A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

Overview
A Farewell to Arms is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 concerning events during the Italian campaign
Italian Campaign (World War I)
The Italian campaign refers to a series of battles fought between the armies of Austria-Hungary and Italy, along with their allies, in northern Italy between 1915 and 1918. Italy hoped that by joining the countries of the Triple Entente against the Central Powers it would gain Cisalpine Tyrol , the...

s during the First World War. The book, which was first published in 1929, is a first-person account
First-person narrative
First-person point of view is a narrative mode where a story is narrated by one character at a time, speaking for and about themselves. First-person narrative may be singular, plural or multiple as well as being an authoritative, reliable or deceptive "voice" and represents point of view in the...

 of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant ("Tenente") in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

. The title is taken from a poem by 16th-century English dramatist George Peele
George Peele
George Peele , was an English dramatist.-Life:Peele was christened on 25 July 1556. His father, who appears to have belonged to a Devonshire family, was clerk of Christ's Hospital, and wrote two treatises on bookkeeping...

.

A Farewell to Arms works on two literary levels.
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Encyclopedia
A Farewell to Arms is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 concerning events during the Italian campaign
Italian Campaign (World War I)
The Italian campaign refers to a series of battles fought between the armies of Austria-Hungary and Italy, along with their allies, in northern Italy between 1915 and 1918. Italy hoped that by joining the countries of the Triple Entente against the Central Powers it would gain Cisalpine Tyrol , the...

s during the First World War. The book, which was first published in 1929, is a first-person account
First-person narrative
First-person point of view is a narrative mode where a story is narrated by one character at a time, speaking for and about themselves. First-person narrative may be singular, plural or multiple as well as being an authoritative, reliable or deceptive "voice" and represents point of view in the...

 of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant ("Tenente") in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

. The title is taken from a poem by 16th-century English dramatist George Peele
George Peele
George Peele , was an English dramatist.-Life:Peele was christened on 25 July 1556. His father, who appears to have belonged to a Devonshire family, was clerk of Christ's Hospital, and wrote two treatises on bookkeeping...

.

A Farewell to Arms works on two literary levels. First, it is a story concerning the drama and passion of a doomed romance between Henry and a British nurse, Catherine Barkley. Second, it also skillfully contrasts the meaning of personal tragedy against the impersonal destruction wrought by the First World War. Hemingway deftly captures the cynicism of soldiers, the futility of war, and the displacement of populations. Although this was Hemingway's bleakest novel, its publication cemented his stature as a modern American writer.

In 1998, the Modern Library
Modern Library
The Modern Library is a publishing company. Founded in 1917 by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright as an imprint of their publishing company Boni & Liveright, it was purchased in 1925 by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer...

 ranked A Farewell to Arms #74 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It was first adapted to film in 1932, with further versions in the following decades.

Plot summary


The novel is divided into five books. In the first book, Rinaldi introduces Henry to Catherine Barkley; Henry attempts to seduce her, and their relationship begins. While on the Italian front
Italian Campaign (World War I)
The Italian campaign refers to a series of battles fought between the armies of Austria-Hungary and Italy, along with their allies, in northern Italy between 1915 and 1918. Italy hoped that by joining the countries of the Triple Entente against the Central Powers it would gain Cisalpine Tyrol , the...

, Henry is wounded in the knee by a mortar
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 shell and sent to a hospital in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. The second book shows the growth of Henry and Catherine's relationship as they spend time together in Milan over the summer. Henry falls in love with Catherine and, by the time he is healed, Catherine is three months pregnant. In the third book, Henry returns to his unit, but not long afterwards the Austro-Germans break through the Italian lines in the Battle of Caporetto
Battle of Caporetto
The Battle of Caporetto , took place from 24 October to 19 November 1917, near the town of Kobarid , on the Austro-Italian front of World War I...

, and the Italians retreat. Henry kills an engineering sergeant for insubordination. After falling behind and catching up again, Henry is taken to a place by the "battle police", where officers are being interrogated and executed for the "treachery" that supposedly led to the Italian defeat. However, after seeing and hearing that everyone interrogated is killed, Henry escapes by jumping into a river. In the fourth book, Catherine and Henry reunite and flee to Switzerland in a rowboat
Watercraft rowing
Watercraft rowing is the act of propelling a boat using the motion of oars in the water. The difference between paddling and rowing is that with rowing the oars have a mechanical connection with the boat whereas with paddling the paddles are hand-held with no mechanical connection.This article...

. In the final book, Henry and Catherine live a quiet life in the mountains until she goes into labor. After a long and painful birth, their son is stillborn. Catherine begins to hemorrhage and soon dies, leaving Henry to return to their hotel in the rain.

Characters

  • Frederic Henry, often simply called "Tenente" ("Lieutenant"), is the narrator of the story. Henry is a volunteer ambulance driver from the United States. In Henry, we see the beginnings of what comes to be called Hemingway's "Code Hero", a term used to describe a character who follows Hemingway's conception of an internal moral code. Henry is stoic under duress or pain; he modestly deflects praise for his contributions to the war; he is unflappable under fire; he does his work. He is a "man's man," in that his thoughts revolve on women ("girls") and drink. He participates in and seems to enjoy the banal, everyday conversation between the soldiers. He is attracted to the simple goodness of the priest, who, like Henry (who is not religious), sticks to his beliefs despite the war's constant presence. Henry is most characterized throughout the novel by his passionate love and dedication to Catherine Barkley.
  • Catherine Barkley is a British Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse
    Voluntary Aid Detachment
    The Voluntary Aid Detachment was a voluntary organisation providing field nursing services, mainly in hospitals, in the United Kingdom and various other countries in the British Empire. The organisation's most important periods of operation were during World War I and World War II.The...

    . She loves the men so much that she started to write a short story about her love affairs with her fiancé, who since died. She volunteered in the war at the same time her fiancé of eight years joined the army. He was killed in the Battle of the Somme. She is originally from Scotland, emotional, and dependent upon Henry's love for her. Her sexual desires and her simple urge for companionship are sometimes at odds with her needs to tend to the ill. Like the code hero, she handles conflicting needs with grace, giving to both, but shorting none. Feminist thinkers will see in Catherine, Hemingway's perfect woman: wise and cynical in many ways, her wisdom cannot contain her desire. As Henry gives his health and youth to the war effort, Catherine's chief heroism is to accept the pain and death of childbirth stoically. Barkley has been "consistently ignored" as a code hero, probably because she is a woman.
  • Rinaldi is a physician through whom Hemingway draws his idea of an Italian male. Sketched somewhat jingoistically, Rinaldi is unfailingly exuberant, ignoring small details that would stop his large and giving gestures. He loves women and alcohol, bearing a bottle of the latter and tales of the former to his friend Henry as Henry recovers from his wounds. He enjoys performing surgery, seeing it as an enjoyable challenge; he greets his friend Frederic Henry with a formal European-style kiss. He usually refers to Henry as "baby". Rinaldi is a form of the code hero as well. He allows Hemingway to explore another, non-Anglo-American
    Anglosphere
    Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

    , way of being male, of facing even a difficult world, an injured Italy, with joie de vivre
    Joie de vivre
    Joie de vivre is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit. Joie de vivre"can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy...

    , ignoring all danger, giving himself. Henry reunites with a tired and syphilitic Rinaldi in the middle of the novel, illustrating the flaws of this approach to the war and to life.
  • The Priest The chaplain in Henry's unit. Baited by the other officers, he is befriended by Henry, to whom he offers spiritual advice. The last time we see this character, his faith is wavering. Can also be interpreted as a "Code Hero".
  • Helen Ferguson Catherine's friend and fellow nurse, who expresses a strong distaste for Henry, because he impregnated her outside of marriage and during wartime. Hemingway based her on Kitty Cannell
    Kathleen Eaton Cannell
    Kathleen Eaton Cannell was a Paris-based American dance and fashion correspondent for major U.S. papers and periodicals. Before moving to Paris she was the dance critic for The Christian Science Monitor...

     (1891–1974), an acquaintance of his who was a Paris-based American dance and fashion correspondent for major US papers and periodicals.
  • Passini and Bonello Ambulance drivers serving under Henry.
  • Manera, Gavuzzi, Gordini, Piani and Aymo Other ambulance drivers.
  • Mrs. Walker An American nurse at the American hospital in Milan.
  • Miss Gage Another American nurse, sympathetic to Henry and Catherine's affair.
  • Miss Van Campen The unsympathetic nursing superintendent at American Hospital in Milan.
  • Dr. Valentini A surgeon who is highly competent and full of joie de vivre.
  • Meyers A gloomy American expatriate.
  • Ettore Moretti An Italian-American Officer from San Francisco serving in the Italian army.
  • Ralph Simmons An American student of opera and Henry's friend.
  • Count Greffi An old but vigorous Italian whom Henry knows from Stresa and who serves as a mentor to Henry.

Censorship


In early editions, the words "shit", "fuck" and "cocksucker" were replaced with dashes ("----"). There are at least two copies of the first edition in which Hemingway re-inserted the censored text by hand, so as to provide a corrected text. One of these copies was presented to Maurice Coindreau; the other, to James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

. Hemingway's corrected text has not been incorporated into modern published editions of the novel.

