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Author Topic: A Farewell  (Read 8021 times)
Ed
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« on: April 20, 2005, 06:20:47 PM »

... To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway Wink  Have any of you read it?

I've just finished the book (slow reader that I am).  I've been reading it in my lunch breaks over the past few weeks.  I finally got to the last page yesterday... and found myself gutted. undecided

Absolutely gutted!

It's the first time that I've tried to read a literary classic - until now I've stuck with popfic and autobiogs.  I can't say that I enjoyed it very much.  There were parts I did enjoy, such as the bit where he's caught up in the retreat - that was page-turning stuff, and some of the last couple of chapters, where he's found Catherine again and they're escaping.

But I found the first chapter very distracting, with all the 'and's.  When I finally got used to the 'and's, the dialogue bugged me (bigtime) and I found a lot of the conversations quite tedious, especially those featuring Catherine.

Come the middle of the book, where they're parted suddenly, with her in the family way, and him sent to the front, all their plans in tatters, I did notice something I thought was pretty cool.  He didn't dwell on the MC's feelings - not a word about him feeling worried or lovesick, or cheated by fate - none of that stuff until waaay later.  I was looking for it, wondering how he felt... but then I realised that I knew exactly how the character felt, and for him to have stated it would have been unnecessary.  He just carried on as if nothing had happened.  Now that, I thought, was clever.

I got a feel for the places they stayed in, and for the way the MC interacted with others.  The character was very well drawn.  The ending was very abrupt, and I felt a bit cheated, but again I knew how the MC felt.  Now I've read it, and I'm looking back on it, I have mixed feelings about the book.  I can recognise it's a classic, but I don't really know why. 

What do you think about it, if you've read it?  I'm interested to know whether it's ever been adapted to film - does anybody know?  I'd like to see it if it has.
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
JoyceCarter
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2005, 06:24:56 PM »

Must admit I haven't, but you've evoked it very well, and I shall now look for it at my next visit to the library.
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Ed
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2005, 06:35:42 PM »

Must admit I haven't, but you've evoked it very well, and I shall now look for it at my next visit to the library.

I was trying hard not to put any spoilers in my post, just in case anybody was planning to read the book, but it's very difficult to discuss on that basis.  I'll look forward to your review of it, Joyce - you'll probably get through it in a few days.  It's only 393 pages long. smiley
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2005, 09:44:24 PM »

Hi, Blunt

I haven't read it either, but I adore The Old Man and The Sea. It's quite short.


 :(kimbly (trapped in a depression hell but climbling out)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2005, 09:57:43 PM by kimbly » Logged
Ed
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2005, 02:22:12 AM »

Hi Kimbly afro

Nice to see you again.  I hope you're feeling better soon.

I've got The Old Man and the Sea in audiobook format, narrated by Charlton Heston.  I listened to some of it, but must admit to losing interest before reaching the end.  It's probably better to read than listen to.  Some scholars reckon Hemingway 'lost it' on that book, but maybe it just says that he changed his style a bit?  Most of his other books are about war, big game hunting or bullfighting, so perhaps those scholars wanted more of the same.

I've just started reading Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.  During the first chapter I was thinking WTF's this?  But now I'm getting in to it, I like it - it has a very sarcastic wit and a crazyness to it.  Yossarian strikes me a bit like a modern (ish) day Hamlet. smiley
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2005, 06:04:12 AM »

I'd forgotten to reply to this.  I did get A Farewell to Arms from the library, but when I started reading, I didn't have any patience with it.  Don't know if it was the style itself, or me being in the wrong mood, or trying to do too much at the time, but I never did get into it.

I LOVE Catch-22.  I know lots of people who have stuck at the WTF stage you mention, but if you just go with the flow, it all becomes clear.  That is one of my read-if-I'm-not-well books.

Kimbly, hope you soon feel better.  Keep running to the light.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2005, 05:37:31 PM by JoyceCarter » Logged
Ed
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2005, 02:56:45 PM »

Yep, it was a long slog to get through AFTA.  The blurb on the back quoted a critic who marvelled at it being "utterly devoid of sentiment", something like that, anyway.  And I think that's what's difficult about it.  I think people read to experience another person's life, fictional or otherwise, and we want to know how people feel about the things that happen to them. 

You don't get told how anybody feels in this book - you're presented with situations, and left to make up your own mind about how the characters feel.  In one way, it's cleverly done, but it is stark and not at all comforting.  The dialogue was awful - I don't care what anybody else says about it - it is awful dialogue rolleyes

Quite a few people seem to have problems with Catch 22, but I find it very entertaining to read.  I think it helps having a sarcastic/ironic sense of humour.  I think you'll hate it if you haven't.
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2005, 05:39:26 PM »

How do people live without having a sarcastic/ironic sense of humour?  whoah
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2005, 05:46:42 PM »

It does seem like a dull existence, doesn't it?  scratch However, I can assure you that I have a number of academic colleagues who have survived for decades without a sense of humor after tragic accidents involving pens and scissors.  laughter1
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Ed
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2005, 06:36:12 PM »

I know a few people like that.  Mainly accountants and people who work in computer programming - stuff like that.  In a room full of people cracking-up laughing, they're the ones with the stoney-faced, 'I don't understand' expressions. huh

One time, I overheard two accountants sharing a joke, and the punchline was, "And he put twenty-six in the box!"  grin  Much laughter ensued, but not from me. scratch huh

I love sarcasm - it's the kind of humour you can savour in your mind.
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2005, 07:23:20 PM »

The other kind of thing that keeps me happy for days after the event is when you hear something in real life that is better than the best comedy script, and all the better for being real, if you know what I mean.  grin

For instance.  I remember a class of children in school, all about 11.  One of the boys, Andrew, had a girl-friend, Vicky, although most of the others hadn't got to that stage yet.  It was about to be Andrew's birthday, and his parents had set up to take him and some friends to see a film, and then for a meal.  He wanted to take Vicky along, but she was shy about going if she would be the only girl.  So Andrew said to his four best mates, 'You can come on my birthday treat if you ask a girl to come with you.'  They agreed, as long as it would be a deadly secret from the rest of the world that they had actually asked a girl outwhoah

Fast forward to the cinema on the night of the treat.  The lights went up at the interval, and one of Andrew's friends saw the loudest-mouthed gossip in the class approaching down the aisle of the cinema, obviously very likely to spot this mixed party.  Shocked So he turned to the girl he'd invited, and said to her, 'For God's sake, Sheena - for MY sake - tell her you came on your own.'

This story was told to me by Sheena in school on the Monday morning, and she thought it was funny, too!  grin
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2005, 07:52:42 PM »

Too funny! Out of the mouths of babes....
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Ed
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2005, 12:16:00 PM »

 grin  Reminds me of my two.  They care too much about what people think of them. 

Last year, our youngest was blissfully ignorant of his nakedness, and would run around in the buff without embarrassment.  When on a camping trip, he was happy to shower with his little girlfriend and everything was fine, except he was a bit confused, asking her, "Ella - where's yours willy?" grin

Sadly, he's moved on to a more self-conscious level, and is busy denying that he ever had a girlfriend.  And, 'no way' did he kiss her whoah afro  Give it ten years or so, and I'm willing to bet he'd give his right arm to shower with Ella.  Funny how things go, isn't it?
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2005, 12:57:18 PM »

It's not so much fun when you're the person in the middle of the self-conscious moment.  From outside that, either because it isn't you, or because you've gone beyond thinking that all that stuff matters, it's rather fun to watch, don't you think?!  (It's good to have an excuse for the eavesdropping - 'I'm a writer, you know...' Wink)
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