extent that of the development of Symbolism and of its fusion or conflict with Naturalism.1’ History and the course of literary criticism have proved him correct. Strangely, however, he neglected all but passing mention of Ernest Hemingway, who had already demonstrated successful fusion of these elements in A Farewell to Arms.
Hemingway's naturalism is seldom questioned, but, despite the obvious allegorical significance of The Old Man and the Sea, his use of the symbol is still questioned.2 Hemingway had, nonetheless, already put into practice Mallarmé's dictum that ‘to name an object is to do away with three-quarters of the enjoyment’.3 As he tells us in Death in the Afternoon, he attempted to duplicate an emotion by describing the ‘sequence of motion and fact’ which provided the stimulus for the emotion.4 His description of the goring of a matador is a case in point:
When he stood up, his face white and dirty and the silk of his...
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SOURCE: “A Farewell to Arms: Hemingway's ‘Resentful Cryptogram,’” in The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction, Indiana University Press, 1978, pp. 46-71.
[In the following essay, Fetterley states that the character of Catherine is a scapegoat for Frederic's hostility rather than a true object of romantic love, providing a way for Frederic to avoid commitment.]
Once upon a time there was a writer who told the truth. He wrote a story called “Indian Camp” and in that story a little boy watches his doctor-father perform a contemptuous and grotesque Caesarean section on an Indian woman while her husband in the bunk above slits his throat. Like “I Want to Know Why,” “Indian Camp” is a story of initiation, and in it Nick Adams is given a lesson in the meaning of growing up male in America: “‘That's one for the medical journal, George,’ he said. ‘Doing a Caesarean with a jack-knife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders.”’ The lesson, reflected in the double mirror of the two fathers, is one of guilt—guilt for the attitudes men have toward women and guilt for the consequences to women of male sexuality. A Farewell to Arms has many of the same elements as “Indian Camp” but they are significantly rearranged. There is still the painful and protracted labor followed by the Caesarean birth of a son, but...
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SOURCE: “A Farewell to Arms: Pseudoautobiography and Personal Metaphor,” in Ernest Hemingway: The Writer in Context, edited by James Nagel, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1984, pp. 107-28.
[In the following essay, Bell uses drafts and revisions of the novel to show that, while not autobiographical in every detail, A Farewell to Arms is highly realistic as a reflection of Hemingway's state of mind.]
Autobiographic novels are, of course, fictions, constructs of the imagination, even when they seem to incorporate authenticating bits and pieces of personal history. But all fiction is autobiography, no matter how remote from the author's experience the tale seems to be; he leaves his mark, expresses his being, his life, in any tale. A Farewell to Arms can illustrate both of these statements.
Ernest Hemingway's novel is not the autobiography some readers have thought it. It was not memory but printed source material that supplied the precise details of its descriptions of historic battle scenes on the Italian front in World War I.1 The novel's love story is no closer to Hemingway's personal reality. He did go to Italy and see action, but not the action he describes; he did fall in love with a nurse, but she was no Catherine Barkley. A large amount of the book fulfills the principle expressed in the deleted coda to “Big Two-Hearted River”:...
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SOURCE: “Denoting Hemingway: Feminist Criticism and the Canon,” in American Literature, Vol. 60, No. 2, May, 1988, pp. 255-68.
[In the following essay, Merrill asserts that a work of art should not be divorced from aesthetic judgments because of an author's alleged male bias.]
In the “Extra” for March 1987 Lawrence Buell presents a deeply informed overview of what feminist revisionism can do for American literary history.1 As Buell's reasoning and examples are quite persuasive, it will perhaps seem ungenerous for me to take issue with a single comment, offered as a parenthetical illustration. Nonetheless, I think the comment in question points up the dangers of the feminist approach to literary history, so I want to use it as a springboard to discuss what I take these dangers to be.
Toward the end of his essay Buell summarizes what feminist studies can hope to do in reshaping the American canon. The first thing such studies can do is “to foment reorderings in the pre-feminist canon (the demotion of Hemingway, for instance).”2 And why should Hemingway be demoted? Presumably because his works are informed by a crippling sexism, crippling on both aesthetic and cultural grounds. Indeed, this is so “obvious” Buell does not even explain the logic. His remark implies that feminist study has already confirmed the need to demote Hemingway or that such work,...
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SOURCE: “The Novel as War: Lies and Truth in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms,” in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 40, No. 4, Winter, 1994, pp. 689-710.
[In the following essay, Norris uses reader-response criticism to argue that Hemingway uses the love story in the novel to turn readers' attention from the brutal realities of war.]
The project of reevaluating Modernism in terms of the political interests that informed its formalistic claims has particularly questioned the aesthetics of the American moderns—Pound, Eliot, Stein, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. Hemingway's style has suffered an especially damaging translation into its ideological determinants—for example, Walter Benn Michaels reading the signature of simplicity (“nice” “good” “true”) in Hemingway's miraculously clean prose as the transformation of racism (“breeding”) into aesthetics (196). While revisionary skepticism has, of course, regularly followed praise of Hemingway throughout his publication history, contemporary ideological criticism—in which New Historicism has taken the lead—proposes a much broader challenge of the formalist New Critical canonization (“It is the discipline of the code that makes man human, a sense of style or good form” [Warren 80])1 of Modernism. At this stage a project both impelled by this revisionary impulse, yet poised to challenge its cruder political indictments of...
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SOURCE: “Voice, Distance, Temporal Perspective, and the Dynamics of A Farewell to Arms,” in Narrative as Rhetoric: Technique, Audiences, Ethics, Ideology, Ohio State University Press, 1996, pp. 59-84.
[In the following essay, Phelan emphasizes the novel's progression in voice which allows Frederic's character to develop gradually into a manifestation of Hemingway's views of the universe.]
This chapter builds on the model of voice outlined in the essay on Vanity Fair by deploying it to reexamine Hemingway's famous style in A Farewell to Arms and to offer an account of how voice contributes to the novel's progression. Although I want to claim some originality for my specific analyses, the overarching goal of the first part of the chapter is quite traditional: to show how the technique is working in the service of the narrative's larger effects. Later, however, I expand my focus from voice to the autodiegetic narration more generally and investigate not just positive contributions of the technique but also some instructive problems and an interesting paradox in Hemingway's use of it. In looking at the problems, I am exploring the space where authorial agency and textual phenomena are in some tension, where intentionality seems to pull in one direction and the textual signs pull in another. In looking at the paradox, which concerns how the knowledge Frederic Henry arrives at...
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SOURCE: “Ernest Hemingway: A Farewell to Arms Pronominal Shifts and Metaphorical Slippage,” in Lacan and Literature: Purloined Pretexts, State University of New York Press, 1996, pp. 66-89.
[In the following essay, Stoltzfus presents a complex analysis of the use of language in A Farewell to Arms, with particular reference to the way in which Hemingway's use of metaphor and shifting pronoun references masks the primal story of Frederic's (and the author's) unconscious separation anxiety.]
The realization of perfect love is a fruit not of nature but of grace—that is to say, the fruit of an intersubjective agreement imposing its harmony on the divided nature that supports it.
—Jacques Lacan, “The function and field of speech and language in psychoanalysis”
Who, then, is this other to whom I am more attached than to myself, since, at the heart of my assent to my own identity it is still he who agitates me?
—Jacques Lacan, “The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud”
Three years after The Sun Also Rises appeared, Scribner published Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929), a novel about two star-crossed lovers whose perfect love is destroyed by war, circumstance, and the...
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Monteiro, George. “Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms—The First Sixty-Five Years: A Checklist of Criticism, Scholarship, and Commentary.” Bulletin of Bibliography 53 (4) (December 1996): 273-92.
Comprehensive, chronological list of works about the novel and its film, radio, and television adaptations through 1994.
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribner, 1969. 697 p.
One of the first authoritative biographies of Hemingway, with a short section on A Farewell to Arms.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. New York: Harper and Row, 1985, 644 p.
Biography with references to A Farewell to Arms.
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: Critiques of Four Major Novels. New York: Scribner, 1962. 199 p.
An influential collection of essays about A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.
Bloom, Harold, Ed. Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. 164 p.
Selections from Hemingway criticism, edited and with an introduction by the Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale....
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