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I really struggle with Hemmingway. His writing is so dry and matter of fact. Sometimes, it's unbearable, but other times, it's strangely compelling. Can't quite put my finger on it. I enjoyed this up to the half way point, then found it to be a bit of a slog.


The basic plot revolves around American, Robert Jordan, being an explosives expert in the Spanish civil war fighting against Franco's fascists. The vast majority of the book takes place in and around a cave where they're camping out in preparation for blowing up a bridge. And that's about it. There's also a romance, but that's the gist of it.


I didn't hate it, but like I said, Hemmingway is hard to like. So far, only 'The Sun Also Rises' impressed me. And that was a long time ago.

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Critics rate this as his best work. The title was taken from John Donne's Devotions



No man is an island, entire of itself;

every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,

as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were:

any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind,

and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls;

it tolls for thee."


But you are right Hemingway is hard to take. I read The Old Man and the Sea and could not see the symbolism at all. FWTBT is supposed to be a fictional account of the Spanish Civil War, in which in real life he drove an ambulance.

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The only Hemmingway I've ever enjoyed was A Moveable Feast, which I was informed by a Hemmingway afficionado, is not "real Hemmingway". Too enjoyable I suppose.


I loathed For Whom the Bell Tolls, not just because of the dryness of his style but because he seems to relish the atrocities he describes. One of the reasons I flatly refused to read The Sun Also Rises when it was suggested for the book club especially as it's about bull fights and Iknow Hemmingway loved them.


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