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A Moveable Feast

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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 It was during these years that the as-of-yet unpublished young writer gathered the material for his first novel The Sun Also Rises, and the subsequent masterpieces that followed.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.

211 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1964

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About the author

Ernest Hemingway

1,152 books27.3k followers
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.

Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois, and after high school he reported for a few months for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to enlist with the World War I ambulance drivers. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. In 1922, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent, and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s "Lost Generation" expatriate community. The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway's first novel, was published in 1926.

After his 1927 divorce from Hadley Richardson, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer. They divorced after he returned from Spanish Civil War where he had acted as a journalist, and after which he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940. They separated when he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II; during which he was present at the Normandy Landings and liberation of Paris.

Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in two plane crashes that left him in pain and ill-health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and 1940s, but in 1959 he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
July 20, 2018
”If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway

 photo HemingwayinParis_zpsb2c9c55f.jpg
The Lost Generation: Hemingway and the circle of ex-pat friends he later immortalised in The Sun Also Rises. More friends, including Harold Loeb, the model for Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises, on the left, Hemingway in the centre and Hadley on the right.

I hadn’t planned to read this book until I read this great article in the The Atlantic that was published recently by Joe Fassler that consists of a conversation he had with Daniel Woodrell. This article which whether you care one wit about Woodrell or for that matter Ernest Hemingway is still an inspiring read. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainm... Woodrell while bumming around Mexico found himself negotiating a trade with a hungry young American of a meal for a copy of A Moveable Feast. Woodrell ended up buying two tacos for a book that changed his life. He was ni-ni-nin-teen. He read the book through several times and for the price of two tacos it set him on the course to being a writer.

I have not read Hemingway for decades. I often think of him as a gateway drug to better literature. As you can imagine ever since my son was old enough to read I’ve been chucking books at him that I felt that he should read with frankly disappointing results. Books stabbed with bristling bookmarks littered his room and were left for dead. I realized I was trying to move him forward too fast and so I thought about what I liked to read when I was first becoming a reader. I tossed Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Rice Burroughs into his room. The books came back gnawed and masticated.

I did a little dance.

Then I gave him Hemingway.

I heard the snap of the bear trap.

He read everything he could get his hands on by Hemingway. In fact he has now read more Hemingway than I have. He then went on to Fitzgerald and expanded out to reading some film history books. By the whisker of my chiny chin chin he became a reader.

Despite the ease in reading Hemingway’s sparse prose I found myself squirming every time I sat down to read this book. I like vocabulary and the Oxford English Dictionary has listings for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words. So when we write we have a choice of 228,132 words to express ourselves. It feels like Hemingway cuts out 227,000 of them. The average literate adult knows 50,000, but may only use 17,000 and some studies show as low as 5,000. If you count for instance DRIVE, DRIVER AND DRIVES as three separate words our language blossoms to over 600,000 entries.

Hemingway was bucking against the establishment when he decided that adjectives were not necessary and sliced his prose down to just the bare minimum of what the reader needs.

Short sentences, short words.

I don’t mind some purple in my prose. William Faulkner’s famous epic opening sentence for Absalom! Absalom! was 1,288 words long. James Joyce in Ulysses made a mockery out of that with a sentence 4,391 words long. The fact of the matter is Hemingway has been canonized and his minimized writing style had a huge impact on the next generations of writers. I cringe whenever I hear anyone say if there is a simpler word use it. This all said a writer does have a responsibility to write to their audience.

 photo Gertrude_Stein_zps1bff0c10.jpg
The One and Only Gertrude Stein

Hemingway had some...well... interesting conversations with Gertrude Stein. Stein for the record gives me the willies more so when she expresses her opinions. The Lost Generation, as this group of creative people in Paris were called, flocked to her door and fell at her feet. She commanded respect and if you did not give that respect you were not invited back.

”I had started this conversation and thought it had become a little dangerous. There were almost never paused and there were something she wanted to tell me and I filled my glass.
‘You know nothing about any of this really, Hemingway,’ She said. ‘You’ve met known criminals and sick people and vicious people. The main thing is that the act male homosexuals commit is ugly and repugnant and afterwards they are disgusted with themselves. They drink and take drugs, to palliate this, but they are disgusted with the act and they are always changing partners and cannot be really happy.’
‘I see.’
‘In women it is the opposite. They do nothing that they are disgusted by and nothing that is repulsive and afterwards they are happy and they can lead happy lives together.’
‘I see.’”

I see. I see. I see.

Hemingway also spent some time with Fitzgerald. His portrayal of F. Scott is not the most endearing, but then I have no illusions about Fitzgerald and his destructive lifestyle, in particular, his debilitating drinking. Hemingway did admire Scott’s writing.

”His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a Butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it was effortless.”

 photo hemingway-fitzgerald_zps37335e88.jpg
Ernest Hemingway (The Bull) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Butterfly).

Hemingway becomes exasperated with the devastating influence that Zelda had on Fitzgerald’s life and writing. She wanted to drink, party, and be merry all the time. Zelda Sayre broke up with F. Scott after they became engaged. He was determined to become famous in an effort to win her back. He wrote This Side of Paradise and sent it out for consideration to publishers. The result: he lined the walls of his study with the rejection slips. After a third revision Maxwell Perkins went to bat for him and Scribners decided to publish. The book sold out in three days.

