Sometimes, you just need an old favorite. Last week, I did, so I read A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway. It’s one of my absolute favorite reads and I usually re-read it about once a year. This year reading it held special meaning for me after reading Paris Without End a few weeks ago.
If you have never read A Farewell To Arms, you need to. It’s a classic for a reason. Full disclosure, I had a reputation in High School for being a bit of a Hemingway fanatic. So, you know, obviously I was one of the cool kids. I read everything Hemingway ever published- it was a bit of an obsession for me. I’m a sucker for stream of consciousness. True story. It all started with A Farewell To Arms though, it was my first, and still holds a very special place in my heart. Catherine Barkley is a bit crazy, which I absolutely fall in love with every time. I think she is one of Hemingway’s better written female characters (hmmm maybe that’s because he used first wife Hadley Richardson as the inspiration….). I’m entirely sympathetic to Catherine throughout the novel, although I don’t have that same consistent sympathy for Frederic Henry. There’s just something about Catherine Barkley, when she talks about her first love and how she became a nurse with vague notions of taking care of him after he suffered a heroic but not life-threatening injury during the war, I think how entirely human and sweet those imaginations were, and when she reveals he was blown to bits by a bomb, I think how entirely true and real that is. Catherine is a real person. And by that I mean, really well written.
I don’t entirely agree with Hemingway’s notion of two lovers becoming one another and being only one complete person when together but it certainly makes for lovely reading. The descriptions of WWI were powerful in that they never felt emotionally manipulative. The war is described frankly and without grandiose exclamations (which is interesting seeing as how Hemingway himself was quite prone to grandiose exclamations), it is the war as Hemingway experienced it and his way of viewing and discussing it would ultimately be part of an entire literary generations conception of it. It’s simple and beautifully written.
This is just one of my absolute favorite books ever. If I was forced to choose only 5 books to read for the rest of my life, this would be one of them.
What are you guys reading? What 5 books would you choose??