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For Whom the Bell Tolls

war win jordan bridge

a novel by Ernest Hemingway, published in 1940. A novel of the Spanish Civil War, in which an American volunteer in the Loyalist forces, Robert Jordan, has been sent into the mountains near Segovia to execute the bombing of a bridge. As he waits with a guerrilla band he encounters Maria, a victim of Fascist attack and rape, and they fall passionately in love. A sense of foreboding develops as the war moves closer and the political differences within the Loyalist camp are seen to be impeding the war effort. Ordered to retreat, Jordan nevertheless blows up the bridge but is wounded in the retreat. As he lies dying on a hillside he awaits the arrival of the Fascists, determined that he will shoot their leader. His final thoughts are: ‘I have fought for what I believed in for a year now. If we win here we will win everywhere.’ The book is remarkable for its scope and descriptive powers, and for Hemingway's attempt to reproduce the speech of the guerrillas. Its title derives from John Donne's sermon which contains the lines: ‘No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peace of the Continent … And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.’

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