Anne (Booklady) Molinarolo's Reviews > A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
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Jan 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction, permanent-library, winter-2011-12, memoirs-biography, classics
Read from December 23, 2011 to January 03, 2012 — I own a copy

This little gem sat on my shelf for many years waiting for me to discover what Hemingway meant when he wrote, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” And he does in A MOVEABLE FEAST. Written in 1957 and worked upon in the winter of 1958-59, the Master finally finished his revisions to this memoir of his early Paris years when he and Hadley were “very poor and very happy.” Before Ernest became the legendary “Papa Hemingway.”

He teases us readers that he has left out many places, people, observations and impressions. “If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.” He clearly wanted to keep some secrets; after all it was his remembrances of his early life before scandal, divorce, THE SUN ALSO RISES. But Hemingway also wanted to clarify some things he felt were unjustly attributed to him.

Hemingway’s break from Gertrude Stein is one such thing. I believe that he saw in her a female version of himself as writer. He disapproved of her sexuality, but admired her intellect. He saw that Stein demanded from her friends an absolute support and devotion that left no room for disagreement that she interpreted as disapproval. Ernest Hemingway, even then demanded that from everyone who was close to him. It was painful to read the sketch he chose to include as he remembered the last time he was in her Parisian apartment. And I agree with Hemingway that all generations are lost until they are called to live and do the things that are required of their particular generation.

I also think he was fond of F. Scot Fitzgerald. I didn’t think the sketches of this talented genius were acidic. The description of the butterfly is apropos of Fitzgerald. He was talented and a drunkard, chained to a vile but insane Zelda. In Hemingway’s mind Scot didn’t fulfill his genius. If one is a writer, one must write. Fitzgerald couldn’t escape Zelda, and Hemingway couldn’t understand Scot’s self-destruction until probably later when he couldn’t write that true sentence after he received those shock treatments while in the Mayo Clinic weeks before Hemingway committed suicide, the ultimate act of self destruction. But I’m glad this small memoir was published in 1964 posthumously, because “Papa Hemingway” needed an audience for his writing and we get honest, yet beautiful prose that will never be replicated.

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