A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

Other Format(Unabridged)

$56.00 View All Available Formats & Editions


The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway's frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto — of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized — is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was 30 years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780736651790
Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date: 04/28/2000
Edition description: Unabridged

About the Author

Ernest Hemingway did more to influence the style of English prose than any other writer of his time. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established him as one of the greatest literary lights of the 20th century. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He died in 1961.

Date of Birth:

July 21, 1899

Date of Death:

July 2, 1961

Place of Birth:

Oak Park, Illinois

Place of Death:

Ketchum, Idaho

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

The plain was rich with crops; there were many orchards of fruit trees and beyond the plain the mountains were brown and bare. There was fighting in the mountains and at night we could see the flashes from the artillery. In the dark it was like summer lightning, but the nights were cool and there was not the feeling of a storm coming.

Sometimes in the dark we heard the troops marching under the window and guns going past pulled by motor-tractors. There was much traffic at night and many mules on the roads with boxes of ammunition on each side of their pack-saddles and gray motor trucks that carried men, and other trucks with loads covered with canvas that moved slower in the traffic. There were big guns too that passed in the day drawn by tractors, the long barrels of the guns covered with green branches and green leafy branches and vines laid over the tractors. To the north we could look across a valley and see a forest of chestnut trees and behind it another mountain on this side of the river. There was fighting for that mountain too, but it was not successful, and in the fall when the rains came the leaves all fell from the chestnut trees and the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain. The vineyards were thin and bare-branched too and all the country wet and brown and dead with the autumn. There were mists over the river and clouds on the mountain and the trucks splashed mud on the road and the troops were muddy and wet in their capes; their rifles were wet and under their capes the two leather cartridge-boxes on the front of the belts, gray leather boxes heavy with the packs of clips of thin, long 6.5 mm. cartridges, bulged forward under the capes so that the men, passing on the road, marched as though they were six months gone with child.

There were small gray motor cars that passed going very fast; usually there was an officer on the seat with the driver and more officers in the back seat. They splashed more mud than the camions even and if one of the officers in the back was very small and sitting between two generals, he himself so small that you could not see his face but only the top of his cap and his narrow back, and if the car went especially fast it was probably the King. He lived in Udine and came out in this way nearly every day to see how things were going, and things went very badly.

At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army.

Copyright © 1929 by Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright renewed 1957 © by Ernest Hemmingway

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide for A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway was born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. After graduation from high school, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked briefly for the Kansas City Star. Failing to qualify for the United States Army because of poor eyesight, he enlisted with the American Red Cross to drive ambulances in Italy. He was severely wounded on the Austrian front on July 9, 1918. Following recuperation in a Milan hospital, he returned home and became a freelance writer for the Toronto Star.
In December of 1921, he sailed to France and joined an expatriate community of writers and artists in Paris while continuing to write for the Toronto Star. There his fiction career began in "little magazines" and small presses and led to a volume of short stories, In Our Time (1925). His novels The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) established Hemingway as the most important and influential fiction writer of his generation. His later collections of short stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) affirmed his extraordinary career while his highly publicized life gave him unrivaled celebrity as a literary figure.
Hemingway became an authority on the subjects of his art: trout fishing, bullfighting, big-game hunting, and deep-sea fishing, and the cultures of the regions in which he set his work — France, Italy, Spain, Cuba, and Africa.
The Old Man and the Sea (1952) earned him the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in his being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954. Hemingway died in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 2, 1961.
Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American assigned to a Red Cross ambulance unit in Italy, is severely wounded on the Austrian front and sent to a hospital in Milan, where he falls in love with his English nurse, Catherine Barkley. When he returns to the front, the war goes badly, and Frederic joins a retreat from Caporetto in which he barely escapes execution at the hands of Italian battle police. He deserts the army, returns to Milan, goes on to Stresa, joins now-pregnant Catherine Barkley, and avoids capture by rowing across the lake to Switzerland, where they live an idyllic life until Catherine delivers a still-born child and dies, and Frederic walks back to his hotel in the rain, alone.
Discussion Questions
1. How does the first chapter of A Farewell to Arms set a tone and mood which anticipate subsequent events? Why does the narrator move the reader through a change of seasons from late summer to autumn and on to winter? What are the major images in the chapter, and what is the effect of the understatement in the final sentence (p. 4)?
2. During Lt. Frederic Henry's early visits with Catherine Barkley, Catherine says as they touch each other and speak of love, "This is a rotten game we play, isn't it"? (p. 31). How should one characterize Frederic's early "love" for Catherine? What does the initial stage of their relationship reveal about the effect of the war upon their lives?
3. What perspective regarding love does the priest from Abruzzi provide, and why do officers bait him during meals? Frederic says the priest "had always known what I did not know and what, when I learned it, I was always able to forget. But I did not know that then, although I learned it later" (p. 14). Is Frederic's observation borne out in the novel?
4. Why are the Italian soldiers disillusioned with the war? How is Frederic's leap into the river to escape the battle police a symbolic demarcation in the novel? What extended meaning do we find in his statement, "It was not my show any more..."(p. 232)? Does Catherine represent for Frederic refuge, peace, and "home" in its fullest sense? How?
5. Is A Farewell to Arms "a study in doom," as it has sometimes been called? How is Frederic's recollection of the ants on the burning log relevant to questions about God and faith raised in the novel? What do you believe Frederic has learned, or perhaps become resigned to, in this novel of love and war?

After Reading the Novel
The critic Allen Tate read A Farewell to Arms in Paris in 1929 and called it a masterpiece. Fewer than three months after its publication it had sold 45,000 copies and headed many bestseller lists. Many consider it Hemingway's best novel. You may wish to look at early sketches which inspired portions of A Farewell to Arms, especially the "Miniatures" which introduce Chapters 6 and 7 of In Our Time, or at short stories which evolved from Hemingway's World War I experiences such as "In Another Country" (1927), "Now I Lay Me" (1927), and "A Way You'll Never Be" (1933), all available in The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Since the rise of feminist criticism, much has been written about Hemingway's female characters, especially Catherine Barkley, whom some reject as unflatteringly submissive. There is considerable division over this issue, and the subject is worthy of exploration. A 1957 Hollywood movie version of A Farewell to Arms stars Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones. A more recent film, loosely based upon Hemingway's war experiences in Italy, starring Chris O'Donnell and Sandra Bullock, is also available.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Farewell to Arms 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 389 reviews.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
First published in 1929 when Hemingway was 30 A Farewell to Arms is viewed through the eyes of an American serving in the Italian army during the WW1, his love of one woman and his eventual life on the run. We today are used to the prose like, flowing dialogue of contemporary authors, so I was at first un-prepared for Hemingway's staccato, and very pragmatic verse, he puts us on the front lines with the soldiers and shows us how life away from the front was spent. He tells us of medical procedures of the time, procedures that we view as expectant as an aspirin, but in his day were life saving and sometimes life taking techniques. He takes us on an unequaled journey from the Mountains to the small villages and finally to the cities of Italy and ends our voyage in a small village in Switzerland. He takes us behind enemy lines and in the trenches of allies and he does it with an amazing proficiency. His characters are unforgettable in their portrayals from his protagonist Frederic and his love interest Catherine to his comrades in arms. His love story is poignant and heartwarming and tragic and yet beautiful in it's telling. He was truly a masterful narrator. So come back to the classic tale of love found and love lost, of war and desertion and of human frailty. Come back and see why this tale has survived a number of reprints and almost a century in time. Come back and make Papa proud. Come back and read the one and only A Farewell to Arms.
Etienne More than 1 year ago
Hemingway's "A Farewell To Arms" is an absolute necessity in order to understand the time in which it takes place. The dichotomy between love and war is an idea explored in depth in the novel. The novel paints a picture of war as pointless, confused, and without victor. Though it lacks an uplifting ending to say the least, this piece of literature is one that deserves a permanent spot on your bookshelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, 'A Farewell to Arms' is a book worth reading. One strong point about this book is the straight-forward, and realistic writing style. Hemingway wrote small, yet descriptive sentences that attract's the reader. Unlike, most other authors, who take a number of pagers to describe one simple thing. Hemingway keep's the reader's mind going. Though the overall writing content was execellent, there are small parts of the book that give it negatve reviews. The 'supposed' love between the main characters, in my own opinion felt dull, and not very realistic. The ending is a surprise for the reader. But dispute it being hated for having a depressing ending, it's very memorable and understandable. This book doesn't have a typical 'happy ending' because unlike most books it's realistic. 'A Farewell to Arms' is overall a wonderful book to read.
CosmoBDB More than 1 year ago
I had to read this for a college English course, otherwise I would have given it a pass. I'm not sure how or why Hemingway got to be known as the great literary genius of his generation.
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, was, according to my honors english teacher, supposed to be one of the "greatest books you'll read in high school". Honestly, I found this to be one of the worst. It just kept going on about how Catherine doesn't really love him and how this is all for sex. I understand that this was an important overall value to the book, but I didn't like reading every other page of a book that was suppposed to be about war, it having them having sex in a park, or having sex in a hospital bed. This book was very vulgar, with poor grammar (supposedly a technique known as polysyndeton, but I think Hemingway just liked acting like an illiterate), and was very disappointing to the reader looking for a book about WWI
