Reading A Moveable Feast was a strange combination of pure pleasure and pure torture for me On one hand, what could be better than reading a pseudo memoir written by the unabashedly self absorbed, and yet enduringly charming, Hemingway all white wine, manliness, and burgeoning craft, with an excess of anecdotes and remembrances often unflattering and unfair, god bless him of his eccentric and luminous contemporaries Not much Especially with such memories of Gertrude Aldous Huxley writes like a dead man Stein, of Wyndham Eyes of an Unsuccessful Rapist Lewis, of confirming for Scott Fitzgerald that his endowment was of a sufficient dimension to please any decent woman compared, when it was, with statues at the Louve Everything is romantic unheated Parisian cafes, living on money borrowed from the woman who owns the bookstore library, having dinner with fire eaters, skiing up into the tip top of the Alps to learn about avalanches in the winter, losing 6 months savings on the ponies, boxing with Ezra Pound, donating money to fund T.S Elliot s departure from his humdrum bank job Eating and drinking Not eating and drinking But especially, Working That up with the sun to work on my craft self imposed grindstone that one sweats over as one might laying bricks and mortar all day For from the way Hemingway describes it, writing working is hard, physical manly labor It taxes you and it costs you and it takes a whole morning to get a paragraph written, but all the better Like a good climb up a tall mountain, your exhaustion only proves that you ve done something real and worthwhile Which is a sentiment that can make any writer in training feel grand and important This isn t art or creativity or any pansy self expression This Is Work.And yetHemingway tells us of a time when one could travel through Europe on a seasonal basis, drink bottles of wine by the liter, eat out in cafes all the time, and still be considered poor When you could make a living selling magazine stories and the odd piece of journalism When these combined payments were not only enough to fund an apartment for you and your wife and son, but also for a nursemaid, and for a separate hotel room in which you could work naked, if need be It s a particularly classy brand of poverty that doesn t sound impoverished at all Alas and alack But it s still fun to read about. Though often containing gorgeous prose, Hemingway s A Moveable Feast has a clear agenda The book treats Hemingway s life in Paris from 1921 to 1926 Although the book clearly is autobiographical, in the Preface, Hemingway, after explaining that several items were left out of his memoir, then suggests, rather coyly, that If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction and adds, But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact In essence, Hemingway wants it both ways the book may be regarded as either fact or fiction Although there is no reason for readers to read the work as fiction, Hemingway s suggestion serves two ends First, Hemingway introduces the idea that the book could be viewed as a novel, an idea that echoes the famous challenge he issued when he wrote The Green Hills of Africa where he ponders whether a work of nonfiction, if written truly enough, could compete with a work of the imagination Aligning the work with fiction promotes its artistry in addition, Hemingway s Preface serves to justify his carefully reconstructed version of his early life.However, Hemingway s book does not seem like fiction because of what he leaves out, but rather for what he puts in And, what Hemingway adds is gossip Rather than the often vain, self centered, and troubled person that Hemingway was, he presents a smoothed over, patient, loyal, and often loving version of himself His first wife, Hadley, whom Hemingway unceremoniously dumped for Pauline Pfeiffer, is promoted to near sainthood Ford Madox Ford is presented as hygienically challenged and a fool, Ezra Pound is a saint, and Ernest Walsh is a posturing liar Yet, Hemingway presents his gossip artfully, even reluctantly At one point, in reference to rumors about a writing award in which Ernest Walsh was involved, Hemingway disassociates himself from gossip and even attempts to admonish the reader If the news about the writing award was passed around by gossip or rumor, or if it was a matter of personal confidence, cannot be said Let us hope and believe always that it was completely honorable in every way 125.Despite Hemingway s stated qualms about avoiding gossip and upholding honor, he shows no restraint in his portraits of Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald Stein is introduced early in the memoir, and then destroyed completely in a later chapter entitled, A Strange Enough Ending Tellingly, Hemingway begins the chapter by observing, There is not much future in men being friends with great women and there is usually even less future with truly ambitious women writers 117 Significantly, Hemingway diminishes Stein s writing ability by relegating her to a general group of ambitious women writers Hemingway recounts visiting Stein s house as he waits for her, he overhears an intimate conversation Hemingway writes, I heard someone speaking to Miss Stein as I had never heard one person speak to another never, anywhere, ever Then Miss Stein s voice came pleading and begging, saying, Don t, pussy Don t Don t, please don t I ll do anything, pussy, but please don t do it Please don t Please don t, pussy 118 Hemingway takes pains to describe how he quietly exits and asks the maidservant to say she had met him in the courtyard, and that he had never entered the house Nevertheless, Hemingway s willingness to write the incident and include a private conversation belies the gentlemanly behavior he tries to portray The intimate conversation Hemingway provides word for word is designed to make Stein look foolish and weak Hemingway uses gossip to assert his superiority.Despite the many pages devoted to Gertrude Stein, Hemingway s portrait of F Scott Fitzgerald serves as the book s dramatic core By the time Hemingway meets Fitzgerald, he has already published This Side of Paradise and had just completed The Great Gatsby In contrast, Hemingway has not yet been able to write a novel and worries whether he can When he reads The Great Gatsby, its genius stuns him Hemingway s artful vignette of Fitzgerald serves to cut him down to size Throughout the book, Hemingway carefully constructs his writing persona and implies that the attributes he displays discipline, diligence, and attention to craft are the qualities of a true writer In contrast, Hemingway introduces his portrait of Fitzgerald by implicitly comparing talent with craft Like Fitzgerald s physique and character, which Hemingway dissects piece by piece, Fitzgerald s writing ability is portrayed as weak and suspect Fitzgerald, Hemingway implies, has not earned his ability to write even worse, Fitzgerald only recognizes his talent after it is gone Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly anybecause the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless Hemingway implies that Fitzgerald s writing was not an intellectual, crafted ability, buta matter of luck Fitzgerald was given a portion of talent, but he had not worked for it, and it contrasts with the sturdy and true writing that emerges from craft.Not content with rendering Fitzgerald s writing ability suspect, Hemingway continues to dissect Fitzgerald, taking direct aim at his manhood Like a good gossip, Hemingway provides salacious details However, Hemingway packages his gossip carefully Hemingway writes, artfully Scott was a man then who looked like a boy with a face between handsome and pretty He had very fair wavy hair, a high forehead, excited and friendly eyes and a delicate long lipped Irish mouth that, on a girl, would have the mouth of a beauty The mouth worried you until you knew him and then it worried youIn the following chapter, A Matter of Measurements, Hemingway assuages the insecurity Fitzgerald feels because of a comment Zelda has made by taking Fitzgerald into the men s room, inspecting him, and pronouncing the size of his penis normal The content could hardly beintimate and sensational Hemingway performs verbal surgery throughout A Moveable Feast, and despite the book s artistry, Hemingway spares almost no one his scathing memoir. Begun In The Autumn OfAnd Published Posthumously In , Ernest Hemingway S A Moveable Feast Captures What It Meant To Be Young And Poor And Writing In Paris During The S A Correspondent For The Toronto Star, Hemingway Arrived In Paris In , Three Years After The Trauma Of The Great War And At The Beginning Of The Transformation Of Europe S Cultural Landscape Braque And Picasso Were Experimenting With Cubist Form James Joyce, Long Living In Self Imposed Exile From His Native Dublin, Had Just Completed UlyssesGertrude Stein Held Court AtRue De Fleurus, And Deemed Young Ernest A Member Of Une Gneration Perdueand TS Eliot Was A Bank Clerk In London It Was During These Years That The As Of Yet Unpublished Young Writer Gathered The Material For His First Novel The Sun Also Rises, And The Subsequent Masterpieces That FollowedAmong These Small, Reflective Sketches Are Unforgettable Encounters With The Members Of Hemingway S Slightly Rag Tag Circle Of Artists And Writers, Some Also Fated To Achieve Fame And Glory, Others To Fall Into Obscurity Here, Too, Is An Evocation Of The Paris That Hemingway Knew As A Young Man A Map Drawn In His Distinct Prose Of The Streets And Cafes And Bookshops That Comprised The City In Which He, As A Young Writer, Sometimes Struggling Against The Cold And Hunger Of Near Poverty, Honed The Skills Of His Craft A Moveable Feast Is At Once An Elegy To The Remarkable Group For Expatriates That Gathered In Paris During The Twenties And A Testament To The Risks And Rewards Of The Writerly Life Loved it Like Hemingway, I love Paris from the bottom of my heart And like him, I was lucky enough to spend some time there as a 22 year old university student I remember the feeling when I got off the train, knowing I had months of P A R I S ahead, and how precious each minute felt I remember walking the streets, stopping to gaze into shop windows, to have coffee, or to browse bookstores And I remember reading all those wonderful authors who had made Paris their home, feeling connected to them by the location I had chosen for myself Among them Hemingway If Paris became my moveable feast, something I carry with me to this day, Hemingway became the voice to express that strange kind of love story that exists between human beings and cities Long after my magical summer in Paris, while I still lived in the heart of Europe, I used to go to Paris at least twice a year, to the spring and the autumn exhibitions in the Grand Palais I loved the autumn onethan the one in the spring, and there is absolutely nothing comparable to a rainy October day in Paris You expected to be sad in the fall Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason The sadness Hemingway mentions is one of sweetest feelings I know it encompasses the essence of Paris, its strange melancholy beauty It has been two