ROAR welcomes our Free lance writer Tynan King for his monthly book review! Tynan is a freelance writer based in the United Arab Emirates. 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' by Ernest Hemingway review and links below. Thanks for your support.
Last year Western Parliaments passed new laws making it illegal for people to participate in hostile activities overseas. The laws, which in Australia carry life sentences, were designed to stop residents travelling to the Middle East and fighting for or against the Islamic State.
In 1936 when Spain sank into civil war, European powers signed the Non-Intervention Agreement, a similar law, designed to confine conflict to Spain. However, thousands of foreign soldiers, including George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway, acted independently of their governments and enlisted. They sought to hand fascism an early defeat.
Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is an account grounded in this personal experience. Published in 1940, it traces four days in the life of Robert Jordan, a young American man attached to the Loyalist forces and charged with blowing up a bridge to destroy an attack route in the Franco-controlled mountains.
Hemingway uses Jordan’s relationship with Spain to explore the country’s complexity. Having lived in Spain before the civil war, his world is authentic, vivid and populated with multifaceted Spanish characters:
“In this war there are many foolish things,” Augustin said. “In this war there is an idiocy without bounds.” “Clearly,” said Pilar, “Otherwise we could not be here.”
While in the mountains, Robert Jordan stays with various local anti-fascist guerillas. He meets a young woman named Maria and develops a relationship with her. As the relationship deepens, the dangers linked to his mission begin to weigh on him.
At its core, the novel is an exploration of the horrors of war and the idea that all loss of life is a tragedy. The author’s acknowledgment that both sides commit atrocities is a commitment to objectivity.
The title, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” references John Donne’s famous Meditation XVI. In Spain, on the eve of WWII, the bells tolled for us all.
ROAR would like to thank Tynan for inspiring us to read more!