Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms 1

"I believe we should get the war over," I said. "It would not finish it if one side stopped fighting. It would only be worse if we stopped fighting.'
"It could not be worse," Passini said respectfully.
"There is nothing worse than war."
"Defeat is worse."
"I do not believe it," Passini said still respectfully.
"What is defeat? You go home."
"They come after you. They take your home. They take your sisters."
"I don't believe it," Passini said. "They can't do that to everybody. Let everybody defend his home. Let them keep their sisters in the house."
"They hang you. They come and make you be a soldier again. Not in the auto-ambulance, in the infantry."
"They can't hang every one."
"An outside nation can't make you be a soldier," Manera said. "At the first battle you all run."
"Like the Tchecos."

"I think you do not know anything about being conquered and so you think it is not bad."
"Tenente," Passini said. "We understand you let us talk. Listen. There is nothing as bad as war. We in the auto-ambulance cannot even realize at all how bad it is. When people realize how bad it is they cannot do anything to stop it because they go crazy. There are some people who never realize. There are people who are afraid of their officers. It is with them that war is made."
"I know it is bad but we must finish it."
"It doesn't finish. There is no finish to a war."
"Yes there is."
Passini shook his head.

"War is not won by victory. What if we take San Gabriele? What if we take the Carso and Monfalcone and Trieste? Where are we then? Did you see all the far mountains to-day? Do you think we could take all them too? Only if the Austrians stop fighting. One side must stop fighting. Why don't we stop fighting? If they come down into Italy they will get tired and go away. They have their own country. But no, instead there is a war."
"You're an orator.“
"We think. We read. We are not peasants. We are mechanics. But even the peasants know better than to believe in a war. Everybody hates this war."
"There is a class that controls a country that is stupid and does not realize anything and never can. That is why we have this war."
"Also they make money out of it."
"Most of them don't," said Passini. "They are too stupid. They do it for nothing. For stupidity."

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929; New York: Macmillan, 1986), 49-51.


The Italians were sure America would declare war on Austria too and they were very excited about any Americans coming down, even the Red Cross. They asked me if I thought President Wilson would declare war on Austria and I said it was only a matter of days. I did not know what we had against Austria but it seemed logical that they should declare war on her if they did on Germany. They asked me if we would declare war on Turkey. I said that was doubtful. Turkey, I said, was our national bird but the joke translated so badly and they were so puzzled and suspicious that I said yes, we would probably declare war on Turkey. And on Bulgaria? We had drunk several glasses of brandy and I said yes by God on Bulgaria too and on Japan. But, they said, Japan is an ally of England. You can't trust the bloody English. The Japanese want Hawaii, I said. Where is Hawaii ? It is in the Pacific Ocean. Why do the Japanese want it ? They don't really want it, I said. That is all talk. The Japanese are a wonderful little people fond of dancing and light wines. Like the French, said the major. We will get Nice and Savoia from the French. We will get Corsica and all the Adriatic coast-line, Rinaldi said. Italy will return to the splendors of Rome, said the major. I don't like Rome, I said. It is hot and full of fleas. You don't like Rome ? Yes, I love Rome. Rome is the mother of nations. I will never forget Romulus suckling the Tiber. What? Nothing. Let's all go to Rome. Let's go to Rome to-night and never come back. Rome is a beautiful city, said the major. The mother and father of nations, I said. Roma is feminine, said Rinaldi. It cannot be the father. Who is the father, then, the Holy Ghost? Don't blaspheme. I wasn't blaspheming, I was asking for information. You are drunk, baby. Who made me drunk? I made you drunk, said the major. I made you drunk because I love you and because America is in the war.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929; New York: Macmillan, 1986), 75-76.


"We won't talk about losing. There is enough talk about losing. What has been done this summer cannot have been done in vain." I did not say anything. I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929; New York: Macmillan, 1986), 184-185.

Ernest Hemingway: “A Farewell to Arms” (1929; New York: Macmillan, 1986), 49-51.

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Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (b. June 21, 1899 in Oak Parks, Illinois, d. July 2, 1961 in Ketchum, Idaho) volunteered as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross during World War I. After serving a couple of months at the Italian front, he was seriously wounded and spent some time in a military hospital in Milan. His war-time experiences later inspired his 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms, promoted as “the best American novel to emerge out of World War I.”