What contributions has "For Whom the Bell Tolls" made to history?

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Whom the Bell Tolls is Ernest Hemingway's longest novel and some would say his best. Exploring topics that were in the news while he was writing the book, Hemingway's novel was also born out of personal experience in the Spanish Civil war.

Hemingway, siding with the Loyalists, first lent his support to their cause by raising money for ambulances and medical supplies. In 1937, he ran the Ambulances Committee of the American Friends of Spanish Democracy.

A popular novelist writing on contemporary political issues gave a boost of recognition to the Loyalists and lent a new significance to the role of the novel in contemporary society.

And as a text focused on the conflict of choosing duty and honor over personal safety and ego (both an internal and external conflict in the novel), For Whom the Bell Tolls was another step toward the depiction of formal tragedies for the "Lost Generation".

Hemingway’s men and women faced a meaningless world with courage and dignity, exhibiting “grace under pressure,” while Fitzgerald’s sought the redemptive power of love in a world driven by materialism.

This is a novel of social engagement, not unlike A Farewell to Arms, and it remains a great example of high quality socially conscious art.

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

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