The novel is a powerful expose of the life and values of the Lost Generation, wounded by the horrors of World War 1. Different critics have suggested that Hemingway, himself being one of the Generation, has given a semi-autobiographical account of his life in Paris and Spain through this work. The novel has a heavy undercurrent of suppressed emotions and buried values. It depicts through the shell-shocked and aimless expatriates, the story of humanity losing the broad optimism in itself as a consequence of the war, and instead taking refuge in the narrow dungeons of everyday survival, to find a purpose for existence. Nevertheless, there is an almost jarring silence on the war itself, which is rarely spoken about by the characters, but whose scars are evident with every scene.
It was voted as among the top 100 fictional books (#45) of the 20th Century by the editorial board of the Modern Library