For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
”A day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day…”
How, how can someone manage to write a novel, almost 500 pages, about only three days without it getting boring? That’s far more than I could manage. Incredible.
In short: this American, Robert Jordan, is fighting in the Spanish civil war. His assignment is to blow up a certain bridge at a certain time under very hard conditions, and he goes across the enemy lines with help of local guerrilla fighters to do this. The story is about his thoughts and how he gets to know the people in the guerrilla band.
He has never been in love, yet meets this girl in the band and they fall in love. He knows: three days and I’ll die. What if you had three days? His response was to try and live his life so thoroughly, so intensely and completely, that he could live a full and meaningful life in those three days. Every minute, every second he is aware that he has one minute, one second less to live and to love his girl.
I feel that way sometimes.
War is a funny thing, far into the fuzzy regions of moral and logic. How could war be right? How could you possibly justify killing a fellow human being? The characters in the book have different ways of dealing with this. One twists things around to justify it for himself so he only sees the evil in the enemy. Another feels intensely sorry for those he kills and avoids killing at all costs, and promises to himself that he will do something very good after the war to try and make up for this (unfortunately he doesn’t live to carry this out). Robert Jordan himself is a compassionate person, and sees how everything could so easily be different, how the man he cold-bloodidly (is that a word?) kills could just as well have been fighting by his side. To keep sane he has to continually shut his eyes to this, yet I love how Hemingway lets these thoughts shine through in the inner monologue.
”Inner monologue, bla bla bla” is one way of telling about a book. Another is: I seldom find a book that makes me almost-cry.
With warmest recommendations to those of you who are human beings (and I would assume that covers a large percent). 😀