John Griffith (Jack“) London (born John Griffith Chaney, January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. A pioneer in the then burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction, he was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone.
Some of his most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories like To Build A Fire, An Odyssey of the North and Love of Life. He also wrote of the South Pacific in such stories as The Pearls of Parlay and The Heathen, and of the San Francisco Bay area in The Sea Wolf, the latter being the first book of his that I read.
London was part of the radical literary group The Crowd in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism, and the rights of workers. He wrote several powerful works dealing with these topics, such as his dystopian novel The Iron Heel, his non-fiction exposé The People of The Abyss, and The War of the Classes.
Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on twentieth century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American Literature.
Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After high school, he worked as a reporter for a few months for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to enlist as an ambulance driver in World War One. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell To Arms in 1929. It was the first of his novels that I read. After he returned from the Spanish Civil War he wrote the second of his novels to be read by me, For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1940.
London and Hemingway are two of my literary heroes. Just occasionally a country produces writers worth reading like them, and yet these days even dead novelists of their calibre get attacked:
I imagine that the reputation of this book as a classic has others afraid to admit that it is truly terrible.
The book has a few, fleeting moments of absolute genius (El Sordo’s fight, Pablo’s first uprising, etc.), but overall the book is horribly boring and completely unrealistic, at least to any American who has perhaps never experienced early 20th century Spanish culture.
This entire book is basically a love story between main character, Robert Jordan, and Maria, set against the Spanish Civil War. What makes this so unrealistic is that the book takes place entirely over only three days, and at the beginning of the book Jordan and Maria have not yet met. So, in the course of just THREE DAYS, we are expected to believe that they go from complete strangers to in love in a way that defies comprehension. Not only is this unrealistic, but it is also SO BORING. There are literally entire chapters of just Robert Jordan and Maria telling each other how much they love each other.
This book is described as a war novel, but its only a war novel in the sense that it takes place during the war. There is very little actual war that happens in this book.
Basically, the book is boring. It was a struggle to get through, and I only finished it because my OCD forces me to finish books I have started. But I hated it.