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A Farewell To Arms

A Farewell to Arms, a novel by Ernest Hemingway, set during the Italian campaign of World War I. The book, published in 1929, is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant ("Tenente") in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. The title is taken from a poem by 16th-century English dramatist George Peele.

A Farewell to Arms is about a love affair between the expatriate American Henry and Catherine Barkley against the backdrop of the First World War, cynical soldiers, fighting and the displacement of populations. The publication of A A Farewell to Arms cemented Hemingway's stature as a modern American writer, became his first best-seller, and is described by biographer Michael Reynolds as "the premier American war novel from that debacle World War I."

The novel has been adapted for the stage, initially in 1930 and subsequently, for film in 1932 and 1957, and as a television miniseries in 1966. The 1996 film In Love and War, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Chris O'Donnell and Sandra Bullock, depicts Hemingway's life in Italy as an ambulance driver in the events prior to his writing of A Farewell to Arms.

Plot summary

The novel is divided into five books. In the first book, Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian Army is introduced to Catherine Barkley, an English nurse, by his good friend and fellow paramedic Rinaldi. Frederic attempts to seduce her, and their relationship begins. Frederic didn't want a serious relationship, but his feelings for Catherine slowly started to grow. On the Italian front, Frederic is wounded in the knee by a mortar and sent to a hospital in Milan, where Catherine is also sent. The second book shows the growth of Frederic and Catherine's relationship as they spend time together in Milan over the summer. Frederic and Catherine fall in love as Frederic slowly healed. After his knee healed, he is diagnosed with jaundice but is soon kicked out of the hospital and sent back to the front after being discovered with alcohol. By the time he is sent back, Catherine is three months pregnant. In the third book, Frederic returns to his unit, and soon discovers morale had severely dropped. Not long afterwards the Austrians break through the Italian lines in the Battle of Caporetto, and the Italians retreat. Due to a slow and hectic retreat, Frederic and his men go off trail and quickly get lost, a frustrated Frederic kills a sergeant for insubordination. After catching up to the main retreat, Frederic is taken to a place by the "battle police," where officers are being interrogated and executed for the "treachery" that supposedly led to the Italian defeat. However, after seeing and hearing that everyone interrogated has been killed, Frederic escapes by jumping into a river and soon heads to Milan to find Catherine only to discover that she was sent to Stresa. In the fourth book, Catherine and Frederic reunite and spend some time in Stresa before Frederic learns he will soon be arrested, he and Catherine then flee to Switzerland in a rowboat. After interrogation by Swiss authorities, they are allowed to stay in Switzerland. In the final book, Frederic and Catherine live a quiet life in the mountains until she goes into labor. After a long and painful birth, their son is stillborn. Catherine begins to hemorrhage and soon dies, leaving Frederic to return to their hotel in the rain.


In early editions, the words "shit," "fuck," and "cocksucker" were replaced with dashes. There are at least two copies of the first edition in which Hemingway re-inserted the censored text by hand, so as to provide a corrected text. One of these copies was presented to Maurice Coindreau; the other, to James Joyce. Hemingway's corrected text has not been incorporated into modern published editions of the novel; however, there are some audiobook versions that are uncensored.

Also, the novel could not be published in Italy until 1948 because the Fascist regime considered it detrimental to the honor of the Armed Forces, both in its description of the Battle of Caporetto, and for a certain anti-militarism implied in the work. The Italian translation had in fact already been written illegally in 1943 by Fernanda Pivano, leading to her arrest in Turin.

Background and publication history
The novel was based on Hemingway's own experiences serving in the Italian campaigns during the First World War. The inspiration for Catherine Barkley was Agnes von Kurowsky, a real nurse who cared for Hemingway in a hospital in Milan after he had been wounded. He had planned to marry her but she spurned his love when he returned to America. Kitty Cannell, a Paris-based fashion correspondent, became Helen Ferguson. The unnamed priest was based on Don Giuseppe Bianchi, the priest of the 69th and 70th regiments of the Brigata Ancona. Although the sources for Rinaldi are unknown, the character had already appeared in In Our Time.

