Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Teaching the American Twenties: Exploring the Decade through Literature and Art


After the War

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway's 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms is narrated by Frederic Henry, a young American ambulance driver for the Italian military during World War I. Henry suffers injuries much like Hemingway's, falls in love with a nurse, and eventually deserts the Italian army. Though Hemingway gives much attention to the love story, the novel also depicts wartime horrors, obstacles, and discouragement. Henry's wife and son die in childbirth, and this tragedy and the shock of war leave him broken and disillusioned. Some critics consider A Farewell to Arms to be Hemingway's protest against all wars and armed conflicts that result in large numbers of casualties.

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Back cover of <em>A Farewell to Arms</em>
Back cover of A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway

The cover of an early edition of A Farewell to Arms focuses on the tragic love story in the novel, using classical imagery to show two lovers in despair. The small canons on both sides of the title hint that the war provided the context for the...
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