A Farewell to Arms
Title: A Farewell to Arms
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publication Date: 1929
A Farewell to Arms Literary Guide
First published in September 1929, A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman Ernest Hemingway. The novel, divided into five sections or “books,” is set during the Italian campaign of the First World War, in which Hemingway had volunteered. He draws on his own experiences in the novel. From May 1928 through October 1929, the novel was serially published in the issues of Scribner’s Magazine. The first print-run of the novel was approximately 31,000 copies and it brought financial success to Hemingway, establishing him as a novelist.
In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway constantly mentions geographic locations, governments, and battles with which his readers from 1929 would have been familiar. The novel was published just a little more than a decade after the end of World War I. It is, therefore, imperative for today’s readers to have some background knowledge of World War I which began in 1914. After the assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand, along with Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was fighting against the combined forces of France, Great Britain, Italy, and Russia; the United States joined the Allied forces in 1917. At the beginning of the novel, in 1916, the reader finds the protagonist Frederic Henry, an ambulance driver for the Italian army, stationed at the war front lying along the then-border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is stationed at this location in order to engage the Austro-Hungarian armies and keep them from aiding the Germans on the western and eastern war fronts. The novelremarkably intertwines the element of the war with love. The war does not serve merely as a backdrop for Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley’s relationship but it continuously works as a determining factor to their doomed love.
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