Biographer Reynolds, however, writes that Hemingway was not involved in the battles described. Because his previous novel, The Sun Also Rises, had been written as a roman à clef, readers assumed A Farewell to Arms to be autobiographical.

Some pieces of the novel were written in Piggott, Arkansas, at the home of his then wife Pauline Pfeiffer, and in Mission Hills, Kansas while she was awaiting delivery of their baby. Pauline underwent a caesarean section as Hemingway was writing the scene about Catherine Barkley's childbirth.

The novel was first serialized in Scribner's Magazine in the May 1929 to October 1929 issues. The book was published in September 1929 with a first edition print-run of approximately 31,000 copies. The success of A Farewell to Arms made Hemingway financially independent.

The Hemingway Library Edition was released in July 2012, with a dust jacket facsimile of the first edition. The newly published edition presents an appendix with the many alternate endings Hemingway wrote for the novel in addition to pieces from early draft manuscripts.

The JFK Library Hemingway collection has two handwritten pages with possible titles for the book. Most of the titles come from the Oxford Book of English Verse. One of the possible titles Hemingway considered was In Another Country and Besides. This comes from The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe. The poem Portrait of a Lady by T.S. Eliot also starts off by quoting this Marlowe work: "Thou hast committed Fornication: but that was in another country, And besides, the wench is dead." Hemingway's library included both works by Eliot and Marlowe.

Critical reception

Gore Vidal wrote of the text: "... a work of ambition, in which can be seen the beginning of the careful, artful, immaculate idiocy of tone that since has marked ... [Hemingway's] prose." The last line of the 1929 New York Times review reads: "It is a moving and beautiful book."

The 1957 Film

Directed by: Charles Vidor - John Huston (uncredited)

Writing Credits: Ben Hecht (screenplay) - Ernest Hemingway (novel) - Laurence Stallings (play)

CAST (in credits order) verified as complete:

Rock Hudson - Lt. Frederick Henry

Jennifer Jones - Catherine Barkley

Vittorio De Sica - Major Alessandro Rinaldi

Oskar Homolka - Dr. Emerich

Mercedes McCambridge - Miss Van Campen

Elaine Stritch - Helen Ferguson

Kurt Kasznar - Bonello

Victor Francen - Colonel Valentini

Franco Interlenghi - Aymo

Leopoldo Trieste - Passini

José Nieto - Major Stampi

Georges Bréhat - Captain Bassi

Johanna Hofer - Mrs. Zimmerman

Eduard Linkers - Lieutenant Zimmerman

Eva Kotthaus - Delivery Room Nurse

Alberto Sordi - Father Galli

Rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Luigi Barzini - Court Martial Colonel (uncredited)

Memmo Carotenuto - Nino the Doorkeeper (uncredited)

Patrick Crean - Medical Lieutenant (uncredited)

Albert D'Amario - Arrested Officer (uncredited)

Angelo Galassi - Firing Squad Commander (uncredited)

Stephen Garret - Captain Defender (uncredited)

Guidarino Guidi - Civilian Doctor (uncredited)

Carlo Hinterman - Café's Customer (uncredited)

Peter Illing - Milan Hotel Clerk (uncredited)

Vittorio Jannitti - Hotel Proprietor (uncredited)

Diana King - Hospital Receptionist (uncredited)

Antonio La Raina - Delivery Room Anaesthetist (uncredited)

Sam Levene - Swiss Sergeant (uncredited)

Carlo Licari - Racetrack Announcer (uncredited)

Franco Mancinelli - Captain at Outpost (uncredited)

Guido Martufi - Boy Scout (uncredited)

Clelia Matania - Hairdresser (uncredited)

Gisella Mathews - Nurse in Catherine's Room (uncredited)

Peter Meersman - Major Accuser (uncredited)

Tiberio Mitri - Café's Other Customer (uncredited)

Alex Revidis - Carabiniere Officer (uncredited)

Giacomo Rossi Stuart - Carabiniere (uncredited)

Umberto Sacripante - Ambulance Driver (uncredited)

Joan Shawlee - Blonde Nurse (uncredited)

Umberto Spadaro - Barber (uncredited)

Bud Spencer - Carabiniere (uncredited)

The 1932 Film

A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 American Pre-Code romance drama film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, and Adolphe Menjou.

