The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan's love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo's last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise.
"If the function of a writer is to reveal reality," Maxwell Perkins wrote Hemingway after reading the manuscript, "no one ever so completely performed it." Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author's previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time.
©1952 Ernest Hemingway; (P)2006 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
"This is the best book Ernest Hemingway has written, the fullest, the deepest, the truest. It will, I think, be one of the major novels in American literature." (The New York Times Book Review)
I have long been a Hemingway fan but have not been through all his writings. If you have any doubt that Hemingway was a literary giant you need only listen to this title. Between listens I would find myself thinking about the characters. The thread of their lives, and their very souls, were exposed brilliantly. I finished the listen days ago and still find myself thinking about it. I feel like I was there, with them, in the mountains, dedicated to the cause. In a sense, I'm still there, heart pressed to the pine needles on the forest floor along side Robert Jordan. In this book, at least, Hemingway was that good. Give it a try; I think you'll like this one.
Wow .. what an astoundingly good book. I had no idea the writing would be so accessible, and at the same time so profound. It is truly a rare thing! I’m left cursing myself for not having read Hemingway years ago. Spend a few minutes refreshing the basics of the Spanish Civil War before jumping in .. then enjoy the ride. Look forward especially to the lengthy description of the smell of death ….it’s a master class in descriptive prose.
I have read a number of reviews of this book and found them OK. This was one of the first books of this type that I have listened to. It turns out to my surprise, to be my favorite. I have listened may times now and I have a fairly long commute to and from work. I like the description of the people, era, story. I'm not a literary person to dissect the text. It's just a great story, Just let it unfold, it's worth the time... The narrator is great, he's not mundane or mono-tone, he does a great job on the characters.
Having read some of the previous reviews about censorship, and the editing out of curse words in this audio version, I felt that I should add a quick note on Hemingway's use of language in this novel. To give a sort of Spanish feel to the language, he writes a good portion of his dialogue a though it were directly translated from Spanish. So, "What passes with you?" can bear some getting used to. Also, he uses "thou" and "thy" at times in place of "you" to represent the moving between formal (usted) and informal (tu) Spanish. But, the big kicker (the one that seems to be making listeners upset) is the way he handles cursing. I believe that lines like, "I obscenity in the milk of thy tiredness," and "Where the un-nameable is this vileness I am to guard" are causing people to think that the audiobook has been censored in some way. It hasn't. Although, I'm not entirely clear on why Hemingway decided edit his English curse words in this way (strangely, the ones in Spanish are left intact), they are part of his original text; I checked my paper-bound version to be sure.
So, I hope you don't let reviews warning of censorship (or my technical review here) scare you away from a truly wonderful, thought provoking novel. You should read one of the reviews discussing the horror of war, love in the face of death, excitement of battle, camaraderie of soldiers, and think about buying (or not) the audiobook in those terms.
One of the better books
Great writing, fascinating characters and a wonderful story
Very much likes Scott's narration. Understated with exactly the right tone for the story.
The story made me contemplative, rather than laugh or cry.
It seems an abomination that the language has been sanitised. I assume that was done to meet a certain rating, but it seems like a poor decision to say the least. It's 2012, and we're still butchering books?If you can get past that, a thoroughly recommended listen and one I will surely listen to again.
"For Whom the Bell Tolls," is arguably, one of the best novels of American 20th Century literature. Personally, I like Hemingways "Old Man and the Sea," perhaps a little bit better, but "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is certainly a richer, broader and more in-depth story. Hemingway, of course, is up there with the great luminaries of American literature. Today, there is simply no American writer alive who comes close to him or his contemporaries. The auditory rendition of this novel is quite good and clear. A very minor point, but not enough to really detract, is that at a few points the timing on the spoken narration is slightly out of synch as the characters change. But, it's really quite minor. As for listening to this novel, it is just a superb experience. It is so nice to hear the English language used the way Hemingway does, he is like a Zen master of the English language. In-depth, detailed characters are developed but with such expertise that the character never seems to be over-shadowed by the role. Hemingway is also a rare writer who knows how to speak to men, he understands what drives them and no matter how complicated the character, the inevitable faults and humanity still shine thru. So, if you want to take a break from Podcasts, Global Warming, Spy Novels and Political Thrillers, here is your perfect chance. You will not regret it.
Editing out the rough language from this book was annoying and unnecessary. I don't even undertand how it was legal!
Selling me this edited audiobook without first telling me that somebody had "cleaned up" Hemingway's lively and realistic language was also unfair to me, your customer.
The book is great and Hemingway's descriptions of the landscape and people make you feel as if you are there, but the dubbing over of the curse words was rediculous. It takes away from the force of what some of the characters are trying to express. Really not needed. Just note that it has explicit language. This is how censorship begins.
I had not read Hemingway at all except for Old Man and the Sea.
