BOOK: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway


Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 “for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.” The Old Man and the Sea had been awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the year before. He started as a reporter, which greatly influenced his writing style, when in was still a teenager. At the age of 18, failing to be accepted as a volunteer for the US Army to fight in the World War I, he was recruited as a driver for the Red Cross. After that, he became an international correspondent for several newspapers and extensively travelled, especially in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, which also influenced many of his novels. During the Spanish Civil War and the World War II he was a war correspondent.


“For Whom the Bell Tolls” tells the tale of Robert Jordan. He is a Professor of Spanish in an American university who decides to use a sabbatical license to go to Spain and join the republican forces in the war against the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. The book starts when he is tasked with a very important and crucial mission and it ends a few days later with the result of such a mission. During that short period of time he fells deeply in love. According to the words stated in the story, he lives a lifetime during those days. The reader has access to his mind, his thoughts and the stories that he witnessed himself and those that were told to him. Throughout the book, the reader gets a lively picture of what the war really is. The fighters, knowing they can die the next day, live intensively every single day and accept such a reality as a given. Accounts of horrible deaths are told like they are business as usual. And death is literally all around. Everyone has more than one story to tell and everyone, sooner or later, kills someone else. The book is not about whether the war is right or wrong nor if it is worthy to fight for a cause. It just describes what it is, its most cruel and raw essence.


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