years since I last took my children to the city, and in the growing October darkness, I can feel the longing, the need, the desire to go soon I want to take the moveable feast of my memory back to its origin again and Hemingway will be in my hand luggage I don t quite know why it s taken me so long to get around to reading Hemingway, but that s two brilliant works now in a matter of weeks, after too many years of leaving him distant at the back of my mind And if I m honest, I never thought of him as a writer I would even like How wrong was I Hemingway wrote this when he was a successful older writer, about the experience of being a young man who was not yet successful, but who was happily writing away and dearly in love with his first wife Hadley It s all very personal, but in the most generous and rewarding way, and when reading it I never felt like I was observing a person of self indulgence.As a posthumously published memoir although it kind of reads like a novel Hemingway describes the time he spent in Paris after the first world war, and the title A Moveable Feast feels most appropriate, as it s like moving around in circles during a banquet with a host of bohemian luminaries Joyce, Pound, Madox Ford, and Scott Fitzgerald were all there living it up there Fitzgerald features strongly in the book s last third Not only does Hemingway depict himself surrounded by literary mentors and competitors, some he thinks highly of, some he doesn t, he is careful to record his gastronomic experiences Food, visual art, alcohol plenty of that and racing provide the backbone of this unassuming memoir Oh, and he was clearly a big fan of Ivan Turgenev, reading him often His writing style here has exactly the same feel as his fiction casual and affectionate, always engaging and easy to read, it s deceptive simplicity works a treat There are lessons in his actual language, which is wonderful, and there are lessons also in the insight into his writer s brain, and the understanding of the fragility of the balance between being able to do it, and not being able to do it He is writing about the joy of getting it right, with all the unspoken knowledge of the sadness of getting it wrong, both in writing and in life.Hemingway s recollections are at times almost gossipy and he does spring up some surprising sentences, but you never feel too overwhelmed by the high concentration of egos gathered together, sometimes on the same page We discover that Gertrude Stein was a frequent visitor to the young writer, that he did not get on so well with Ford Madox Ford, and that Ezra Pound always admired the work of his friends The edition I read was punctuated with photographs, both of the manuscript and of the author and his contemporaries in Paris, including James Joyce and an alcohol infused F Scott Fitzgerald And by the time we get to Zelda later on, it s quite clear that she also likes the odd drink Actually when wasn t she drinking Each chapter is short and vignette like, comical, sometimes bitchy but always warming Although I loved the book as a whole, it s especially the last third when in the company of Scott Fitzgerald, and Zelda who could have been nearing a nervous breakdown that really pushed me to give this the five star treatment Considering By 1956 Hemingway was in a terrible state, both mentally and physically he was a wreck, but could still craft writing that is eternal A Moveable Feast should be seen as the product of a man in terminal decline as much as the triumphant recollection of one beginning to realise his true powers Except, it doesn t read like that at all One of the most impressive things about A Moveable Feast is how sure he is, how hopeful it all seems, and how much fun it all is.Even at the end, Hemingway could still do it. How have I not read this before Absolute perfection from beginning to end Budding artists will eagerly highlight the numerous sentences on craft and style Literature lovers will moan when Hemingway casually describes hanging out with F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and a long list of other giants who happened to all be writing in Paris at the same time If you re both a writer and a reader, this book is a must for sure The scenes are deliciously candid In one segment F Scott Fitzgerald shares concerns with Hemingway over the size of his pecker In another, Hemingway laments the agony of spending hours to write one good paragraph.I m honestly not much of a Hemingway scholar, but I feel this book should be ranked higher in the canon It was only by accident that I picked it up I d never even heard of it before Maybe some feel its excellence is based primarily on the fact that the entire cast consists of legendary literary figures Maybe that is part of it But there s no question that the delivery is superb.Hemingway writes with humble grace so it doesn t feel like we re reading about the world s great writers, but regular people pursuing their dream Which, in the 1920s, they still were We get to learn his thoughts on writing, war, friendships, love and loss Even if much is dramatized, which Hemingway admits it is, there can never be another memoir like it I think I found my new answer to the old Where would you go in a time machine question.PS the restored edition is the only way to go Avoid all other editions. Whenever a friend Roman lover countryman debtor student jackass bar brawler tells me that Hemingway lost it after THE SUN ALSO RISES or being generous A FAREWELL TO ARMS, I say read this book There are moments of vile approbation It saddens me infinitely to hear EH bang on