Hemingway was truly one of those rare and most gifted of novelists who could write poetry into prose. He does so breathtakingly on pages 185 and 249. A merely adroit writer could easily spend a life time trying and failing to accomplish the same feat.

I have read that Hemingway who served in WWI primarily as an ambulance driver but only very briefly though in the actual trenches before being wounded; said that it took him ten years to digest the horrors he experienced before sitting down to write this novel.


In real life he had a love affair with an older American nurse who helped his recovery. She left him, with the words, 'but you're just a boy,' echoing in his mind. Hemingway a gentle soul born with an artistic disposition is said by some to have never fully recovered from the loss of his first love. He used the clay of his real life experiences to fashion this novel about the barbarity of war, the beauty of love and the crown of thorns that can be the loss of that love.