Photo: Santa Teresa Gallura, Sardinia For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). There are already many scholarly reviews of this book by Hemingway, considered by some to be his best, strongly inspired by his work as a journalist during the Spanish Civil War, atmosphere of which he recreates with great conviction. I will content myself with sharing my impressions of Robert Jordan, an American university professor, joining the International Brigades, on a mission to blow up a bridge. We follow him for three days as he lives with a group of anti-fascist supporters to prepare for his offensive, falls in love with Maria and does not survive the attack. It took me a long time to finish this book, I could only read a few pages at a time, probably because of its density. I was interested in learning more about Hemingway's "iceberg" style, where one mentions only a small part of one's characters, while one must, according to Hemingway, know them thoroughly. His advice suggests that the quality of a book comes from the capacity of its author to cut long passages, which he definitely did not hesitate to do, with great success. I feel like I know Robert Jordan, Maria and the others, even if the author only introduces us to certain aspects of their lives. I did not ask myself, while reading this book, as I have often enough in my recent readings, why the editor had not suggested cutting certain passages (must one nowadays have enough pages for one's money? am I wondering). Despite what one might call, a lack of detail, I found a lot of humanity, love, suffering, pain, violence, as well as reflections on the value of life and death, deep questions that touched me a lot.
Obviously, there will surely be someone, somewhere, who will find, sooner or later, that this book is too much this or not enough that, that it does not reflect our times, because the words or the story do not suit our way of thinking, to which I would reply that therein lies the interest of the book, because it allows us to paint an era, to which we can compare ourselves to measure the progress made, the evolution (or lack of it, for that matter) of values and more. Words, stories that were written at a certain time, reflect the mentality of the time and that's it. There is nothing to add or take away, and changing a story to appeal to today's readership, as some editors have done recently, seems unacceptable to me.