News Center

Hendrix English Professor Publishes New Hemingway Book

Dr. Alex Vernon’s Reading Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls to be released January 2024

Vernon_Alex_2021_edit.jpgCONWAY, Ark. (November 29, 2023) — Hendrix College English professor Dr. Alex Vernon’s latest book, Reading Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls: Glossary and Commentary, will be released January 30, 2024, by The Kent State University Press.

Vernon is the M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professor of English at Hendrix.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls is a long novel, full of historical and literary allusions, driving toward a climactic action. Readers tend to read through it apace and forget to attend closely to passages, sentences, words. I see my book as slowing our reading down to better engage with this very nuanced (and controversial) work of art,” said Vernon. “I want to bring it alive to its original contexts in a way that might bring it alive for future readers. In terms of genre, it’s a very strange novel, and I hope to reconnect readers with that strangeness.”

The new book is the latest project in a professional lifetime of Hemingway scholarship. A Hemingway scholar for over 20 years, Vernon has been an active member of the Hemingway Society leadership. He is currently involved with the ongoing, multi-volume publication of Hemingway’s complete letters and is co-editing a new edition of a Hemingway title that is the book version of a film Hemingway made in collaboration with Joris Ivens and others.

Carl Eby, president of the Hemingway Society and author of Hemingway’s Fetishism: Psychoanalysis and the Mirror of Manhood and coeditor of Hemingway’s Spain: Imagining the Spanish World, called Vernon’s book “the indispensable companion to For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

Vernon front cover Reading FWTBT.png“Beautifully researched, this volume elucidates the historical forces, figures, places, and events essential to a deep understanding of this masterpiece set against the complexities of the Spanish Civil War,” Eby said. “With vital insights into the novel’s composition, its manuscript, its major themes, and Hemingway’s craft, this book will be deeply appreciated by students and scholars alike.”

For Vernon, working on the book about Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls represents both sides of his career as a teacher and scholar.

Since he was asked to write the book in the fall of 2015, he has co-taught two sections of The Engaged Citizen, a course for new Hendrix students on the Spanish Civil War, with Hendrix Spanish professor Dr. Gabby Vidal-Torreira. The professors also took a group of students to Spain, where they walked the ground where the novel’s characters walked, fought, and died. Vernon has also taught an upper-class course on the literature and film of the war and the Hemingway seminar —both of which included this novel.

“The scholarship has made me a better teacher; teaching has made me a better scholar,” said Vernon.

About the Book

“Published in 1940, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is widely considered a masterpiece of war literature. A bestseller upon its release, the novel has long been both admired and ridiculed for its depiction of Robert Jordan’s military heroism and wartime romance. Yet its validation of seemingly conflicting narratives and its rendering of the intricate world its characters inhabit, as well as its dense historical, literary, and biographical allusions, have made it a work that remains a focus of interest and study. Alex Vernon, in this contribution to the Reading Hemingway series, mines the historical record to unprecedented depths, examining Hemingway’s drafts and correspondence, synthesizing the body of literary criticism about the novel, and engaging in close textual analysis. As a result, new and important insights into the complex situation of the Spanish Civil War―integral to the novel―emerge, enriching our understanding of the novel. Through Vernon’s comprehensive work, contemporary readers and scholars are reminded that For Whom the Bell Tolls is still vital, significant, and relevant.” The Kent State University Press

About the Author

Dr. Alex Vernon is the M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professor of English at Hendrix College, where he teaches a variety of courses in 20th Century American literature and writing. He has held multiple Odyssey Professorships, which he used to take student groups abroad to study and perform service work in Vietnam and to study the Spanish Civil War. Dr. Vernon has chaired the College’s American Studies Program, English Department, and Humanities Area. In 2020, he was awarded a 12-month research fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and he has directed a two-year NEH “Dialogues on the Experience of War” program for central Arkansas veterans and the public. Dr. Vernon is the author of nine previous books. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) in 1989 before serving as a tank lieutenant in the transitional Persian Gulf War (1990 - 1991) and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Vernon joined the Hendrix faculty in 2001.

About Hendrix College

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges and celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation, vibrant campus life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA Division III sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. Learn more at

“… Through engagement that links the classroom with the world, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living, the Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.” —Hendrix College Statement of Purpose