Based on the 1929 semi-autobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, with a screenplay by Oliver H.P. Garrett and Benjamin Glazer.

The film is about a romantic love affair between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse in Italy during World War I.

The film received Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Sound, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Art Direction.

In 1960, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the failure of United Artists, to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.

The original Broadway play starred Glenn Anders and Elissa Landi.


On the Italian front during World War I, Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper), an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army,

delivers some wounded soldiers to a hospital.

There he meets his friend, Italian Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou), a doctor.

They go out carousing, but are interrupted by a bombing raid.

Frederic and English Red Cross nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes) take shelter in the same place.

The somewhat drunk Frederic makes a poor first impression.

Rinaldi persuades Frederic to go on a double romantic date with him and two nurses, Catherine and her friend Helen Ferguson (Mary Philips).

However, Rinaldi becomes annoyed when Frederic prefers Catherine, the woman the major had chosen for himself.

Away by themselves, Frederic learns that she was engaged to a soldier who was killed in battle.

In the darkness, he romantically seduces her, over her half-hearted resistance, and is surprised to discover she is a virgin.

Their romantic relationship (forbidden by army regulation) is discovered.

At Rinaldi's suggestion, Catherine is transferred to Milan.

When Frederick is wounded by artillery, he finds himself in the hospital where Catherine now works.

They continue their affair until he is sent back to the war.

Now pregnant, Catherine runs away to Switzerland, but her many letters to her beloved sweetheart/lover are intercepted by Rinaldi,

who feels he needs to rescue his friend from the romantic entanglement.

Meanwhile, Frederic's letters to her are sent to the hospital which she has abandoned.

After a time, Frederic cannot stand being away from Catherine any longer.

He deserts his post and heads out in search of her.

Returning first to the hospital in Milan, he attempts to convince the reluctant Ferguson to reveal Catherine's whereabouts to him.

Displaying animosity toward Frederic, all she reveals finally is that Catherine has left and is pregnant with Frederic's child.

Rinaldi visits him at the hotel where he is hiding, and, upon hearing of Catherine's pregnancy,

out of remorse for having interfered with their correspondence, tells Frederic where she is living.

He rows across a lake to her.

Meanwhile, Catherine is delighted when she is told she has finally received some mail,

but faints when she is given all of her romantic love letters, marked "Return to Sender".

She is taken to the hospital, where her child is delivered stillborn.

She herself is in grave danger.

Frederic arrives, and just as an armistice between Italy and Austria-Hungary is announced, Catherine tragically dies, with him at her side.


Helen Hayes as Catherine Barkley

Gary Cooper as Lieutenant Frederic Henry

Adolphe Menjou as Major Rinaldi

Mary Philips as Helen Ferguson

Jack La Rue as Priest

Blanche Friderici as Head Nurse

Mary Forbes as Miss Van Campen

Gilbert Emery as British Major

Critical reception

In his review in The New York Times, Mordaunt Hall wrote, "There is too much sentiment and not enough strength in the pictorial conception of Ernest Hemingway's novel ... the film account skips too quickly from one episode to another and the hardships and other experiences of Lieutenant Henry are passed over too abruptly, being suggested rather than told ... Gary Cooper gives an earnest and splendid portrayal [and] Helen Hayes is admirable as Catherine ... another clever characterization is contributed by Adolphe Menjou ... it is unfortunate that these three players, serving the picture so well, do not have the opportunity to figure in more really dramatic interludes."

Dan Callahan of Slant Magazine notes, "Hemingway ... was grandly contemptuous of Frank Borzage's version of A Farewell to Arms ... but time has been kind to the film. It launders out the writer's ... pessimism and replaces it with a testament to the eternal love between a couple."

Time Out London calls it "not only the best film version of a Hemingway novel, but also one of the most thrilling visions of the power of sexual love that even Borzage ever made ... no other director created images like these, using light and movement like brushstrokes, integrating naturalism and a daring expressionism in the same shot. This is romantic melodrama raised to its highest degree." (ibid: the background music helped alot also.)

Awards and nominations

This film won two Academy Awards and was nominated for another two:

Academy Award for Best Picture (nominee)

Academy Award for Best Art Direction (nominee)

Academy Award for Best Cinematography (winner)

Academy Award for Sound - Franklin Hansen (winner)

References [1932]
1. Mellow (1992), 378
2. Reynolds (2000), 31
3. Hemingway, Ernest. "A Farewell to Arms" (New York: Scribner, 1929). James Joyce Collection, the Poetry Collection (State University of New York at Buffalo), item J69.23.8 TC141 H45 F37 1929
4. More than one biographer suggests that at the base of the censorship of the Fascist regime in the novel there had also been a personal antipathy between the writer and Benito Mussolini. Hemingway was interviewed in 1922, and in his article in the Toronto Star he said of the future Duce that he was "the biggest bluff in Europe's history." But apart from the official reactions, it is known that Mussolini did not like the article at all. (Fernanda Pivano, Hemingway, Rusconi, Milan 1985) (ISBN 8818701657, 9788818701654)
5. Villard, Henry Serrano & Nagel, James. "Hemingway in Love and War: The Lost Diary of Agnes von Kurowsky: Her letters, and Correspondence of Ernest Hemingway" (ISBN 1-55553-057-5 H/B/ISBN 0-340-68898-X P/B)
6. "Hemingway-Pfeiffer Home Page". Arkansas State University. Archived from the original on 16 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
7. "A Writer's Haunts: Where He Worked and Where He Lived"
8. Meyers (1985), 216–217
9. Oliver (1999), 91
10. Meyers, Jeffrey. "Hemingway: A Biography". Da Capo Press, 1999, p. 219.
11. Boseman, Julie. (July 4, 2012)."To Use and Use Not". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2012
12. Hemingway, Ernest (1929). Hemingway, Seán, ed."A Farewell to Arms" (The Special ed.). London: William Heinemann. p. XIX. ISBN 9780434022489.
13. Brasch, James D.; Sigman, Joseph (1981). Hemingway's Library: A Composite Record (PDF) (Electronic Edition John F. Kennedy Library, 2000 ed.). New York and London: Garland Pub. ISBN 0-8240-9499-9. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
16. Young, Stark (1994). "A Farewell to Dramatization". Critical essays on Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms". New York: Hall [u.a.] pp. 91–95. ISBN 0-7838-0011-8. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
17. "A Farewell to Arms". imitating the dog. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
18. "A Farewell to Arms". The Dukes. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
19. "The Star Gate (A Space Odessy)": a Stanley Kubrick production – 2001 Italia – il blog italiano dedicato al capolavoro di Stanley Kubrick
20. Brody, Richard (November 20, 2012). "The Book on 'Silver Lining's Playbook'". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
References [1932]
2. "A Farewell to Arms" (1932). The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
3. Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal 19 (2): 125–43. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313.
4. "A Farewell to Arms", as produced on Broadway at the National Theatre, September 22 1930 to October 1930, 24 performances;
5. Unlike most pre-1950 Paramount sound features, "A Farewell to Arms" was not sold to what is now known as Universal Television. Warner Bros. acquired the rights at an unknown date with the intention to remake the film, but never did. The film would end up in the package of films sold to Associated Artists Productions in 1956, that company would be sold to United Artists two years later.
6. Hall, Mordaunt (December 9, 1932). "Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou in a Film of Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms."". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
7. Callahan, Dan. Slant Magazine "A Farewell to Arms" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved November 15, 2011.
8. Borzage, Frank. TimeOut "A Farewell to Arms"" (1932) Check |url= value (help). Retrieved November 5, 2011.
9. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences "The 6th Academy Awards (1934) Nominees and Winners" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved November 15, 2011.

Under Section 107 of The Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

above notes from (book)
poster image: same
movie: DAV FL 70 Webmaster private collection

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