Title: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 416

Rating: 4/5

This is another one of the books that I’ve had lying around for quite a while now and have been putting off for one reason or another. I think in this case, it was because the type was so small and the book looked pretty dense, but it turned out that once I got started on it, I couldn’t put it down.

Part of that is because it’s set during the Spanish Civil War, a part of history that I’ve been pretty interested in ever since reading George Orwell’s take on it with Homage to Catalonia. I will say that of the two, I’d recommend Orwell over Hemingway, but that doesn’t surprise me because I’m more of an Orwell fan than a Hemingway fan. I think part of that is because I disagree with a lot of Hemingway’s personal opinions, and as an advocate of animal rights, it makes me feel uncomfortable to read about bullfighting and fishing.

But in this one, we’re basically learning all about the evils that humans do to each other, rather than to animals, although there’s a bit of that too due to the nature of war. What’s interesting is that Hemingway was able to build a love story into it at the same time without it feeling redundant or making it pale against the backdrop. Now, I’m not really one for romance in stories anyway and so that wasn’t really my thing, but I did at least appreciate it as being quite well done.

There’s also a lot of the philosophising that I enjoy reading in novels, and so I was pretty happy about that. It all combined together to leave it feeling almost like a piece of historical literary fiction, which I guess it technically is, but it’s hard to call it that considering that Hemingway was around way closer to the time that it’s set than I am.

I always think it’s important to consider the context in which you read a book, as well as the book itself. In this case, the combination of the content and the context was a hit for me, although I think the fact that I was finally in the mood for it played a part. I could have forced myself to read it at another time, but I might not have enjoyed it as much.

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