The title comes from the famous line by British poet John Donne: “...never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
The novel was a huge bestseller that also generated some famous lines.
For example, in Chapter 7 there’s “Where do the noses go?” That quote was made especially famous by the film adaptation of the book, in which Ingrid Bergman says it to Gary Cooper.
In Chapter 13 there’s “But did thee feel the earth move?” (Hemingway used “thee” and other antiquated terms of speech in the novel supposedly as a way of translating what was being said in Spanish.)
That line became famous enough to turn “feel the earth move” into a humorous euphemism for good sex – and gave songwriter-singer Carol King the title of her hit song “I Feel the Earth Move” (1971).
In Chapter 43 of For Whom the Bell Tolls, there’s another oft-quoted line: “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.”
It’s included in many books of quotations and one of its many admirers is Senator John McCain. He used the variation Worth the Fighting For as the title of his autobiographical book published in 2003.
Ironically, McCain’s campaign nemesis, President Barack Obama has named Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls as one of the "three books” that have inspired him.
Obama said the other “two” were Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and “the tragedies of William Shakespeare.” (Maybe he read Shakespeare's tragic plays all in one big collected volume.).The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”
Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not is set in Key West. (The movie version with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall changed that for some reason.)
His former house in Key West, now called the Hemingway Home and Museum, is a big tourist attraction that is famous for the dozens of “polydactyl” (six- and seven-toed) cats that hang out there. They’re descendants of the polydactyl cats Hemingway had there in the Thirties.
As a Keys resident, I should probably like Ernest Hemingway. But, the truth is, his style of writing never really made the earth move for me.
Plus, I’m just not macho enough to appreciate the fine arts of bullfighting, boxing, big game hunting and killing beautiful big fish – four of Hemingway’s favorite things. And, basically, from what I’ve read about him, he seems like he was a real jerk.
But I really like his polydactyl cats.
Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to October 21:
• “England expects that every man will do his duty.” - The famous almost last words of British Admiral Horatio Nelson to his men at the sea battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805. His men did their duty and defeated the French and Spanish fleet in the battle, but Nelson was killed.
• “Ruh-roh!” - Catchphrase of the dog Astro in The Jetsons cartoon series. Astro first appeared in the fourth Jetsons episode, which first aired on October 21, 1962. “Ruh-roh!” was later borrowed by another famous cartoon dog, Scooby Doo. The fact that I know this may be a telltale sign that I’m not a Hemingway kinda guy.