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... А Б В Г Д Е Ж З И К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

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American Literature books summary

rely on repetition and rhythm for much of their effect. The resulting

terse, concentrated prose is concrete and unemotional yet is often resonant

and capable of conveying great irony through understatement. Hemingway's

use of dialogue was similarly fresh, simple, and natural-sounding. The

influence of this style was felt worldwide wherever novels were written,

particularly from the 1930s through the '50s.A consummately contradictory

man, Hemingway achieved a fame surpassed by few, if any, American authors

of the 20th century. The virile nature of his writing, which attempted to

re-create the exact physical sensations he experienced in wartime, big-game

hunting, and bullfighting, in fact masked an aesthetic sensibility of great

delicacy. He was a celebrity long before he reached middle age, but his

popularity continues to be validated by serious critical opinion.


Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in the summer of 1899.

As a young man, he left home to become a newspaper writer in Kansas City.

Early in 1918, he joined the Italian Red Cross and became an ambulance

driver in Italy, serving in the battlefield in the First World War, in

which the Italians allied with the British, the French, and the Americans,

against Germany and Austria-Hungary. In Italy, he observed the carnage and

the brutality of the Great War firsthand. On July 8, 1918, a trench mortar

shell struck him while he crouched beyond the front lines with three

Italian soldiers.

Though Hemingway embellished the story of his wounding over the years,

this much is certain: he was transferred to a hospital in Milan, where he

fell in love with a Red Cross nurse named Agnes von Kurowsky. Scholars are

divided over Agnes' role in Hemingway's life and writing, but there is

little doubt that his affair with her provided the background for A

Farewell to Arms, which many critics consider to be Hemingway's greatest


Published in 1929, A Farewell to Arms tells the story of Frederic

Henry, a young American ambulance driver and first lieutenant ("Tenente")

in the Italian army. Hit in the leg by a trench mortar shell in the

fighting between Italy and Austria-Hungary, Henry is transferred to a

hospital in Milan, where he falls in love with an English Red Cross nurse

named Catherine Barkley. The similarities to Hemingway's own life are


After the war, when he had published several novels and become a famous

writer, Hemingway claimed that the account of Henry's wounding in A

Farewell to Arms was the most accurate version of his own wounding he had

ever written. Hemingway's life certainly gave the novel a trenchant

urgency, and its similarity to his own experience no doubt helped him

refine the terse, realistic, descriptive style for which he became famous,

and which made him one of the most influential American writers of the

twentieth century.


Book I, Chapters 1-6

Frederic Henry begins his story by describing his situation: he is an

American in the Italian army near the front with Austria-Hungary, a mile

from the fighting. Every day he sees troops marching and hears gunfire;

often the King rides through the town. A cholera epidemic has spread

through the army, he says, but only seven thousand die of it.

His unit moves to a town in Gorizia, further from the fighting, which

continues in the mountains beyond. His situation is relatively enjoyable;

the town is not badly damaged, with nice cafes and two brothels--one for

the officers and one for the enlisted men. One day Henry sits in the mess

hall with a group of fellow officers taunting the military priest. A

captain accuses the priest of cavorting with women, and the priest blushes;

though he is not religious, Henry treats the priest kindly. After teasing

the priest, the Italians argue over where Henry should take his leave;

because the winter is approaching, the fighting will ease, and Henry, an

ambulance driver, will be able to spend some time away from the front. The

priest encourages him to visit the cold, clear country of Abruzzo, but the

other men have other suggestions.

When he returns from his leave, Henry discusses his trip with his

roommate, the surgeon Rinaldi. Henry claims to have traveled throughout

Italy, and Rinaldi, who is obsessed with beautiful girls, tells him about a

group of new English women and claims to be in love with a Miss Barkley.

Henry loans him fifty lire (Italian money). At dinner that night, the

priest is hurt that Henry failed to visit Abruzzi. Henry feels guilty, and

tells him that he wanted to visit Abruzzi.

The next morning, Henry examines the gun batteries and quizzes the

mechanics; then he travels to visit Miss Barkley and the English nurses

with Rinaldi. He is immediately struck by Miss Barkley's beauty, and

especially by her long blonde hair. Miss Barkley tells Henry that her

fiancee was killed in the battle of the Somme, and Henry tells her he has

never loved anyone. On the way back, Rinaldi observes that Miss Barkley

liked Henry more than she liked Rinaldi, but that her friend, Helen

Ferguson, was nice too.

