People either hate or love this novel. I loved it, I think it one of the best novels Hemmingway has ever written. “for whom the bells tolls”, however, was one of those classics that was so perfect, so profoundly moving and yet just so enjoyable to read, that I can’t comprehend the negative review. Like “Anna Karenina,” crime and punishment”, or “native son,” its one of those cornerstones of literature that utterly justified its spot in the cannon. The characters were perfectly wrought, and achingly human, with each life being so significant and yet miniscule in the face of war.
It’s true that Hemingway can’t write a real woman to save his life (Pilar is fantastic, but he writes her as a man), and Maria’s adoration of Robert get tiresome, but really that is the only false note in this novel. For everyone who complains about the stilted dialogue, the dialogue is one of the strokes of absolute genius. Yes it sounds unnatural , but that’s because Hemingway is perfectly capturing how people who don’t speak the same native language communicate – the dialogue is actually in Spanish between the American Robert and the Spanish guerrillas.