“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one’…. (The man who first said that) was probably a coward…. He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he’s intelligent. He simply doesn’t mention them.”
A Farewell to Arms is my third go at reading Hemingway and while I loved For Whom the bell Tolls and the Old Man and the Sea I found A farewell to Arms wanting. I don’t know if it was the fact that the war served as a backstory to tell the story of the American ambulance driver and a British nurse or just how improbable the dialogue between the wartime lovers is, while it is not my favorite Hemmingway novel it was an okay read so I give it three and half stars out of five.
What I enjoyed about the book is that Hemmingway does not romanticize warfare and shows it for being mundane with a few brief moments of action. I imagine he writes it that way because he lived it having served as an ambulance driver during World War I. The portrayal of cynical soldiers fighting a prolonged war for the same piece of ground provided some interesting dialogue.
Overall, I feel A Farewell to Arms should be read by fans of Hemmingway, but for those who do not feel strongly about Hemmingway I would skip this one and read some of his other work instead.