The bell one shouldn't ask about
Started conversation Feb 9, 2004
Congratulations Gnomon on an excellent and comprehensive entry. It is an enormous subject and you have covered it well in a concise and readable way. So please do not consider my suggestion here as anything more than an 'afterthought' that might be of interest to those who read your piece.
20th century writer Ernest Hemingway borrowed a line from John Donne to title his novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls". The popularity of Hemingway's book gave new life to Donne's oft quoted and little understood line "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."
Donne was deathly ill when he wrote the poem and was speaking of the particular funereal ringing that announces the passing of a soul. There is an interesting story behind the particular bell that Donne was listening to, it still exists, and I have tried to tell its story at: