In FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, published in 1940, Hemingway explores his own conflicting emotions about heroism, the futility of war, and the value of human life--a theme that is exemplified by the book's title, which is taken from the 17th-century poet John Donne's famous sermon that begins "No man is an island" and goes on to say one should not ask for whom the funeral bell tolls: "it tolls for thee." The novel, which is set during the Spanish Civil War in the spring of 1937, takes place over the course of four days. It tells the story of Robert Jordon, a young American attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain--a college teacher who happened to be in Spain on vacation and decided to join the Loyalists. He has now been commissioned to blow up a bridge. Soon after he arrives at the mountain camp, he meets a young woman named Maria who has been raped by the fascists and seen her parents killed. The two fall instantly in love, but their romance is cut short by the inexorable progress of the war. With passionate clarity, Hemingway depicts Jordan's conflicting tangle of emotions: the idealism with which he joined the Loyalist cause, his belief in romantic love as salvation, his growing questions about whether violence is ever justified, and the combination of fatalism and fear with which he confronts his own death. In the novel's final moments, as Jordan faces the inevitable, he resolves the questions that have plagued him. Hemingway's novel, with its bleak view of war and the failure of idealism, has been called an antiwar document, but the book is more complex than that. It is more about the grim necessity of recognizing that moral issues are seldom clearly marked out in black and white, and that human beings must struggle constantly with difficult choices.
Series: Scribner Classic Series
Height: 7.3 in.
Width: 4.3 in.
Thickness: 1.2 in.
Weight: 8.8 oz.
An American learns the true value of life while fighting with a guerrilla band during the Spanish Civil War.