Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The 6 best Hemingway novels, ranked

Nancy W. Sindelar's new biography is Influencing Hemingway: The People and Places That Shaped His Life and Work. At Publishers Weekly she ranked the six best Hemingway novels.

Number two on the list:
A Farewell to Arms - Hemingway’s second novel is a high on my list because it is the fictional account of events that changed and informed his world view. When Hemingway left the security of the Midwest and went to Italy looking for adventure as an ambulance driver in World War I, he got more than he had bargained for. The idealistic Midwesterner joined the war to end all wars, ready to display honor and courage, but was blown up in a trench. Then he fell in love, contemplated marriage and was rejected by the woman he loved. His confrontation with death, his subsequent wound, and his first experience with love all became catalysts for developing a code of behavior for facing life’s challenges.

A Farewell to Arms was the fictional result of Hemingway’s experiences in Italy and initiates what would become one of the most dominant themes in his novels, the confrontation of death. Though Catherine Barkley’s character seems dated to contemporary female readers, the book still demonstrates that Hemingway used what he learned in Italy to show that war brings out the best and worst in men and women.
Read about another book on the list.

A Farewell to Arms also appears on Drew Barrymore's six best books list and Jeffrey Hart's list of five books essential to appreciating American literature of the 1920s, and is among Atul Gawande's ten favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue