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Historical Novels

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A Farewell to Arms

by Ernest Hemingway

The Back Cover

The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse.  Hemingway's frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto - of lines of tired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized - is one of the greatest moments in literary history.  A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was 30 years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

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The Location

Img: Italy

This map was produced with Microsoft Encarta 97, World Atlas. It shows the general vicinity in which much of A Farewell to Arms took place. If you have the Encarta 97 World Atlas check it out. I was able to find several of the smaller towns mentioned in the book that are not shown on this map.

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The Timeline

Although A Farewell to Arms does not have a lot of historical references, it is set during World War I, so the following is a very brief timeline of WWI to help place Hemingway's novel.

1914 JUN   -Austrian Archduke assisinated by Serbs in Sarajevo.
     JUL   -Austria delares war on Serbia.
     AUG   -Russia, Germany, France, and Britian enter the war.
1915 MAY   -Italy enters war on the side of the Allies, (Rus, Fran, Brit).
1917 MAR   -Russian Revolution; Russian army retreats.
     APR   -United States declares war on Germany and its allies.
     NOV   -Bolsheviks seize control in Russia and seek peace with Germany.
1918 JAN   -Woodrow Wilson announces his Fourteen Points Peace program.
     OCT   -Austro-Hungarian empire collapses.
     NOV   -Austria and Germany agree to Armistice ending the war.
1919 JUN   -Treat of Versailles signed, formally ending WWI.
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My Comments

Not a lot of history here, but an enjoyable story.  Try finding some of the places mentioned in this novel on a map. The story is more interesting then.  Although Hemingway is one of the "great authors" and probably required reading in most schools, I find his writing awkward at times. Maybe you will have a better appreciation for him than I did.  At any rate the book provided a nice change from most of the other books I have recently read.

Comments from Others

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If you have read A Farewell to Arms and would like to have your comments included on this page, please send me your comments through feedback.