Gertrude and Scott, and some of the dialogue is transparently punchdrunk But when I want to read a book by someone who lost his shit and knew he lost it spectularly, this be the one There are few passagesself recriminating in lit than the moment at the end of this one in which EH, lameting his affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, says that he would rather have died than love anyone else than his first wife, Hadley This is Hemingway kicking his own ass, and thus, a lesson to us all. In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway presents vivid and interesting observations on his days struggling to make it in post WWI Paris Interacting with other writers described by Gertrude Stein as being members of the lost generation, A Moveable Feast shows a young Hemingway defining himself as a different kind of writer The connections to The Sun Also Rises are readily apparent However, Hemingway s thoughts about art and his writing are relevant to all his novels and short stories This is another of my recent Hemingway rereads It was a memoir I ve always enjoyed and this time was no exception. If you haven t been to Paris, you just won t get A Moveable Feast If you aren t already a fan of Hemingway, don t bother reading A Moveable Feast Look, I m struggling to get a start on this review and those were the first two statements that popped into my head I don t know if they are true I don t know if they are fair What I do know is this work fiction, memoir, sketches, a polished diary whichever of these it may be wouldn t exist without Paris Obviously, right No, that s not what I mean I mean Paris is to writers as Burgundy is to Pinot Noir It s all about terroir that sense of place, climate, geography, culture that shape the flavor and texture of a thing You can make great wine out of pinot grown in Oregon, New Zealand, Chile but it will never, ever approximate the glory of Burgundy Writers can write with greatness anywhere in the world, but a writer in Paris and goodness, a writer in the vintage years of the early mid 1920 s is a singularly blessed creature who may pour forth with words that change the world Hyperbole Ah, well, I guess you ve never been to Paris I bought a cheap, paperback copy of A Moveable Feast at Shakespeare and Company last winter I d spent the day retracing the steps of the Lost Generation through the 5eme and 6eme Arrondissements the Luxembourg Gardens, Saint Germain des Pr s, Rue Mouffetard, Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, La Place Contrescarpe, Rue Descartes, Quai des Grands Augustins the haunts of Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Ford as they drank and smoked and wrote their way between the wars Other than the now phony tourist traps of Les Deux Magots and Caf de Flore and the relocated Shakespeare and Company bookshop opened in its current location at 37 rue de la B cherie in 1951 after the original shop was closed in 1941 during the Occupation of Paris , much is as I imagined it was in 1924 The light shines golden and bittersweet in the narrow streets, landlocked Parisians flock to chaises longues in the Luxembourg Gardens to soak up an unseasonably warm February sun, students at the Sorbonne crowd the coffee shops in between classes, smoking, flirting and speaking in a rapid fire Parisian slang that I was hopeless to comprehend My paperback copy of A Moveable Feast is now dreadfully dog eared I have marked passage upon passage in which Hemingway talks about writing he was so disciplined and therefore so productive which weakened my kneesI would stand and look out over the rooftops of Paris and think, Do not worry You have always written before and you will write now All you have to do is write one true sentence Write the truest sentence, and go on from there or about ParisYou expected to be sad in the fall Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light But you knew there would always be spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozenor about wineIn Europe then we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well being and delight Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary This is a collection of sketches of a writer as he remembers his happiest, purest days spent healing from the injuries and horrors of World War I, in love with a devoted wife and a round, sweet baby, being discovered by artists of influence and nurturing others through their own addictions and afflictions Of course we know that Hemingway s own story does not end well As he pens what will become the final paragraphs of A Moveable Feast many years later, he recognizes how fragile and temporary were those yearsBut we were not invulnerable and that was the end of the first part of Paris, and Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happyPerhaps the one true condition of enjoying this memoir is that one must be an incurable romantic An affliction I bear with pride. A Moveable Feast, Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast is a memoir by American author Ernest Hemingway about his years as a struggling young expatriate journalist and writer in Paris in the 1920s The book, first published in 1964, describes the author s apprenticeship as a young writer while he was married to his first wife, Hadley Richardson 2005 1383 345 11 17 1369 1899 1961 20 1975.
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid 1920s and the mid 1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 He published seven novels, six short story collec
- 206 pages
- A Moveable Feast
- Ernest Hemingway
- 22 April 2019 Ernest Hemingway