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shell pebble

Pared down to violence

A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway

An American serving as an ambulance manager in the Italian army during WWI narrates his experience. Hemingway, as ever, writes in the moment, in hard clear sentences, allowing no author-signs, no commentary, no corruption of the lean, linear path of Henry's consciousness. This style might allow ambiguity of interpretation and a play of values to arise, but Hemingway controls the reader's emotions as tightly as his plot. 

For me, this is an effective and affecting narrative, seeking to intimate the purity of sense data and a bracingly direct underlining of the horrors of conflict.

Apart from the sense of being grabbed by the arm and uncomfortably manoeuvred through Henry's moral universe, I was upset by the book's treatment of women. Catherine seems to represent Hemingway's feminine ideal. She is disturbingly slavish, passive, eager to please and stereotyped in her weaknesses.