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Free Barron's Booknotes-A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
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ANARCHIST - One who promotes the absence of government, political disorder, or violence. In Farewell the presence of anarchists in the army indicates the political temper of the times, opposition to the government

ARMOIRE - A free-standing clothes closet

ARTICULATION - As used in the novel, the movement of a joint in the body, specifically Henry's knee joint

CAMION - A large military truck used to transport men and supplies

CAMPANILE - A bell tower, usually on or near a church

CARUSO, ENRICO - A famous operatic tenor in the early years of the twentieth century

CONCIERGE - A hotel employee whose job is to act as gatekeeper, caretaker, and janitor.

COVA - A cafe in Milan

DOLCE - Literally a sweet, generally a dessert

ENCYST - To become enclosed in a capsule or cyst

GRAPPA - A strong alcoholic drink distilled from the leavings of wine pressing

HOYLE - A book of rules for various card games, origin of the phrase, "according to Hoyle"

JAUNDICE - Disease resulting from excess bile production in the liver

LANCET, THE - A famed British medical journal

LA SCALA - Milan's opera house; to sing in La Scala is to make the big time

MILAN CATHEDRAL - One of the finest examples of the decorative Italian Gothic architectural style

MINNENWERFER - An Austrian/German trench mortar, an artillery piece designed to loft projectiles into dugouts and trenches

MUSETTE - A small piece of hand luggage

POTATO-MASHER - Slang term for Austrian/German hand grenade, so-called because of its shape, which resembled a potato masher

PUTTEES - Covering for the lower leg in the form of a spirally wound cloth strip, part of the Italian military uniform

RUCKSACK - A small backpack

SALVARSAN - A compound of arsenic used in the treatment of syphilis

SHRAPNEL - An artillery shell filled with many metal fragments that scatter on explosion

SIGHT DRAFT - A draft or check payable on presentation

STREGA - A sweet cordial, a liqueur

SYNOVIAL FLUID - Fluid that lubricates the joints in the human body




The Hemingway tune was a new and original contribution to world literature. It is in the ears of all young people who set out to write. And the Hemingway code of courage, the Hemingway hero and his stoic holding on against odds, have exerted an influence beyond literature. Though the insufficiencies of the man eventually maimed his work, Hemingway at his best is a seminal force as considerable as that of Joyce or Faulkner or Scott Fitzgerald.

Anthony Burgess, Ernest Hemingway and His World, 1978

Hemingway made a difference. There are people who do not admire his work, but even these are perfectly ready to admit-if only that they deplore the fact-that he is "important." It is hard to think of a contemporary American who had more influence on modern writing,... or, in his own time, of a writer more widely publicized.

Philip Young, Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration, 1966


Among the American novels which deal with the First World War of 1914-18, A Farewell to Arms has stood up under the weathering of the years as well as any and far better than most.... Soldier's Pay by William Faulkner and Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos have long since begun to show signs of literary senility.... [Hemingway's book] manages to remain singularly undated at the same time that it perfectly
embodies the Zeitgeist, the governing moral essence of that far-away time.

Carlos Baker, "Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms," in The American Novel from Cooper to Faulkner, 1965


...There are, however, no women in his books! In his earlier fictions, Hemingway's descriptions of the sexual encounter are intentionally brutal, in his later ones unintentionally comic; for in no case, can he quite succeed in making his females human...

Hemingway is only really comfortable in dealing with "men without women." The relations of father to son, of battle-companions, friends on a fishing trip, fellow inmates in a hospital,... a boy and a gangster: these move him to simplicity and truth.

Leslie A. Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel, 1966


[His words strike us] each one as if they were pebbles fetched fresh from a brook. They live and shine, each in its place. So one of his pages has the effect of a brook-bottom into which you look down through flowing water. The words form a tessellation, each in order beside the other. It is a very great quality.

Ford Madox Ford, "Introduction to A Farewell to Arms," 1932

...the Hemingway still mostly admired and argued over is the author of the early fictions-The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms.... Perhaps their staying power derives not from their exterior alone but also from their tender spots of sensibility carefully nurtured in a dehumanized world-those passages of muted lyricism that provide both a measure and a meaning for protective toughness. Rare and brief as they are, they achieve a special resonance by being sounded against the hard polished surface of his typical prose.

Charles R. Anderson, "Hemingway's Other Style," 1961


A Farewell to Arms had its first filming in 1932.... This deferred to popular taste by ending the story with a living Catherine, to Hemingway's disgust, and it began a whole unsatisfactory saga of bad Hemingway movies. In 1958 there was a more skillful and less compromising adaptation..., but it could not match in visual language the distinction of Hemingway prose. No better proof is needed of the essentially "literary" nature of Hemingway's work than a long succession of cinematic mediocrities based on his work.

Anthony Burgess, Ernest Hemingway and His World, 1978

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