A Farewell to Arms: The War of the Words
Ernest Hemingway's artistic powers are generally recognized to have been at their highest in A Farewell to Arms (1929), which has entered the canon of modern literature as one of its masterpieces. Combining austere realism and poetic language to present a powerful argument against war, the novel detailing the tragic affair during World War I between an American lieutenant and a Scottish nurse tells a touching love story at the same time. Long after its publication, A Farewell to Arms continues to be an important work because of the questions it asks about the human condition. What is it like to be adrift; to live with uncertain personal values in a world of shifting values; to be unsure of the differences between good and bad and what should be desired and what actually is desired? In short, how does one learn to live? Hemingway's disillusionment and technical virtuosity, particularly in works like A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, influenced a whole generation of writers. Robert Lewis's exceptionally comprehensive and clear study of A Farewell to Arms is new both in its particular readings and its various emphases. Building upon previous Hemingway scholarship, it concentrates on character and theme rather than plot and style. Structural and stylistic concerns are discussed in the first part of the book, but with reference to their place in the creation of character and elaboration of certain themes. In the remainder of this study, Lewis explores a number of thematic clusters and oppositions in the novel: life and love as a game; sanity versus insanity; and appearance versus essence. Finally, Lewis argues that A Farewell to Arms is, at heart, a novel about language. This well written study should provide students and other readers with a thorough reading of A Farewell to Arms while also contributing to Hemingway scholarship in general.
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A World in Transition
The Importance of the Work
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