Banned Books: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Robert Jordan fell in love in the mountains of Spain. As part of the International Brigades he was sent to an antifascist guerilla unit to blow up a bridge. Maria was with the guerillas after being rescued from the fascist. The emotions were real and wholly unexpected between the two. Their days together were few and filled with mission planning, fear, scouting and a thirst to know one another. We live through their days together and learn of the plight of the guerillas and the International Brigades in their fight against the fascist.
                There is no denying that Hemingway is a great writer, who is able to add passion and beautiful details to any scene. In For Whom the Bell Tolls we see Hemingway at his best. The story of love in the middle of the battlefield isn’t completely unexpected from Hemingway but the situation provides one fraught with danger, where love is the last thing anyone was hoping to find. Death is too near in these situations. Jordan was a well-developed interesting character that was both controversial and influential in the lives of all the characters. I was willing to follow Jordan on his mission and in this new love that he found in Maria. I was not particularly drawn to other parts of the story. In all honesty, I wanted more from his relationship with Maria. I wanted the love between the two of them to happen almost as much as they did. It was a depressing version of a love story almost too full of realism in a weary situation.
                I enjoy Hemingway’s novel because I enjoy his writing style. I love reading his descriptions of the scenery and the movements of everything around him. I don’t know if I am a huge fan of the subjects he chooses to describe. I can only imagine how different and yet amazing the novel would have been if it just focused on Jordan and his movements with the guerillas. As much as I enjoyed reading about Jordan and Maria’s love, I doubted the possibility of there being a happily ever after, which made me very apprehensive when it came to certain moments in the book. The U.S. Post Office decided the novel was non-mailable in the 1940’s according to the American Library Association. Turkish publishers were put on trial by the Istanbul government for spreading unfavorable propaganda in regards to For Whom the Bell Tolls. This novel does go against fascist ideal and speak very bluntly about death and murder but it was a time of war. I’m sure most people reading this novel in the mid 1900’s saw worse on the news. But banning books is all about control and seeing how far that control extends. The banning of this novel about two people in love in a time of crisis is a great example of that.


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