Monday, 6 October 2014

Book Excerpts: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway


Ernest Hemingway's foray into adventure began even before he was twenty. Post a cub reporter stint at the Kansas City Star, Hemingway volunteered for a ambulance driver job at the Italian front during World War I. A Farewell to Arms (1929) is based on these early intense experiences with violence and death. The book established his reputation as a writer of captivating fiction in the public eye, adding on to the praise that Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (1926) got him. Hemingway remained obsessed with various forms of violence until his death, from boxing, bullfighting, war, deep sea fishing to big game hunting. 

Many writers have imitated the matter-of-fact detailed style of writing, but they all lack the first-hand flame of experience that Hemingway conveyed. Here are the first lines from the novel that still hits you with its straight forward description of war and human nature: 

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.


(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

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