What I liked about For Whom the Bell Tolls is that it communicated intensely what life was like in the Spanish Civil War. Who needs a history book? You know it won't tell the tale. The remarkable thing about Hemingway is that he describes the whole war in the book. If you wanted numbers, dates and the politics of the war, one more book, or Wikipedia, would do that for you. Otherwise, this books tells the story of partisan warfare; it puts you right there. It tells about war, the soldiers on both sides.
I am amazed at Hemingway's clarity of perception at the use of simple language to evoke scenes and character.
I love the use of languge in this book! And the reader was terrific.
"For whom the bell tolls"
I decided to try this one as I wanted to experience some of the classics that have passed me by. All I can is 'its a masterpiece' what have I been missing! I'm going through all his work now-can't get enough he's a genius. So believable, so much detail without ever being boring, so tender yet describes man's inhumanity to man so graphically yet without a hint of gratuitousness. Buy it you'l love it. The narrator is absolutely suburb and reads the work as if he has read it a thousand times and knows it intimately and thoroughly loves it, which gives the whole experience a ***** rating.
"It Tolls For Thee"
This is a masterpiece. So human, so true.
There is no more to say.
"Read this One."
My wife happened to buy this book the same day that I downloaded it. So I have made my way through by reading it and listening to it, (though never at the same time!). To be honest the narration of this book is extremely flat. In conversation between the lead character and his love interest for instance, the narration becomes irritating in the extreme, leading the listener to wish they would just shut up and go to sleep. This does not happen when reading the book, which is a much more enjoyable experience altogether.
"Brilliant account of Spanish Civil War"
Just finished listening to the unabridged version of 'For whom the bell tolls'. Enjoyed the book thoroughly. Great study of the American dynamiter based in camp with the Spanish rebels. A number of the characters catch the imagination - in particular Pablo. He's not an attractive character - not trustworthy, not a team player, a drunk - and yet he plays a key role in the unfolding events. He clearly resents the presence of the young American - and yet he has a begrudging respect for some of his skills and thought processes. For much of the book it resembles a play rather than a novel - as we follow the unfolding interactions between the players based in the cave in the mountains. However eventually we move to some marvellous action scenes - as the cavalry arrive, as rebels are cut down and, finally, the taking of the bridge.
The book is a wonderful war story - and tackles head on the conflicts, the challenges to individuals and groups, the brutality and the heroism. And Hemingway brilliantly intertwines the romance between the Spanish girl and the American hero. And thrown in through the book a great account of bullfighting, failed matadors and anti heroes.
"A CLASSIC BUT NOT FOR EVERYONE."
Having never read any Hemingway before I decided it was time to be educated. For me this is by far the best way to tackle For Whom The Bell tolls because I really don't think that I would have had the staying power or necessary imagination to power through the book, however, Campbell Scott's narration brings it to life wonderfully. For other Hemingway novices though I have to add that this by no means an 'easy listen' and if you want fast moving action I wouldn't chose this (are all of Hemingway's books like this?). The layers of human relationships, action and history are built up so painfully slowly that I needed perseverance to keep going and the language is old fashioned and peculiar sounding, obviously reflecting the times and Spanish translation. Before long though I was hooked, not so my teenage son who was listening; after a 5 minute argument was narrated in minute detail he lost interest and he couldn't believe that they were still just talking about blowing the bridge up even though I'd been listening for hours.
"Simply a classic"
A truly powerful novel, enhanced by the author's use of an almost biblical style in translating Spanish dialogue to English. Beautifully written, and I defy the reader not to cry at the end.
The narration was first class, and totally suited the characters and setting for the novel
Robert of course
Couldn't wait to put it on in the car
I'm struggling to get through this book.
It's not terrible, but I can't really warm to it in the same way I did with The Old Man And The Sea. I think it is partly because the narrator of latter was absolutely incredible, and the narrator of this one is just fairly good.
"It's just a bad reading"
I like Hemingway, he's not my favourite author but if you can read with time and place in mend then his writing is great. I'm afraid I don't know any other examples of Campbell Scotts work but he forced me to go back to print on this one. It surely just couldn't be the accent but I can't put my finger on it other than I just didn't want to listen anymore. I've almost a hundred audiobooks and this is one of only 2 I've never finished and given how little effort is required to just listen that's not good.
"A classic that has it all"
I love the rhythm of Hemmingways sentences. As a non native English speaker i will never be able to get the rhythm as this audio edition can.
The magic mountain by Thomas Mann, both books stretch time by ingenious linguistic descriptions of people and events. Both describe the full spectrum of human imperfection in a way that creates a spark of sympathy for even the most extreme characters.
Not really, the slow but smooth way the story progresses welcomes the occasionally break.But it's always a relief to lose oneself again in the narration.
All human emotions like love, death, pain, joy, fear, hate and respect in this wonderful tale of a few days in a hostile Spain.
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