FlamingGrandmaChief More than 1 year ago
While A Farewell to Arms had many symbolic aspects, it contained far too many boring conversations and practically irrelevant details for me to truly enjoy reading it. Tenente would often begin thinking about the rain(which, in this novel, represents rebirth) which plays a large part in the story. However, just after his thinking escapade, he would begin telling details on the war, and how it was going for nearly every country, and this really bored me.I hardly think I really needed to know every time the Austrians fired their weapons. As for the conversations, they were hardly ever interesting. The dull, boring characters would bring up cities that you don't really care about, and then they would go off and intoxicate themselves. Alcohol was a symbol for dealing with pain of many kinds, but i dont admire any character who is a heavy drinker. And speaking of characters, Catherine was indubitably a bizarre woman. She would spit out random comments like "I feel like a whore" or "I want to BE you, darling". She creeped me out, to be honest. All characters except Rinaldi lacked spontaneity(most of the time) and iconic flair. The ending disappointed me because of the abruptness, however it was intriguing. If rain meant rebirth of this book, I would appreciate a drought.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When reading a book, I go into it with an open mind; I did this for A Farwell to Arms also. Most people who don't like this book complain about Hemingway's writing style--I had no problem with it, as his journalistic writing style was easy for me to read. My problem with the book was that the story wasn't very interesting. I did not want to keep reading it after I reached the end of a chapter or a book. The story has many holes in it and leaves too many questions unanswered and stones unturned. The ending is as annoying as saying that it was all a dream. Anyway, I still will read Hemingway; but I will not revisit this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is wonderful story that really touches your soul and makes you think about life in the 1900's. This book takes place during World War I and tells the story of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American working as an ambulance driver for the Italian army, and his love for a British nurse, Catherine Barkley. I'm not going to say much about the story, however I will talk about some parts of the book that really make the reader think. There is a part in the book when it is raining outside and Catherine breaks down into tears because she is afraid and wont stop until Henry comforts her. Later in the book there are several instinces when rain keeps showing up. I think that in this book, rain symbolizes our greatest fears being realized. Throughout the book, whenever Henry was in a life or death situation the weather outside was always raining. The rain is an important part of the end of the book. That is just one example of the many ways that this book makes the reader think. Becuase this book makes us think about the story then it can be considered a classic novel. If a novel makes us think about the story then it can be considered a classic. If a book does not make the reader think then the book can't be remembered. A Farewell to Arms has a story that transcends through time and touches people throughout the world even today. I found myself tearing up a little bit at the end. A Farewell to Arms is a wonderful book that everyone should read, however I think that you have to be at least thirteen to read this book. This is a mature book that can only be understood if thought about. I thouroughlly enjoyed reading this book and I can't wait to read some of Ernest Hemingway's other great works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of books in my day, and this was the worst one ever. I had absolutely no symptathy for any of the characters; I didn't care whether they lived or died, I just wanted it to end. I would give this zero stars if possible. So boring.
MColv9890 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We read this for junior year AP American Literature. I hated, loved, and learned to read this novel for what it is. The kids in my class (myself included) hated the terms of endearment. This one has his most famous discussion about the ants burning on the log.Ernest Hemingway's answer to "why did the chicken cross the road?"-to die alone in the rain
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in World War II, this novel centers around Lieutenant Henry, an American ambulance driver, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. After meeting in Italy, the two fall in love and try to assemble a relationship during war. I was warned that Hemingway was bleak, and without giving anything away, I came to the conclusion by the end of this book, that yes, he is bleak. This book brought me to tears. However, I love Hemingway's clean, sparse writing, as well as his looping, realistic dialogue. It is vivid and moving. Both Catherine and Henry are wonderful characters, and despite the bleak nature of the book and its view of the world, I would read it again in an instant, because it was so, so beautiful.
