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For Whom The Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingway was a writer who took many of his personal experiences and used them as inspiration for his novels. In 1918, he was a volunteer ambulance driver for the Red Cross, serving in Italy. He was soon injured and hospitalized, subsequently becoming involved with a nurse. This provided the basis for his famous novel, A Farewell To Arms, published 1929. After World War I, Hemingway lived in Paris, where he socialized and worked with other disillusioned American artists and writers (known as the Lost Generation). Hemingway became interested in Spain, writing The Sun Also Rises about Americans in postwar France and Spain. This brings us to For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the Civil War that was happening there. And so comes the story of Robert Jordan, an American working with Spanish guerrilla fighters. The story begins as Jordan is assigned the task of blowing up a Fascist-controlled bridge. I will not go into the plot any further for fear of spoiling it, but it does keep the reader very invested in the story. The phrase for whom the bell tolls is from 17th century British poet John Donne. The epigraph to Hemingway's novel reads
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.
In Donne's essay, he writes about a man hearing a funeral bell and asking who has died. In this excerpt, it shows Donne answering the question by saying each death affects of all. Every funeral bell "tolls for thee." Therefore, the fact that Hemingway chose this as the title of his novel is poignant in multiple ways; it highlights the importance of community (why Jordan is fighting in a foreign war that doesn't impact him), it shows how the brutality and killing during the war impacts those who witness it (or partake in it), and it reflects Hemingway's political stance (Robert Jordan states he is anti-Fascist, not pro-Communist). Overall, this is a fantastic novel that you should read if you have the chance. Rating: ★★★★★

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