The next day, Henry calls on Miss Barkley again. The head nurse

expresses surprise that an American would want to join the Italian army,

and tells him that Miss Barkley is gone-- but says that Henry may come back

to see her at seven o'clock that night. Henry drives back along the

trenches, eats dinner, then returns to see Miss Barkley. He finds her

waiting with Helen Ferguson; Helen excuses herself, and Henry tries to put

his arm around her. She refuses, but allows him to kiss her. Then she

begins to cry, and Henry is annoyed. When Henry goes home, Rinaldi is


Three nights later, Henry sees Miss Barkley again; she tells him to

call her Catherine. They walk through the garden, and Henry tells Catherine

he loves her, though he knows he does not. They kiss again, and he thinks

of their relationship as an elaborate game. To his surprise, she suddenly

tells him that he plays the game very well, but that it is a rotten game.

Henry sees Rinaldi later that evening, and Rinaldi, observing Henry's

romantic confusion, feel glad that he did not become involved with a

British nurse.

Book I, Chapters 7-12

Driving back from his post, Henry picks up a soldier with a hernia;

they discuss the War, and Henry arranges a way to get the man to a

hospital. Henry thinks about the War, and realizes that he feels no danger

from it. At dinner that night, the men drink and tease the priest; Henry

nearly forgets he had promised to go see Catherine, and before he rushes

over, Rinaldi gives him some coffee to sober him up. At the nurses' villa,

Helen Ferguson tells Henry that Catherine is sick and will not see him.

Henry feels guilty and surprisingly lonely.

The next day an attack is scheduled. Henry goes to see Catherine, and

she gives him a Saint Anthony medal. He spends the day driving to the spot

where the fighting will take place.Henry and his men wait in the trenches

as the shelling begins. They are hungry, and Henry risks being shot to

fetch some cheese. As he sits down to eat it, he hears a loud noise and

sees a flash and believes he has died. A trench mortar shell has struck him

in the leg. Wounded men fall all around him.

Henry's surviving men carry him to safety; a British doctor treats him

on the field, then sends him in an ambulance to the field hospital. Henry

lies in intense pain. Rinaldi comes to visit him at the field hospital, and

tells Henry that he will get a medal. Henry shows no interest in medals.

Rinaldi leaves him a bottle of cognac and promises to send Miss Barkley to

see him soon.

At dusk, the priest comes to visit. They discuss the war, then God.

Henry tells the priest he does not love God--he says he does not love

anything much. The priest tells him he will find love, and it will make him

happy. Henry claims to have always been happy, but the priest says Henry

will know another kind of happiness when he finds it. Half delirious, Henry

thinks about Italian towns, then falls asleep.

Rinaldi and a Major from their group come to visit Henry the night

before he moves to a better hospital in Milan. Henry is still half-

delirious, and they drink profusely. After a confused conversation, Henry

falls into a drunken sleep. The next day, he is taken on a train to Milan.

Book II, Chapters 13-17

At Milan, Frederic Henry is taken to the American hospital. A young,

pretty nurse named Miss Gage makes his bed and takes his temperature. The

head nurse, Miss Van Campen, irritates Henry by not allowing him to have

wine. Henry pays some Italians to sneak wine into his room with the evening


In the morning, Miss Gage tells Henry that Miss Barkley has come to

work at the hospital--she claims not to like her, but Henry tells her she

will learn to like her. The porter brings a barber to shave Henry, but the

barber mistakes Henry for an Austrian soldier and threatens to cut his

throat. After the barber and the porter leave, Miss Barkley comes in, and

Henry realizes he is in love with her. He pulls her down into the bed with

him, and they make love for the first time.

Henry goes through a round of doctors who remove some of the shrapnel

from his leg. The doctors seem incompetent, and tell Henry he will have to

wait six months for an operation if he wants to keep his leg. He cannot

stand the thought of spending six months in bed, and asks for another

opinion; the house doctor says he will send for Dr. Valentini. When Dr.

Valentini comes, he is cheerful, energetic, and competent and says he will

perform the operation in the morning.Catherine spends the night in Henry's

room, and they see a bat. Catherine prepares him for the operation, and

warns him not to talk about their affair while under the anaesthetic.

After the operation, Henry is very sick. As he recovers, three other

patients come to the hospital--a boy from Georgia with malaria, a boy from

New York with malaria and jaundice, and a boy who tried to unscrew the fuse

cap from an explosive shell for a souvenir. Henry develops an appreciation

for Helen Ferguson, who helps him pass notes to Catherine while she is on

duty. Catherine continues to stay with Henry every night, but Henry and

Miss Gage finally convince her to take three nights off of night duty--Miss

Van Campen has commented that Henry always sleeps till noon.