silverwing2332 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is rather depressing, which is not a bad thing (and does not mean that the ending is sad, so this is not a spoiler), the general tone of the piece is disconnected and sad. I hated most of the characters in this book, and was happy when this book was over. The details in the book about the war are very effective and helps convey how terrible the war was.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelBook #17: A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway (1929)The story in a nutshell:Published in the late 1920s, right when Modernism was first starting to become a commercially successful form of the arts, A Farewell to Arms is Ernest Hemingway's wry and cynical look at World War I, the event that most defined not only his generation but also the beginning of the Modernist movement. Semi-autobiographical in nature, the book tells the story of Frederic Henry, known to most as "Tenente" (Italian slang for "Lieutenant"), a young and gung-ho American who couldn't get accepted by the American military during the war, so volunteered to be an ambulance driver for the Italian army instead. One of the first of Hemingway's tales to define the stoic "man's man" he would eventually become known for, the novel basically follows Tenente through a series of thrilling escapades, made even more interesting because of the main character not seeing them as thrilling at all -- nearly having his leg torn off while at the front, saving a man's life, escaping execution by diving off a bridge, a rowboat ride to Switzerland in the middle of the night while fleeing a group of pursuers, and a whole lot more.Like I said, though, Hemingway's point here is not to glamorize war, but rather to highlight the mundane aspects of it all; the endless red tape, the weasely things people do to get out of actual work, the BS conversations that are always taking place among soldiers, all of them arguing over how the war is going but none of them actually possessing any factual information. At the same time, though, A Farewell to Arms is about the monstrous developments of World War I in particular, the very first large war to be fought during the Industrial Age, and therefore capable of inflicting so much more carnage than anyone thought possible. (For example, the brand-new European railway system is heavily featured throughout the book, and especially the fact that in a half-day's ride, you could go literally from the battlefront to a five-star luxury hotel, something that had never been possible before WWI.) Oh, and if all this wasn't enough, Hemingway throws in a love story too, a complicated one featuring a complicated woman, one that has been a source of heated interpretation since the book first came out 79 years ago.The argument for it being a classic:There seems to be two main arguments for this being a classic, one based on the author and one on the book itself. Because the fact is that Hemingway is considered by many to be one of the most important novelists in the history of that format, a fabled "High Priest of Modernism" who taught all of us to think in a punchier, shorter way, and with this mostly being for the better for the arts in general. Because let's not forget, a mere twenty or thirty years before this book was first published, it was actually the flowery and overwritten Victorian style of literature that dominated the publishing industry; and as we've all learned throughout the course of this "CCLaP 100" essay series, although Victorian literature certainly has its charms and inherent strengths, it's also a whole lot of talking to say not much at all, a situation that was starting to drive artists crazy by the time the 20th century got into swing. Hemingway, fans claim, was the first Modernist to really bring all the details together in a profoundly great way -- the first to combine the exciting rat-a-tat style of pulp-fiction writers with the weighty subjects of the academic community, producing work that owes as much to Raymond Chandler as it does to Virginia Woolf but is
jcmontgomery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have liked Hemingway's work. I still do, but I couldn't get through this one. I couldn't sympathize with the characters at all. And with the TBR library I have, I couldn't even force myself to finish this. For once, I'll concede that I'd rather watch the movie than read the book.
mcc89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Famous for the title, the end, and the ants on the log description 3/4ths of the way through the book. This is almost required reading for high school students and not without good cause, though I hesitate to reccommend it to high school students myself... I think it's a bit poorly chosen. Curriculum's have a tendency to over-value books of violence when prescribing a 17 year old's reading list. I'd rather have read this last year for the first time, than 4 years ago.
