Set in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range between Madrid and Segovia, the action takes place during four days and three nights. For Whom the Bell Tolls became a Book of the Month Club choice, sold half a million copies within months, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and became a literary triumph for Hemingway. Donne refers to the practice of funeral tolling , universal in his time. No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
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Aug 26, Jeffrey Keeten rated it liked it No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. Between a war happened in Spain.
It was a war for control of the soul of a country. It was fought between the Republicans, who were democratically elected and the Nationalists, a Fascist group wanting to overthrow the government. Most people were not aware at the time, but really this Civil War was a precursor, a warming pan for World War Two.
The Soviet Union and a coalition of other future allies who stayed behind the scenes provided help and advice for the Republicans. Germany and Italy provided support for the Nationalists. There were international brigades formed up of volunteers from all over the world who came to Spain to fight against fascism. They lost. Francisco Franco, leader of the Nationalists, was the dictator of Spain until his death in Ernest Hemingway went to Spain as a war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance and was hoping to find some great material for a book.
The dialogue is written in an archaic style implying that it is the most correct translation from the Spanish. The thees and thous are distracting and certainly added some ponderousness to a book that was set in the s not the s.
Hemingway in Spain. Robert Jordan is an American who has been trained to be a dynamiter. He joins a band of gypsy freedom fighters up in the hills of Sierra de Guadarrama with orders to blow a bridge that may or may not be important. The chances of survival are slender because they are too few and the timeline too tight. He meets Maria who has been saved by the band from the Fascists who had tortured and raped her. He falls head over heels in love.
Their relationship quickly goes medieval with her begging him for ways to help him: shining his shoes, pouring him wine, mending his clothes, or fetching him something to eat. She is constantly insecure about her appearance because the Fascists had cut off her hair and she only had a stubble grown back. The relationship is built on the most shallow grounds. It is difficult to conceive that it would have survived a move back into a regular life.
Especially when the gypsy witch Pilar tells Maria that she will only feel the earth move three times in her lifetime. Why three times? It is not known, but Pilar is most certain it can only happen three times.
There is a movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper. He certainly is stepping on the toes of the original leader Pablo who used to be a man of great courage, but had lost his desire to want to kill or be killed. He commits an act of treason in an attempt to save the band, but decides in the final moment to come back and help.
In some ways he is the most interesting character in the book. A man who is evolved past mindlessness and wants more reason for blowing a bridge or killing people than just to follow orders. The best scene in the book is the death of a band of guerrillas who are lead by El Sordo. Courage is something Hemingway respects and cowardice is something he worries about.
The potential of experiencing his own bout of cowardice or finding it in others is a theme of his life. He is worried that he will be captured and would be forced to kill himself like his father. It puts into question his whole feelings about his father and the way he died.
The curse continued into another generation with the suicide of his granddaughter Margaux. If Hemingway felt the way Jordan did I believe he did. I do wonder if he finally forgave his own father when he became the mechanism of his own death or did he maybe blame his father for cursing the family with suicidal thoughts?
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway: Summary and Analysis
For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls Quotes