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Spanish Civil War & A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms told the story of an American professor who sympathized with the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and who entered the battle as an antifascist. Hemingway was a realist in the way he developed his fiction and a strong stylist whose use of language was distinctive, though very difficult to imitate. However, the naturalism that usually infused his work was mitigated in this novel by the overall romantic idealism that permeated the work and the actions of its protagonist. The Spanish Civil War was a touchstone in Hemingway's life, and he himself entered that war much as does his character, Robert Jordan. Hemingway had a particular view of himself which helps shape his fiction and his philosophy, and though he could not always live up to the image he created, he explored that image in his works. The novel was published at a time when the United States was debating whether to enter World War II, and critics debated the merits of this novel in the same light, some finding evidence that Hemingway was critical of Republicanism because he included details of atrocities they had committed, and some seeing his work as clearly antifascist. The title alone shows the work to be a call to arms, suggesting that the United States could not ignore what was happening in Europe and had to enter the fray on the right side. The naturalism of the novel is found in the setting and the elemental passions of the characters, and over this is developed a philosophical idealism allowing the individual to transcend the group even as Hemingway suggests that the individual owes a debt to society.


Hemingway grew up in Michigan, in a family that placed an emphasis on outdoor activities. As a boy, he was strong and strong-willed, with physical capabilities that would be a source of pride until the latter days of his life (Hardy and Cull 10-11). His father wanted him t...

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Spanish Civil War & A Farewell to Arms. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:54, June 24, 2019, from