vandev11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿A Farewell to Arms¿ is a semi-autobiographical novel that depicts Frederic¿s Henry¿s involment in the Italian army during World War I. He gets wounded while at the frontline and falls in love with his nurse, Catherine, and the two of them soon abandon the army altogether.¿A Farewell to Arms¿ provides the reader with a good sense of the soldier mentality that many young men and women face in times of crisis. It is one of Hemingway¿s more easily accessible works and provides a basis for discussion of current political events and the concept of war as it relates to humanity.
co_coyote on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'm not sure how you get to be my age, reading as many books as I do each year (and an English major to boot!), and have managed not to read a book by Ernest Hemingway. But this is my first. I guess I meant to do it earlier, because I apparently bought this book in the 1970s. It cost $1.65 new, and it appears I paid $1.25 for it at a used book store that still exists here in Fort Collins. The best part about this book was finding a $10 bill pressed between the pages. I wish all my reading returned such handsome dividends.I suppose I knew Hemingway is famous for his spare writing style, but I had no idea I was in for nearly 350 pages of one declarative sentence after the other. I thought I was going to go crazy in the first 100 pages, then the style (or perhaps the story) began to grow on me and I settled down and enjoyed the last half of the book. I won't be rushing out for another one, but I hope I come across it before another 50 years goes by.
k8_not_kate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Hemmingway novel and I was thrilled to find a new author with a large body of work to mine when I picked it up. The simple language that at times verges on stream of consciousness (I think some critics refer to it as writing with "economy") is lovely and makes it easy to jump into the narrator's head while simultaneously making him alluringly mysterious. To clarify that--the reader seems to get a lot of Fred's thoughts unedited, almost as they form, but his deeper feelings and motives are never known. Overall, the book was exciting and memorable, and the first of many Hemmingway novels I will read.
andreiz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read it because it's considered a classic, but did not enjoy it. Hemingway's writing style is fairly disagreeable, at least to me, and at times it felt like the story (what little of it was there) hid behind the staccato of sentences. The conversations between between Henry and Catherine were cloyingly sweet at times and full of apparent misogynism ("I'll be the best girl you'll ever want, darling, I promise").
lizatoad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. when i was getting to the end, and understood what was going to happen to Catherine, I was so upset that I couldn't force myself to finish reading it for about a week!
rybeewoods on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boring. I've heard that Hemingway is the balls, but I just found that I wanted to cut mine off while reading this book. I finished it though and for that I can be proud.
misscatie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The end of this book was so completely depressing that I couldn't even get off the couch to kill myself. Good book, but like I said, completely depressing. Only read if you're on uppers.
Brandie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, when I first started, well, I wasn't really into that much. But then, I fell in love with this book truth be told. I just loved it so much - I have to say that the ending was not a surprise to me, but I don't think it was intended to be a surprise. Even though I knew it was coming, I think the book was written that way on purpose - as if *I could know even before the characters.I have to say that I was sort of sad when it ended. I did enjoy the book, even if it took a few pages for me to begin to enjoy it!
LTW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a youth of 18, Ernest Hemingway was eager to fight in the Great War. Poor vision kept him out of the army, so he joined the ambulance corps instead and was sent to France. Then he transferred to Italy where he became the first American wounded in that country during World War I. Hemingway came out of the European battlefields with a medal for valor and a wealth of experience that he would, 10 years later, spin into literary gold with A Farewell to Arms. This is the story of Lieutenant Henry, an American, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. The two meet in Italy, and almost immediately Hemingway sets up the central tension of the novel: the tenuous nature of love in a time of war.
jeffkeen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book I ever felt. Read it in High School. Instantly fell in love with the gritty painful saga.