A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Posted October 7, 2013 in Book Review / 0 Comments

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A Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Published by Scribner on July 14th 2009
Genres: Adult fiction, Classics
Pages: 236
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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three-stars

Begun in the autumn of 1957 and published posthumously in 1964, Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast captures what it meant to be young and poor and writing in Paris during the 1920s. A correspondent for the Toronto Star, Hemingway arrived in Paris in 1921, 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 Ulysses; Gertrude Stein held court at 27 Rue de Fleurus, and deemed young Ernest a member of une gneration perdue; and T.S. 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 It was during these years that the as-of-yet unpublished young writer gathered the material for his first novel The Sun Also Rises, and the subsequent masterpieces that followed.
Among 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.

Main Points

Before Reading
The main reason I wanted to read this book was because I had recently read The Paris Wife and after seeing his first wife Hadley’s point of view, I wanted to read it from Hemingway’s own perspective.
Writing Style (repeat from The Sun also Rises)
I can see why so many people love Hemingway’s writing, but it’s really not my thing. It’s pointed, and opinionated, and short, and poignant, and directly to the point (let’s see how many times I can say words that sound like ‘point’ in that sentence). He rarely overdescribes something, and the conversations are very short and change direction quite frequently. They are rarely linear.
Content 
I liked it a bit more than The Sun Also Rises, although it was written much the same way. It contained remarkably less information about Hadley (and his opinions of her) than I expected (well, hoped for, really) and for that I was disappointed, but he covered nearly everything else well enough and even some that The Paris Wife did not, such as the lot about Fitzgerald (which does remind me I must read a biography of Zelda next, the Fitzgeralds were quite an interesting couple). It was a bit boring at times, but just Hemingway’s character alone was enough to stay interested. He was such a rough, mean sort and I can’t imagine being able to stand him.
Characters 
Well, I shan’t say much because they were real people and I already gave my opinions on them in the review of The Paris Wife. I will say that I still do not like Hemingway much, Hadley seems sweet, Gertrude seems forceful, Ezra amiable, Scott Fitzgerald strange, Zelda crazy, and the like.
Quotes
There was a section in the beginning of the book where he describes his writing process, and I noticed that what he was saying conflicted with a quote I read from him that was mentioned in The Paris Wife.
That quote is thus: “I know now that there is no one thing that is true – it is all true.” But in the book he says “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So naturally I wonder. He must have had problems with truth.

Bottom Line

This was a nice, plain sort of book. It probably would be best if you had read a biography first. But it’s a great way to see the Lost Generation in the golden age of Paris through Hemingway’s eyes. Will I be reading more by Hemingway? No, I don’t think so. Would I recommend this book to others? If they like Hemingway or are curious about the Lost Generation.

About Ernest Hemingway

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 collections and two non-fiction works. Three novels, four collections of short stories and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of these are considered classics of American literature.

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