maine; if a Clod bee washedaway by the Sea, Europe is thelesse, as well as if aPromontoire were, as well as ifa Mannor of thy friends or ofthine owne were; any mansdeath diminishes me, because Iam involved in a Mankinde; Andtherefore never send to Knowfor whom the bell tolls; It tolls
About the AutorErnest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899 and began hiswriting career as a reporter with “The Kansas City Star” in 1917.He partecipated to the First World War as a volunteer with an ambulanceunit on the Italian front ; in 1973 Hemingway traveled to Spain to coverthe Civil War there for the North America Newspaper Alliance and threeyears later he completed his great novel “ For Whom The Bell Tolls”.During the Second World War he was a war corrispondent in Europe andin his last year he lived in Cuba where he wrote his masterpiece “ TheOld Man And The Sea” . In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize andhe died shooting himself in 1961.
BackgroundThe novel is based on hisexperiences during the SpanishCivil War, with an Americanprotagonist named Robert Jordanwho fights with Spanish soldiersfor the Republicans. Set in the“Sierra de Guadamarra” mountainrange between Madrid andSegovia, the action takes placeduring four days and three nights.The story graphically describesthe brutality of the Civil War.
PlotHowever, when another band of antifascist guerrillasled by El Sordo are surrounded and killed, Pablodecides to betray Jordan by stealing the dynamite caps,hoping to prevent the demolition. In the end Jordanimprovises a way to detonate his dynamite, and Pabloreturns to assist in the operation after seeing Jordanscommitment to his course of action. Though the bridgeis successfully destroyed, Jordan is maimed when hishorse is shot out from under him by a tank. Knowingthat he would only slow his comrades down, he bidsgoodbye to María and ensures that she escapes to safetywith the surviving members of the guerillas. He refusesan offer from another fighter to be shot and lies inagony, hoping to kill an enemy officer and a few soldiersbefore being captured and executed. The narrationends right before Jordan launches his ambush.Robert Jordan is an American in the InternationalBrigades who travels to Spain to oppose the fascist forcesof Francisco Franco. As an experienced dynamiter, he wasordered by a communist Russian general to travel behindenemy lines and destroy a bridge, with the aid of a bandof local antifascist guerrillas. In their camp, RobertJordan meets María, a young Spanish woman whose lifehad been shattered by the execution of her parents andher rape by the Falangists (part of the fascist coalition) atthe outbreak of the war. His strong sense of duty clasheswith both guerrilla leader Pablos unwillingness tocommit to an operation that would endanger himself andhis band, and his new found love to life arises out of hislove for María.
The CharactersThe novel has three types of characters: those who are purelyfictional; those based on real people but fictionalized; and thosewho were actual figures in the war.Robert Jordan – American university instructor of Spanishlanguage and a specialist in demolitions and explosives.Anselmo - Elderly guide to Robert Jordan.Golz - Commander who ordered the bridges demolition.Pablo - Leader of a group of anti-fascist guerrillas.Rafael – Incompetent and lazy but well-intentioned guerrilla,and a gypsy.María – Robert Jordans young lover.Pilar – Wife of Pablo. An aged but strong woman, she is theleader of the guerrilla band.Agustín – Foul-mouthed, middle-aged guerrilla.El Sordo – Leader of a fellow band of guerrillas.
Hemingway’s HeroE v e n i f h ec a n n o t o v e r c o m et h e f o r c e s h ef i g h t s w i t h , h ea l w a y s f a c e sd e a t h a n dd a n g e r o u s w i t hd i g n i t y ,p r o v i d i n g a ne x a m p l e o f h o w“H e m i n g w a y ’s h e r o ” i s f i r s t o f a l lm o d e l l e d c l o s e l y u p o n t h e a u t h o rh i m s e l f . H e i s a n o u t d o o r s m a n b u th e i s n o t a y o k e l : h e i s s t r i c t l ys e n s i t i v e t o t h e r e a l i t y o f t h ew o r l d h e l i v e s i n a n d t h es u f f e r i n g i t i n f l i c t s .H e i s h o n o u r a b l e a n d b r a v e a n d h ew i s h e s h e w e r e a b l e t o d o t h e b e s ti n a n y s i t u a t i o n s .
ThemesDeath is a primary preoccupation of the novel. WhenRobert Jordan is assigned to blow up the bridge, heknows that he will not survive it.Pablo and El Sordo, leaders of the Republicanguerrilla bands, see that inevitability also.Suicide always looms as an alternative to suffering.Many of the characters, including Robert Jordan,would prefer death over capture and are prepared tokill themselves, be killed, or kill to avoid it. As the bookends, Robert Jordan, wounded and unable to travelwith his companions, waits a final ambush that will endhis life. He prepares himself against the crueloutcomes of suicide to avoid capture, or inevitabletorture for the extraction of information and death at
Hemingway and SuicideFrom boyhood on, Hemingway was fascinated by death andparticularly by suicide : five of his seven completed novels endwith the death of a male protagonist, a sixth ends with the deathof the heroine. His preoccupation with suicide was brought to himduring 1920 when he began to suffer from attacks of depression.The suicide of his father left a mark to him but he alwaysidentified the loss of money and the bad relationship with womenas the most important causes of his suicide.
Narrative StyleThe book is written in the third person limited omniscient narrative mode.The action and dialogue are punctuated by extensive thought sequences toldfrom the viewpoint of Robert Jordan. The novel also contains thoughtsequences of other characters, including Pilar and Anselmo.Hemingway frequently used images to produce the dense atmosphere ofviolence and death his books are renowned for; the main image of For Whomthe Bell Tolls is the automatic weapon. As he had done in "A Farewell toArms", Hemingway employs the fear of modern armament to destroyromantic conceptions of the ancient art of war: combat, sportsman likecompetition and the aspect of hunting. Heroism becomes butchery: the mostpowerful picture employed here is the shooting of Marías parents againstthe wall of a slaughterhouse. The novel also contains imagery of soil andearth, most famously when Jordan was on intimate with María and feels "theearth move out and away from under them" then afterwards asks María,"Did thee feel the earth move?“.
Curiosities … A film adaptation ofHemingways novel,directed by Sam Wood ,was released in 1943starring Gary Cooperand Ingrid Bergman . Itwas nominated fornine Academy Awards ,including Best Picture,Best Actor and BestActress ; however, onlythe Greekactress Katina Paxinou