Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms 2

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.

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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.”