every Starbucks should have a polar bear (scoradh) wrote,
every Starbucks should have a polar bear

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For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

Just for a change - a book I genuinely enjoyed! (I'm tempted to insert a lol here, but I'm not quite sure how it would fit.) I can’t say how much my opinion is influenced by the very arduous Henry James I read before this, but on the other hand - how could I resist a 'classic' that contains Your Mom jokes?

The only real quibble I have with it is that this is where Wheel of Tiresome!Robert Jordan got his penname. So, every time Hemingway wrote out the lead character's full title - which was often, idek - I instantly pictured stupid Rand Al Thor or whatever the fuck his name was and his posse of biatches and floating ruby daggers. IT WAS A LITTLE DISCONCERTING.

First of all, this was deceptively easy to read. I plowed through it in four days. (Okay, if that's not impressive, this was with hospitals and study and, er, extensive napping AS WELL). That's his prose in a nutshell: deceptive. It looks so simple and plain it seems as if anyone could do it - as if it should come naturally - but I've read enough in my time to say conclusively that this is not the case. And, while the thees and thous threw me at the beginning, I'm now having to consciously prevent myself from saying to my friends, "Art thou going for scones yet or must we hang around this obscenity of a tutorial with the BT-wearing Hungarian a while longer?'

I don't quite understand the lack of real swearing - was it that it's been editorially blacked out, or did he choose this option to make it publishable? At first I rolled my eyes, but I got so enamored of the obscenity this and obscenity that by the end that I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

I'm not a huge fan of war novels, and I know nothing about the Spanish Civil War. Fortunately, the side-stories - mainly Pilar's - about the smell of death, and the blood-coughing (my mind wants to turn haemoptysis into a verb, here) matador and the MURDER LINE OF FLAILS OMG were absolutely stunning. Move over, Salinger; if Hemingway's other novels are like this, I have a new hero.

"I obscenity in the milk of thy tiredness," Agustin said.
"Then go and befoul thyself," Pilar told him without heat.
"Thy mother," Agustin replied.

See? I wasn't lying about the your mom jokes!

This book is actually very funny, which I wasn't expecting and had all but given up on hoping for.

"And what do gypsies do in the war?" Robert Jordan asked him
"They keep on being gypsies."


"Que va," said the woman of Pablo. "The melon of Castile is for self abuse. The melon of Valencia is for eating.[...]"

IMO, all melons - all FRUIT - is for self abuse. But that's a personal thing and in no way should be taken as valid medical advice.

"Eatest thou always onions for breakfast?" Agustin asked.
"When there are any."
"Do all in thy country do this?"
"Nay," Robert Jordan said. "It is looked on badly there."
"I am glad," Agustin said. "I had always considered America a civilised country."

YEAH, NO THANKS AMERICA. On the other hand, this custom of eating doughnuts for breakfast is one of which I heartily approve. Continue with that in time for me to join in, k?

The Lieutenant-Colonel Miranda [...] had lost the love of his wife in Madrid while he was losing his digestion in Morocco, and became a Republican when he found he could not divorce his wife (there was never any question of recovering his digestion)

This is where the 'lol' goes, methinks.

Then there were the funny things that were also incredibly empathic when you scratched the surface.

"Thee came barefooted," he said.
"Then thee knew thou were coming to the bed."
"And you had no fear."
"Yes. Much. But more fear of how it would be to take my shoes off."

Because, you know, I always think about that in sex scenes. WHERE DO THE SHOES AND SOCKS GO? You can't have sex with socks on, that's gross.

"I was glad thou were hanging over my back when the shots were coming from behind us."
"What a swine," Maria said. "And was it for this the gypsy too carried me so much?"
"For that and to hold on to thy legs."

Just. Brilliant.

"Then," Maria said. "If you will teach me to shoot it either one of us could shoot the other and himself, or herself, if one were wounded and it were necessary to avoid capture."
"Very interesting," Robert Jordan said. "Do you have many ideas like that?"

Was a movie ever made of this? You could make a great movie of this, with BAM BAM fight scenes (not that I care for those) plus this awesome dialogue, if it weren't altered a whit.


[...] she wanted him never to forget that he was also protected by the Sacred Heart of Jesus that he wore still, she trusted, at all times over his own heart where it had been proven innumerable - this was underlined - times to have the power of stopping bullets. [...]
It was from the boy's novia, his fiancée, and it was quietly, formally, and completely hysterical with concern for his safety.

QUIET AND HYSTERICAL. Even now my nose is all tingly. (Does anyone else cry with their nose? Or is this another 'just me, then' things?)

I did not notice anything that passed for I could only see my father and my mother at the moment of the shooting and my mother saying, "Long live my husband who was Mayor of this village," and this was in my head like a scream that would not die but kept on and on. For my mother was not a Republican and she would not say, "Viva la Republica," but only Viva my father who lay there, on his face, by her feet.

I cannot textually render my feelings. Emoticons, then: ;______________________________;

Other things impressed moi that I would usually call philosophy, but won't in this case, because it's so subtle and cleverly inserted that it can't be. Philosophy is more ostentatious.

"You like to hunt?"
"Yes, man. More than anything. We all hunt in my village. You do not like to hunt?"
"No," said Robert Jordan. "I do not like to kill animals."
"With me it is the opposite," the old man said. "I do not like to kill men."


There is no language as filthy as Spanish. There are words for all the vile words in English and there are other words and expressions that are used in countries where blasphemy keeps pace with the austerity of religion.

SO TRUE. The Irish are terribly foul-mouthed too, and we were Holy Catholic Ireland for way too long.

Surely. He was the Bulldog of Villaconejos and not for anything would he have missed doing it each year in his village. But he knew there was no better feeling than that one the sound of the rain gave when he knew he would not have to do it.

I don't even GET this, but it's great, isn't it?

"But I wished to say it. Since we are different I am glad that thou art Roberto and I Maria. But if thou should ever wish to change I would be glad to change. I would be thee because I love thee so."

Maybe I feel it more because I've fallen in love again, but for me, this is exactly what real love is. Loving someone else so much you would be them. Just. Yes.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2009:
He Knew He Was Right, Anthony Trollope
The Bostonians, Henry James
Tags: book glomp 2009, inside of a dog it's too dark to read
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