'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is Published
This novel is told primarily through the thoughts and experiences of Robert Jordan, a character inspired by Hemingway's own experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
Robert Jordan is an American who travels to Spain to oppose the fascist forces of Francisco Franco.
A superior has ordered him to travel behind enemy lines and destroy a bridge, using the aid of a group of guerrillas who have been living in the mountains nearby. Robert Jordan encounters one of those in their camp, María, a young Spanish native whose life has been shattered by the outbreak of the war. His strong sense of duty clashes with both Republican partisan leader Pablo's fear and unwillingness to commit to a covert operation which would have repercussions, and his own joie de vivre that is kindled by his newfound love for María.
The novel graphically describes the brutality of civil war.
Hemingway had begun work on For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1939 in Cuba and worked on it on the road as he traveled back to Key West or to Wyoming or to Sun Valley, finishing it in July of 1940. The book was a huge success, both critically and commercially, prompting Sinclair Lewis to write that it was "the American book published during the three years past which was most likely to survive, to be know fifty years from now, or possibly a hundred...it might just possibly be a masterpiece, a classic..." Oddly, the book was unanimously voted the best novel of the year by the Pulitzer Prize committee, but was vetoed for political reason by the conservative president of Columbia University; no prize was awarded that year. The book sold over 500,000 copies in just six months, and continues to sell well today.