Book II, Chapters 18-24

That summer Henry learns to walk on crutches, and he and Catherine

enjoy Milan. They befriend the headwaiter at a restaurant called the Gran

Italia, and Catherine continues to see Henry every night. They discuss

marriage, but Catherine remains opposed to the idea for the time being.

They pretend to be married instead. Catherine tells Henry that her love for

him has become her religion.

When not with Catherine, Henry spends time with a soldier named Ettore

Moretti, an Italian from San Francisco who is very proud of his war medals.

Ettore is extremely boastful about his military prowess, and Catherine

finds him annoying and dull. One night Henry and Catherine lie in bed

listening to the rain, and Catherine asks Henry if he will always love her.

She says she is afraid of the rain, and begins to cry.

Henry and Catherine go to the races with Helen Ferguson, whom Henry now

calls "Fergie," and the boy who tried to unscrew the nose cap on the

shrapnel shell. They bet on a horse backed by a racing expert and former

criminal named Mr. Myers; they win, but Catherine feels dissatisfied, so

they pick a horse for the next race on their own. Even though they lose,

Catherine feels much better.

By September, Henry's leg is nearly healed. He receives some leave time

from the hospital, and Catherine tells him she will arrange to go with him.

She then gives him a piece of startling news: she is six months pregnant.

Catherine worries that Henry feels trapped, and promises not to make

trouble for him, but he tells her he feels cheerful and thinks she is

wonderful. Catherine talks about the obstacles they will face, and mentions

the old quote about how the coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but

one. She says that, in reality, the brave man dies perhaps two thousand

deaths in his imagination--he simply does not mention them.

The next morning it begins to rain, and Henry is diagnosed with

jaundice. Miss Van Campen finds empty liquor bottles in Henry's room, and

accuses him of producing jaundice through alcoholism to avoid being sent

back to the front. Miss Gage helps Henry clear things up, but in the end he

loses his leave time.

Henry prepares to travel back to the front. He buys a new pistol, and

takes Catherine to a hotel. The hotel makes Catherine feel like a

prostitute, but before the night is over they feel at home there. Before

midnight, they walk downstairs and Henry calls a carriage for Catherine.

They have a brief good-bye, and Henry boards the crowded train that will

take him back to the war.

Book III, Chapters 25-28

After returning to Gorizia, Henry has a talk with the major about the

war--it was a bad year, the major says; Henry was lucky to get hit when he

did. Henry then goes to find Rinaldi; while he waits for his friend, he

thinks about Catherine. Rinaldi comes into the room and is glad to see

Henry; concerned, he examines Henry's wounded knee. He says that he has

become a skilled surgeon from the constant work with the wounded, but now

that the fighting has died down temporarily he has a frustrating lack of

work. They talk about Catherine, and at dinner the officers tease the


After dinner, Henry goes to talk with the priest. The priest thinks the

war will end soon, but Henry remains skeptical. After the priest leaves,

Henry goes to sleep; he wakes when Rinaldi comes back, but quickly falls

asleep again.

The next morning, he travels to the Bainsizza area, and sees the damage

caused by the war: the whole village is destroyed. Henry meets a man named

Gino, and they discuss the fighting. Gino says the summer's losses were not

in vain, and Henry falls silent--he says words like those embarrass him. He

says that the names of villages and the numbers of streets have more

meaning than words like sacred and glorious.That night, the rain comes down

hard, and the Croatians begin a bombardment. In the morning, the Italians

learn that the attacking forces include Germans, and they become very

afraid--they have had little contact with the Germans in the war so far,

and prefer to keep it that way. The next night, the Italian line has been

broken, and the Italian forces begin a large-scale retreat.

As the forces slowly move out, Henry returns to the villa, but finds it

empty; Rinaldi is gone with the hospital. Henry finds the drivers under his

command, including Piani, Bonello, and Aymo. Before leaving in the morning,

Henry gets a good night's sleep.

They drive out slowly through the town, in an endless line of soldiers

and vehicles. Henry takes a turn sleeping, and shortly after he wakes, the

column stalls. He finds that Bonello has given two engineer sergeants a

ride, and Aymo has two girls in his car. Exhausted, Henry falls asleep

again, and dreams of Catherine.That night, columns of peasants join the

retreating army. In the early morning Henry and his men stop briefly at a

farmhouse, eating a large breakfast. Soon, they continue slowly on their

way, rejoining the line of trucks and soldiers.

