A Farewell to Arms is one of Ernest Hemingway’s best selling novels, and it established him as a spectacular, modern day author. This novel is divided into five books, and it’s based on his experience in the Italian campaign of World War I. It was published in 1929 by Scribner, and has 355 pages. And furthermore, this novel is so amazing that it first made its way on stage in 1930 being adapted by Laurence Stallings, and then it was produced in films in 1932 and in a 1957 remake. In 1966, it became a three part miniseries for television. Even today’s top actors, Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell, had a hand in it by depicting Hemingway’s life as an ambulance driver in the Italian army. And lastly, a stage adaptation of this novel that includes video projection was created and toured in Italy and England in 2014.
The Main Character’s Storyline
The main character in this book is Frederic Henry, who serves as a Lieutenant in the Italian army in the ambulance corps. This movie is filled with the ups and downs of his journey in love, loss, and all that comes with it during his journey of this time period.
The Details of the Novel
In this story, Frederick Henry is an American, and he felled in love with Catherine Barkley, a nurse from England, during the first World War. One can imagine that he wasn’t looking for love, especially during the onset of war, but falling in love happened for him anyway. When Frederic was wounded on the Italian front, he was transferred to a Milan’s hospital where Catherine tended to his care. They spent time together throughout the summer in Milan, and they fell in love as Frederic slowly recovered. After the wound in his knee healed, he was diagnosed with jaundice. Nevertheless, he still was soon transferred out of the hospital, even after being discovered with alcohol, to return to the Italian front for the war. And sometime throughout this time, Catherine discovers that she is three months pregnant.
When Frederick returned to his unit, he saw that the morale was significantly reduced. Then shortly afterwards, the Austrians had broken through the Italian lines at the Battle of Caporetto, in which Italians retreated. It was a hectic and slow retreat that lead to Frederic and his unit getting off the trail, and they became lost. Being frustrated, Frederic murdered a sergeant for insubordination, and then was taken by the military police once Frederick and his men caught up to the main retreat. This is where officers were interrogated, and executed due to treachery, which reportedly led to the Italian defeat. After noticing all of the interrogation and execution, Frederic escaped. He heads back to Milan for Catherine, but she was sent to Stresa. Nevertheless, Frederic and Catherine reunited and spent some time together in Stresa. Once finding out that he will be arrested soon, Frederic and Catherine moved away in a rowboat to Switzerland. They lived peacefully in the mountains until she went into labor. And as a result, their baby boy was stillborn, and Catherine dies from hemorrhaging.
Some Background History & Continual Popularity
Some parts of this novel were written in Piggott, Arkansas. His wife at that time, Pauline Pfeiffer, lived there. And the other parts of the novel were written in Mission Hills, Kansas, as his wife was waiting to deliver their baby. As a matter of fact, his wife was undergoing a C-section as Hemingway wrote the scene of Catherine’s childbirth.
This novel was also first serialized in the Scribner’s Magazine for the issues of May 1929 to October 1929. The book was alsopublished with a first edition in September 1929, and it ran off approximately 31,000 copies.
The novel was so successful that it made Hemingway financially independent. It is one of Ernest Hemingway’s best selling novels, in which established him as a spectacular, modern day author. And mass productions of it were used in stage, film, remakes, and adaptations. There are even different recent projects that adapted this work. For instance, Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell, used this work by depicting Hemingway’s life as an ambulance driver in the Italian army. And lastly, a stage adaptation of this novel which includes video projection was created and toured in Italy and England in 2014. As a matter of fact, the Hemingway Library Edition released its edition in July 2012 in which was practically an exact facsimile of the first edition. With this newly published edition, an appendix is presented with many alternate endings that Hemingway is reported to have written for the novel. Also, these alternate endings are added with certain pieces from Hemingway’s earlier draft manuscripts.