When Ernest Hemingway combined his “consciously bald” style with his experiences as a World War I ambulance driver, the resulting novel was an immediate success. Published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms not only revisits the conflict that had ended just a decade earlier; it also tells of romance. Sadly — not that dutiful American-lit students would expect to be cheered up by Hemingway — the love story isn’t any less tragic than the war. Lieutenant Frederic Henry and English nurse Catherine Barkley have to face the fact that death can make its presence known off the battlefield as well as on.
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