Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

First published in 1929.

This was a book club pick in March, chosen by the adult daughter of a book club member. She's staying with her mom for a few months, and A Farewell to Arms was one of her favorite novels from her high school literature classes.

I had only just started reading the novel when we had the book club meeting, and despite my inability to really get into it, I was determined to finish. I put it on my Spring Reading Thing list so that I would be committed to do it. My sister lent me the Book on CD version she'd checked out of the library, and it helped me to listen rather than read. Yesterday, as I listened to the final paragraphs with tears in my eyes, I can truthfully say that I'm glad I finished it.

At our book club meeting, we talked about why Hemingway is considered one of America's greatest writers. We really didn't have a good answer for that - but did note that he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. (I have since noted that he also received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, which I had to read in high school and which I can't say is one of my favorite books.)

The book group also wondered what "classics" they are teaching in high school today. Most of us had read something by Hemingway when we were in high school. Other assigned reading in my high school American lit class included The Crucible, The Hairy Ape, Sister Carrie, and The Jungle. My daughter has recently read The Great Gatsby, The House on Mango Street, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in her English class. What have you or your children read?



  1. I teach a study skills class at the one high school in my town. After a brief lesson I help the kids with homework in other classes. I know they have read The Crucible and The Great Gatsby. There's an advanced English class but, of course, I don't have any of those students in my class.

  2. Hi, I've never been much of a Hemingway fan myself. It has to do with his style, too terse, I guess. And William Faulkner is way too wordy! Among the books my 15 year old has had to read (and majorly complained about) has been:

    The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

    A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (surprised me...I thought she'd like that book)

    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (I am totally shocked she doesn't like that one)

    I think kids don't like reading classics in school because they have to

    My goal is to read a classic for every 3 other books I read