I got an email from a reader offering to send me one of the books on my list. Since I hadn’t read it, I accepted and sent her my home address. A few days later it arrived with a note: “Hi! I hope you enjoy this more than I did. If, not don’t give up on Hemingway, ‘The Sun Also Rises’ was a really great book. Happy reading. Connie.”
Well, Connie, I haven’t given up. A Farewell To Arms was by no means a terrible novel. Nor was it an incredible novel. Mostly, it was just good. I haven’t quite figured out what all the fuss about Hemingway(‘s writing) is. It’s good. It’s got style. It’s poignant yet unemotional. It’s no frills and thus it seems his works may work best under the surface. It is said that Hemingway has done more to change the English-language novel than any other twentieth-century writer. I can vouch for or against that statement, I can only say I enjoy his style. Equally, I enjoyed the novel but it’s not worth all the commotion. I likely will not read it again.
A Farewell To Arms is simply a story of love during war-time (ignoring most of the political complexities, thank god). An overdone idea, but one that is fairly fresh to me, so that aspect didn’t wear on me.
After having read the last word of this novel I thought to myself, “That was just a sad story. A sad and crude story.” And it was. It was unrefined and raw and that’s the way I liked it. However, this sparseness led to little character development. And for much of the story I thought of the two main characters, Henry and Catherine, as shallow and somewhat infantile. Their relationship seemed so lovey-dovey as to be artificial. It seemed phony. But after a while, I realized their love was actually thin only to begin with. He was war-torn and she was damaged. However, the war brought on a healthy co-dependency, between the two. They ended up genuinely needing each other and their conversations became endearing and earnest. And by the end of the novel I was proven wrong.
We went on down the road. It was dark now and the snow squeaked under our boots. The night was dry and cold and very clear.
“I love your beard,” Catherine said, “It’s a great success. It looks so stiff and fierce and it’s very soft and a great pleasure.”
“Do you Like it better than without?”
“I think so. You know, darling, I’m not going to cut my hair now until after young Catherine’s born. I look too big and matronly now. But after she’s born and I’m thin again I’m going to cut it and then I’ll be a fine new and different girl for you. We’ll go together and get it cut, or I’ll go alone and come and surprise you.”
I did not say anything
“You won’t say I can’t will you?”
“No. I think it would be exciting.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet. And maybe I’d look lovely, darling, and be so thin and exciting to you and you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said, “that’s what I want too.”