Book III, Chapters 29-32

Aymo's car gets stuck in the soft ground; the men are forced to cut

brush hurriedly to place under the tires for traction. Henry orders the two

engineer sergeants riding with Bonello to help; afraid of being overtaken

by the enemy, they refuse, and try to leave. Henry draws his gun and shoots

one of them, but the other escapes. Bonello takes Henry's pistol and kills

the wounded sergeant.

They begin to cut branches and twigs; in the end, they are unable to

save the car. Henry gives some money to the two girls travelling with Aymo

and encourages them to go down to a nearby village, Aymo gets in Henry's

vehicle, and they set out, now cut off from the main column.

Crossing a bridge, Henry sees a nearby car full of German soldiers. As

they travel, they begin to notice more and more signs of German occupation,

and they worry that they have been completely cut off from Italian-

controlled land. They proceed with caution; a sudden burst of gunfire kills

Aymo. They realize he was shot by the Italian rear guard--the Italians are

ahead, but because the rear guard is afraid, they are almost as dangerous

as the Germans.

Fearing death, Bonello leaves in hopes of being taken prisoner. The men

hide in a barn that night, and in the morning they rejoin the Italians. The

enlisted men become furious with the officers, and Piani is afraid they

will try to kill Henry. Suddenly, two men (battle police) seize hold of

Henry. They seize Henry because he is a foreigner, and in the chaos of the

retreat they intend to shoot him for a spy. When they look away for a

moment, Henry dives into the river and swims away.

After floating in the river for what seems like a very long time, Henry

climbs out, removes the stars from his shirt, and counts his money. He

crosses the Venetian plain that day, then jumps aboard a military train

that evening, hiding under a canvas with guns.

Lying under the canvas, Henry thinks about the army, about the war, and

about Catherine. He realizes that he will be pronounced dead, and assumes

he will never see Rinaldi again. Rinaldi has been concerned he will die of

syphilis, and Henry worries for him. Exhausted and hungry, he imagines

finding Catherine and going away with her to a safe place.

Book V, Chapters 38-41

That fall, Henry and Catherine live in a brown wooden house on the side

of a mountain. They enjoy the company of Mr. and Mrs. Guttingen, who live

downstairs, and they remain very happy together; sometimes they walk down

the mountain path in Montreux. One day Catherine gets her hair done in

Montreux, and afterwards they go to have a beer--Catherine thinks beer is

good for the baby, because it will keep it small; she is worried about the

baby's size because the doctor has said she has a narrow pelvis. They talk

again about getting married, but Catherine wants to wait until after the

baby is born when she will be thin again.

Three days before Christmas, the snow comes. Catherine asks Henry if he

feels restless, and he says no, though he does wonder about his friends on

the front, such as Rinaldi and the priest.

Henry decides to grow a beard and by mid-January, he has one. Through

January and February he and Catherine remain very happy; in March they move

into town to be near the hospital. They stay in a hotel there for three

weeks; Catherine buys baby clothes, Henry works out in the gym, and they

both feel that the baby will arrive soon.

Finally, around three o'clock one morning, Catherine goes into labor.

They go to the hospital, where Catherine is given a nightgown and a room.

She encourages Henry to go out for breakfast, and he does, talking to the

old man who serves him. When he returns to the hospital, he finds that

Catherine has been taken to the delivery room. He goes in to see her; the

doctor stands by, and Catherine takes an anaesthetic gas when her

contractions become very painful. At two o'clock in the afternoon, Henry

goes out for lunch.

He goes back to the hospital; Catherine is now intoxicated from the

gas. The doctor thinks her pelvis is too narrow to allow the baby to pass

through, and advises a Caesarian section. Catherine suffers unbearable pain

and pleads for more gas. Finally they wheel her out on a stretcher to

perform the operation. Henry watches the rain outside.

Soon the doctor comes out and takes Henry to see the baby, a boy. Henry

has no feeling for the child. He then goes to see Catherine, and at first

worries that she is dead. When she asks him about their son, he tells her

he was fine, and the nurse gives him a quizzical look. Ushering him

outside, the nurse tells him that the boy is not fine--he strangled on the

umbilical cord, and never began to breathe.

He goes out for dinner, and when he returns the nurse tells him that

Catherine is hemorrhaging. He is filled with terror that she will die. When

he is allowed to see her, she tells him she will die, and asks him not to

say the same things to other girls. Henry goes into the hallway while they

try to treat Catherine, but nothing works; finally, he goes back into the

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