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Reading Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls

Glossary and Commentary

408 pages
The Kent State University Press

A line-by-line analysis of one of Hemingway’s greatest novels

Published in 1940, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is widely considered a masterpiece of war literature. A bestseller upon its release, the novel has long been both admired and ridiculed for its depiction of Robert Jordan’s military heroism and wartime romance. Yet its validation of seemingly conflicting narratives and its rendering of the intricate world its characters inhabit, as well as its dense historical, literary, and biographical allusions, have made it a work that remains a focus of interest and study.

Alex Vernon, in this contribution to the Reading Hemingway series, mines the historical record to unprecedented depths, examining Hemingway’s drafts and correspondence, synthesizing the body of literary criticism about the novel, and engaging in close textual analysis. As a result, new and important insights into the complex situation of the Spanish Civil War—integral to the novel—emerge, enriching our understanding of the novel. Through Vernon’s comprehensive work, contemporary readers and scholars are reminded that For Whom the Bell Tolls is still vital, significant, and relevant.

Author Bio

Alex Vernon is the M. E. and Ima Graves Peace Professor of English at Hendrix College. He is the author of nine books, including three with Kent State University Press: Teaching Hemingway and War; Arms and the Self: War, the Military, and Autobiographical Writing; and most succinctly bred.