Autobiographical details and publication history


The novel was based on Hemingway's own experiences serving in the Italian campaign
Italian Campaign (World War I)
The Italian campaign refers to a series of battles fought between the armies of Austria-Hungary and Italy, along with their allies, in northern Italy between 1915 and 1918. Italy hoped that by joining the countries of the Triple Entente against the Central Powers it would gain Cisalpine Tyrol , the...

s during the First World War. The inspiration for Catherine Barkley was Agnes von Kurowsky
Agnes von Kurowsky
Agnes von Kurowsky Stanfield , an American nurse, was reportedly the basis for the character of "Catherine Barkley" in Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms....

, a real nurse who cared for Hemingway in a hospital in Milan after he had been wounded. He had planned to marry her but she spurned his love when he returned to America. Kitty Cannell
Kathleen Eaton Cannell
Kathleen Eaton Cannell was a Paris-based American dance and fashion correspondent for major U.S. papers and periodicals. Before moving to Paris she was the dance critic for The Christian Science Monitor...

, a Paris-based fashion correspondent, became Helen Ferguson. The unnamed priest was based on Don Giuseppe Bianchi, the priest of the 69th and 70th regiments of the Brigata Ancona. Although the sources for Rinaldi are unknown, the character had already appeared in In Our Time.

The novel was written at the the home of Hemingway's in-laws
Pfeiffer House and Carriage House
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer House, also known as the Pfeiffer House and Carriage House, is a house in Piggott, Arkansas where novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of his novel, A Farewell to Arms...

 in Piggott
Piggott, Arkansas
Piggott, Arkansas is a city in Clay County, Arkansas, one of that county's two seats . It is also the northern terminus of the Arkansas segment of Crowley's Ridge Parkway. As of the 2000 census, Piggott's population was 3,894. The town was founded by William N...

, Arkansas and at the home of friends of Hemingway's wife Pauline Pfeiffer
Pauline Pfeiffer
Pauline Marie Pfeiffer was the second wife of the writer Ernest Hemingway. She was born in Parkersburg, Iowa, on July 22, 1895, moving to St. Louis in 1901 where she went to school at Visitation Academy of St. Louis...

 in Mission Hills
Mission Hills, Kansas
Mission Hills is a city in Johnson County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 3,498. The city is a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, which is adjacent to the east, across the aptly named State Line Road. Mission Hills was originally developed by noted Kansas...

, Kansas while she was awaiting delivery of their baby. His wife Pauline underwent a caesarean section
Caesarean section
A Caesarean section, is a surgical procedure in which one or more incisions are made through a mother's abdomen and uterus to deliver one or more babies, or, rarely, to remove a dead fetus...

 as Hemingway was writing about Catherine Barkley's childbirth.

It was serialized in Scribner's Magazine from May 1929 to October 1929. The book was published in September 1929 with a first edition
First edition
The bibliographical definition of an edition includes all copies of a book printed “from substantially the same setting of type,” including all minor typographical variants.- First edition :...

 print-run of approximately 31,000 copies. The success of A Farewell to Arms made Hemingway financially independent.

Adaptations

  • The novel was adapted for the stage by Laurence Stallings
    Laurence Stallings
    Laurence Tucker Stallings was an American playwright, screenwriter, lyricist, literary critic, journalist, novelist, and photographer...

     in 1930.
  • The 1932 screen adaptation
    A Farewell to Arms (1932 film)
    A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 American romantic drama film directed by Frank Borzage, and starring Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. The screenplay by Oliver H.P...

     was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture
    Academy Award for Best Picture
    The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...

    . The screenplay was written by Oliver H.P. Garrett and Benjamin Glazer
    Benjamin Glazer
    Benjamin Glazer was a screenwriter, producer, foley artist, and director of American films from the 1920s through the 1950s. He made the first translation of Ferenc Molnár's play Liliom into English in 1921...

    . It was directed by Frank Borzage
    Frank Borzage
    Frank Borzage was an American film director and actor.-Biography:Frank Borzage's father, Luigi Borzaga, was born in Ronzone, in 1859. As a stonemason, he sometimes worked in Switzerland; he met his future wife, Maria Ruegg , where she worked in a silk factory...

     and features the music of Richard Wagner
    Richard Wagner
    Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

    . The movie stars Helen Hayes
    Helen Hayes
    Helen Hayes Brown was an American actress whose career spanned almost 70 years. She eventually garnered the nickname "First Lady of the American Theatre" and was one of twelve people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award...

    , Gary Cooper
    Gary Cooper
    Frank James Cooper, known professionally as Gary Cooper, was an American film actor. He was renowned for his quiet, understated acting style and his stoic, but at times intense screen persona, which was particularly well suited to the many Westerns he made...

     and Adolphe Menjou
    Adolphe Menjou
    Adolphe Jean Menjou was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies, appearing in such films as The Sheik, A Woman of Paris, Morocco, and A Star is Born...

    .
    • A Farewell to Arms was presented in five radio productions: December 1938 for CBS
      CBS
      CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

      ; during World War II for NBC
      NBC
      The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

      ; August 1948 for NBC; June 1949 for CBS; and October 1950 for NBC.
  • A 1957 remake
    A Farewell to Arms (1957 film)
    A Farewell to Arms is a 1957 American drama film directed by Charles Vidor. The screenplay by Ben Hecht, based in part on a 1930 play by Laurence Stallings, was the second feature film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's 1929 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. It was the last film produced...

     starring Rock Hudson
    Rock Hudson
    Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., later Roy Harold Fitzgerald , known professionally as Rock Hudson, was an American film and television actor, recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in several romantic comedies with Doris Day.Hudson was voted "Star of the Year",...

    , Jennifer Jones and Vittorio De Sica
    Vittorio de Sica
    Vittorio De Sica was an Italian director and actor, a leading figure in the neorealist movement....

     was directed by Charles Vidor
    Charles Vidor
    Charles Vidor was a film director.-Biography:Born Károly Vidor to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary, he served in the Hungarian Army during World War I...

     and John Huston
    John Huston
    John Marcellus Huston was an American film director, screenwriter and actor. He wrote most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered classics: The Maltese Falcon , The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , Key Largo , The Asphalt Jungle , The African Queen , Moulin Rouge...

    . De Sica was nominated for Best Supporting Actor
    Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
    Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

     for his performance.
  • The BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     broadcast an abridged adaptation – written by Giles Cooper
    Giles Cooper
    Giles Stannus Cooper was an Anglo-Irish playwright and prolific radio dramatist, writing over sixty scripts for BBC radio and television. He was awarded the OBE in 1960 for "Services to Broadcasting"...

    , directed by Rex Tucker
    Rex Tucker
    Rex Tucker was a British television director in the 1950s and 1960s.He was born in March in the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire. Amongst his work, he was a driving force during the formative stages of Doctor Who in 1963, acting as a caretaker producer prior to the arrival of Verity Lambert...

     and starring Vanessa Redgrave
    Vanessa Redgrave
    Vanessa Redgrave, CBE is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist.She rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on London's West End and Broadway, winning...

     and George Hamilton
    George Hamilton (actor)
    George Stevens Hamilton is an American film and television actor.-Early life:Hamilton was the youngest son of bandleader George "Spike" Hamilton and his first wife, Ann Stevens . He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and lived in Blytheville, Arkansas...

     – on February 15, 1966.
  • The BBC broadcast a further adaptation in 2011- dramatised by Stephen Keyworth, directed by Jessica Dromgoole and starring Patrick Kennedy and Morven Christie. Ten episodes were broadcast as the Woman's Hour fifteen minute drama and in omnibus editions on Radio 4 Extra.
  • The 1996 film In Love and War
    In Love and War (1996 film)
    In Love and War is a romance drama film based on the book, Hemingway in Love and War by Henry S. Villard and James Nagel, starring Mackenzie Astin, Chris O'Donnell, Sandra Bullock, and Margot Steinberg. This film takes place during World War I, and is based on the World War I experiences of the...

    , starring Sandra Bullock
    Sandra Bullock
    Sandra Annette Bullock is an Academy Award winning American actress and producer who rose to fame in the 1990s after roles in successful films such as Demolition Man, Speed, The Net, A Time to Kill, and While You Were Sleeping. She continued with films such as Miss Congeniality, The Lake House,...

     and Chris O'Donnell
    Chris O'Donnell
    Christopher Eugene "Chris" O'Donnell is an American actor. He has played Robin in two Batman films, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Charlie Simms in Scent of a Woman, Finn Dandridge in Grey's Anatomy, Peter Garrett in Vertical Limit, and more recently, Jack McAuliffe in The Company. O'Donnell...

    , is loosely based on the novel. O'Donnell plays "Ernie", a Red Cross ambulance driver stationed in Italy during World War I.

External links

  • Hemingway Archives, John F. Kennedy Library
    John F. Kennedy Library
    The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library and museum of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. It is located on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, next to the Boston campus of the University of...