Get a free audiobook

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Written by: Ernest Hemingway
Narrated by: Campbell Scott
Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

In 1937, Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from "the good fight", For Whom the Bell Tolls.

The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan's love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo's last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise.

"If the function of a writer is to reveal reality," Maxwell Perkins wrote Hemingway after reading the manuscript, "no one ever so completely performed it." Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author's previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time.

©1952 Ernest Hemingway (P)2006 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What the critics say

"This is the best book Ernest Hemingway has written, the fullest, the deepest, the truest. It will, I think, be one of the major novels in American literature." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    35
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    34
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I am not criticizing the story in the least. This was my first attempt at Hemingway and I gave up disappointedly after half an hour. This is the worst narration I have come across. The computer sounding voice destroyed anything this book may have had to offer.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Belief Backed-up By Action

Bundles of character development in a focused scenario, in a tight setting. The protagonist, acts on his beliefs in spite of fear and doubt and weakness... All well exploring the horror of war. Well presented by Campbell Scott in this reading.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • arye orona
  • 2014-07-27

Incorrect charges of censorship.

Any additional comments?

Having read some of the previous reviews about censorship, and the editing out of curse words in this audio version, I felt that I should add a quick note on Hemingway's use of language in this novel. To give a sort of Spanish feel to the language, he writes a good portion of his dialogue a though it were directly translated from Spanish. So, "What passes with you?" can bear some getting used to. Also, he uses "thou" and "thy" at times in place of "you" to represent the moving between formal (usted) and informal (tu) Spanish. But, the big kicker (the one that seems to be making listeners upset) is the way he handles cursing. I believe that lines like, "I obscenity in the milk of thy tiredness," and "Where the un-nameable is this vileness I am to guard" are causing people to think that the audiobook has been censored in some way. It hasn't. Although, I'm not entirely clear on why Hemingway decided edit his English curse words in this way (strangely, the ones in Spanish are left intact), they are part of his original text; I checked my paper-bound version to be sure.
So, I hope you don't let reviews warning of censorship (or my technical review here) scare you away from a truly wonderful, thought provoking novel. You should read one of the reviews discussing the horror of war, love in the face of death, excitement of battle, camaraderie of soldiers, and think about buying (or not) the audiobook in those terms.

92 of 93 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2009-01-12

The Mountains of Spain

I have long been a Hemingway fan but have not been through all his writings. If you have any doubt that Hemingway was a literary giant you need only listen to this title. Between listens I would find myself thinking about the characters. The thread of their lives, and their very souls, were exposed brilliantly. I finished the listen days ago and still find myself thinking about it. I feel like I was there, with them, in the mountains, dedicated to the cause. In a sense, I'm still there, heart pressed to the pine needles on the forest floor along side Robert Jordan. In this book, at least, Hemingway was that good. Give it a try; I think you'll like this one.

73 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David Maruska
  • 2008-11-03

Wow, what a story

I have read a number of reviews of this book and found them OK. This was one of the first books of this type that I have listened to. It turns out to my surprise, to be my favorite. I have listened may times now and I have a fairly long commute to and from work. I like the description of the people, era, story. I'm not a literary person to dissect the text. It's just a great story, Just let it unfold, it's worth the time... The narrator is great, he's not mundane or mono-tone, he does a great job on the characters.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Camrog
  • 2007-09-09

Should have read this years ago

Wow .. what an astoundingly good book. I had no idea the writing would be so accessible, and at the same time so profound. It is truly a rare thing! I’m left cursing myself for not having read Hemingway years ago. Spend a few minutes refreshing the basics of the Spanish Civil War before jumping in .. then enjoy the ride. Look forward especially to the lengthy description of the smell of death ….it’s a master class in descriptive prose.

39 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • GerryO
  • 2009-09-29

A great story read by a great voice.

Mr. Scott's narration of this classic is about the best I have heard.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jessie
  • 2014-02-11

Dont listen to the silly reviews

What did you love best about For Whom the Bell Tolls?

This book is NOT censored. It is an odd device Hemingway employs by substituting "obscenity" or "unprintable" for Spanish cuss words. Well narrated, great writing.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Benedict
  • 2006-12-12

It's a great book

I had not read Hemingway at all except for Old Man and the Sea.

What I liked about For Whom the Bell Tolls is that it communicated intensely what life was like in the Spanish Civil War. Who needs a history book? You know it won't tell the tale. The remarkable thing about Hemingway is that he describes the whole war in the book. If you wanted numbers, dates and the politics of the war, one more book, or Wikipedia, would do that for you. Otherwise, this books tells the story of partisan warfare; it puts you right there. It tells about war, the soldiers on both sides.

I am amazed at Hemingway's clarity of perception at the use of simple language to evoke scenes and character.

I love the use of languge in this book! And the reader was terrific.

Ben

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tammy
  • 2008-10-29

My first Hemingway and I'm hooked!!

I've never read anything from Hemingway but this was fantastic. His discriptions are so specific you can hear the water running, see the snow falling and feel the warmth of the fire. You love or hate his characters because he does such a wonderful job of building their personalities. Can't wait to start my next book.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marc Roy
  • 2015-05-15

It hasn't been censored.

Any additional comments?

Other reviewers' complaints that the foul language has been censored is incorrect. Hemingway wrote it as it is read here. Unprintables, and foulnesses, and obscenities in the milk of, are all Hemingway.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joe
  • 2006-08-06

Superb!

"For Whom the Bell Tolls," is arguably, one of the best novels of American 20th Century literature. Personally, I like Hemingways "Old Man and the Sea," perhaps a little bit better, but "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is certainly a richer, broader and more in-depth story. Hemingway, of course, is up there with the great luminaries of American literature. Today, there is simply no American writer alive who comes close to him or his contemporaries. The auditory rendition of this novel is quite good and clear. A very minor point, but not enough to really detract, is that at a few points the timing on the spoken narration is slightly out of synch as the characters change. But, it's really quite minor. As for listening to this novel, it is just a superb experience. It is so nice to hear the English language used the way Hemingway does, he is like a Zen master of the English language. In-depth, detailed characters are developed but with such expertise that the character never seems to be over-shadowed by the role. Hemingway is also a rare writer who knows how to speak to men, he understands what drives them and no matter how complicated the character, the inevitable faults and humanity still shine thru. So, if you want to take a break from Podcasts, Global Warming, Spy Novels and Political Thrillers, here is your perfect chance. You will not regret it.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful