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)
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.
Perhaps a different narrator would have made a difference. I've enjoyed Campbell Scott's performances in the past. This time he sounds completely different, uninterested and in need of a cup of coffee. It's a short read in print or find a different narrator. Reading took away from the story so I can't give it more stars.
Everyone has a different concept of what makes great literature. For at least one friend of mine it has a lot to do with the use of literary devices and surprising twists. That's fine, but I think to be great literature, you have to start with a great story. Without a satisfying and sensible story, you've got nothing no matter how cleverly the story is constructed.
Fortunately, For Whom the Bell Tolls is, in my books, great literature. It is a compelling war story and it is superbly told (and very well narrated as well).
It is the story of an American who volunteers to fight in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists and with (are you sitting down, my American friends?) the communists. He is assigned a very difficult mission and faces serious challenges created by a key member of his team, among other causes. The story takes place over a couple of days, but there is a lot of drama and genuine-feeling emotion packed into those days. I don't want to spoil the story, so I'll stop there.
If you want to read a great war story and enjoy some great writing, look no further! I really enjoyed it, as have generations before me have and as generations after me will. Don't miss out.
The induction of Brevity
those involving action
Campbell Scott did a good job of narrating a bloated dialogue. I drive for a living and found that I missed whole passages to daydreaming because of the lack of action in this book. Internalized dialogue is quite frankly boring and this book is mostly that. I like Hemingway, one of my favorites is the Sun Also Rises, but I chose poorly in this instance.
I like to listen to audio books whilst mountain biking.
My second Hemingway in a month in a life that previously had ignored this great man. Lovely performance by Mr Scott. I guess that's in his genes.
Because of this book I have been to Wikipedia so many times, from articles on the Spanish Civil War, to the page dedicated to Spanish profanity. When you listen, you 'll see why. This book is entertains and moves you, but also broadens you knowledge of world history. What more could you ask for? I thought about the famous Chapter 10 for days afterward.
Now I am moving on to The Old Man and the Sea.
This was my first experience with an audio book, and I was impressed. Having never read this classic, I figured a long driving trip would be a perfect opportunity to try audible.com's offering. The reader amazed me with his ability to use foreign accents and different voice tones -- acting out the various characters. Without question, this was worth the money. I will surely buy other audio books in the near future.
Mountainbiker, Skier, Riverman, Dzedo
I first read this book in high school in the late 60s. In re reading/listening recently, it came across as very musty and dated. It was published during WWII. EH pushed the limits of what was permissible in terms of writing about sexuality and the use of profanity. (He apparently could more freely write about war and violence.) There's a lot of sex, violence and profanity in the book and none of it seems gratuitous. But the contrivances that EH was forced to employ - these seemed artificial and diminished what is otherwise a very powerful read. FWBT is very strong but is also sappy and chauvinistic. I would recommend it as THE Hemingway book to read in order to glimpse why EH is at once considered one of our most accomplished writers but also one of our most ridiculed. It is not his best book but I know of no other book of his that so well reveals his unique strengths along with his weaknesses. A must read for anyone interested in EH, which is anyone interested in American literature. Finally, Campbell Scott is a very good narrator. Hope he does more audiobooks.
This book is NOT censored. It is an odd device Hemingway employs by substituting "obscenity" or "unprintable" for Spanish cuss words. Well narrated, great writing.
I did not enjoy listening to this book. The story line kept me interested but the narrator made me want to shut it off more than once. Not a very pleasant experience, especially considering this is Hemingway!
Can't really tell.
Monotone voice. Didn't bring the characters to life.
Yes. Think twice about purchasing books narrated by Mr. Scott. Sorry.
"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.
"good reading but he needs mis pronounces shone"
the guy says shone weirdly. apart from that it's a great story and a decent performance. Ivanhoe is up next. wish me luck
A thoroughly philosophical book with a great story narrated well. Hemingway is masterful in conveying detailed accounts of life outdoors in wartime.
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