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Dusksong's Orrery

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The Story of Art
Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich
Ética a Nicómaco

For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls - "I obscenity in the milk of thy mother."'What?', I though to myself. 'Surely the .epub is corrupted! What manner of twisted syntax is this?'Robert Jordan is a former Spanish teacher from Montana traveling to Spain to meet the fascist opposition during the Civil War. As an experienced dynamiter, he finds himself fighting behind enemy lines, along with a group of guerrilleros with a single purpose in his mind - to blow up a bridge.Were it that simple.Hemingway, himself a journalist in Spain during this period, managed to create a very personal account of the hardships the common folk face with the tidings of war: when you are forced to execute people you have known all your life, people with whom you shared long summer nights, because of clashing political ideologies; when you witness your father and your son being shot in front of you, your mother and your daughter being raped and then shot - the amicable and stale temper of the Spanish boils and nothing but an unending escalation of violence lays waste to the country.The plot is interesting and most of characters are fairly well developed and captivating. However, the book lacks somewhat when it tries too hard to create an archetypical love story and just ends up with a one-dimensional female character who, though sweet and all, feels as hollow as a bucket.Nonetheless, the jewel in the crown (or downfall to some) is the prose: you either love it or you loathe it, it seems. The book reads a lot like a Spanish text distastefully translated to English and I repeatedly heard the voice inside my head talking like a Spanish before an English-speaking audience. A fine example of this would be the sentence above: it's a transliteration of the saying "Me cago en la leche __" which means something like "I don't give a crap about __" or "What the hell!" - you get the idea. Within the context of the book it's amusing and imbues it with a certain idiosyncrasy that made me giggle inside every time I read it. The slow momentum of the dialogues with innumerable repetitions mirrors well the easy-going, almost lazy way Hemingway attempts to portray the Spaniards and their lifes, but I understand why some might find it unsettling, if not unappropriate, to have war feel so mundane when you are in the middle of it.It's a book worth reading and some of the passages are truly spectacularly writen: the fascists' bane in Pilar's village in the beginning of the revolution, as recounted by her; the bullfights; Sordo's last stand.Recommended."The world is a fine place and worth fighting for."