It makes me wonder if F. Scott had never met Zelda would he have ever become a successful writer? She was his muse and his kryptonite.

One thing I have discovered over the years in watching the relationship gymnastics of my friends is that we can not help who we fall in love with. It is mystical and sometimes makes no sense even to ourselves.

 photo Fitzgerald_zps66e52373.jpg
I’ve always liked this picture of the The Fitzgeralds.

A source of contention between Zelda and F. Scott was that all those wonderful witty bits of dialogue that came out of her mouth ended up in his writing. She had literary aspirations herself and felt that he was stealing her best material.

I wish I’d read this book when I was ni-ni-nin-teen because maybe I’d be a brilliant regional writer like Daniel Woodrell. (It could have been me being knocked silly on an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.) If you do not know much about the Lost Generation and their time in Paris this isn’t a bad place to start. It will be a quick read and should lead to other books and a new found interest in a period of time when it felt like everything was possible and change wasn’t something to be feared.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,698 followers
May 26, 2013
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-Prés, 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 Café de Flore and the relocated Shakespeare and Company bookshop (opened in its current location at 37 rue de la Bûcherie 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 knees: "I 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 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, wintry light. But you knew there would always be spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen."

or about wine "In 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 years: "But 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 happy."

Perhaps the one true condition of enjoying this memoir is that one must be an incurable romantic. An affliction I bear with pride.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
September 1, 2021
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

A 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 1920's.

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.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «پاریس جشن بیکران»؛ «جشن بیکران»؛ «جشن بی‌کران»؛ «جشن بی‌زمان»؛ اثر: ارنست همینگوی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهاردهم ماه جولای سال 2005میلادی

عنوان: پاریس جشن بیکران؛ جشن بیکران؛ اثر: ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم: فرهاد غبرایی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، کتاب خورشید، 1383، در 345ص، اندازه 11؛ در 17س.م چاپ چهاردهم 1399؛ شابک 9789647081689؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا، سده 20م

این کتاب پیشترها با عنوان «جشن بیکران» توسط انتشارات، با ترجمه ی جناب «فرهاد غبرایی» در سال 1369 منتشر شده است، واژه نامه دارد، موضوع همینگوی، ارنست، از سال 1899م تا 1961م، خانه ها و پاتوقها در پاریس فرانسه، داستان نویسان؛ سرگذشتنامه، تاریخ، پاریس، آداب و رسوم و زندگی اجتماعی از نویسندگان فرانسه - سده بیستم میلادی

عنوان: جشن بی‌کران؛ ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم شهرزاد بیات‌موحد؛ ویراستار اصغر اندرودی؛ تهران، ناژ، 1391؛ در 208ص؛ شابک9786006110042؛

عنوان: جشن بی‌زمان؛ ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم شهرزاد بيات‌موحد؛ تهران، ناژ، 1392؛ در 202ص؛ شابک 9786006110066؛

این فراموشکار، «پاریس» را، برای نخستین بار به سال 1975میلادی بود، که دیده ام، چند روز در آن شهر بودم، اما نخوابیدم؛ پس از خوانش این کتاب نیز، شبها خواب گشت و گام زدن، در خلوت «پاریس» کهنتر را میدیدم، «پاریس»ی را که شاید هرگزی وجود نداشته، و ذهن و خیالم آن را آفریده بود؛ شاید هم همین «پاریس» «ارنست همینگوی» بوده، که استاد در دوران جوانی خویش، با دیده ی نازنین خویشتن دیده اند، و آنرا زنده زنده، در یادداشتهای خویش جاودان نموده اند؛ اما این فراموشکار در خوابهایی که دیدم، انگار، در حومه های «پاریس» بودم؛ یادم هست در آن خوابها، حسابداری بیش نبودم؛ صبحها به «پاریس» میآمدم، و دفتر بزرگ تاجر لباس را مینوشتم؛ اما این کتاب، تصاویر روزهایی است، که شهرت، در گوشه و کنار «پاریس»، در انتظار «همینگوی» جوان بوده، «پاریسی» که «همینگوی» به دوست خود، آن را چنین میستایند: (اگر بخت یارت بوده باشد، تا در جوانی در «پاریس» زندگی کنی، باقی عمر را هر كجا که بگذرانی، «پاریس» با تو خواهد بود، چون «پاریس»، (همچو) جشنی ست بيكران)؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
October 14, 2017
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 one more than 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!
Profile Image for Kristi  Siegel.
192 reviews585 followers
December 7, 2009
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 any more because 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, but more a 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 you more.”

In 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 be more intimate and sensational. Hemingway performs verbal surgery throughout A Moveable Feast, and despite the book’s artistry, Hemingway spares almost no one his scathing memoir.
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books889 followers
October 6, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,825 reviews476 followers
March 6, 2023
Paris is a celebration, a hymn to life, friendship, creation, and a magnificent tribute to Paris.
Woody Allen's last film, "Midnight in Paris," led me to re-read this excellent author, Ernest Hemingway. Here it is a minor work, but it reveals all the talent of its author.
Here he evokes his first stay in Paris in the 1920s, in the company of his first wife, Hadley.
That's a financially difficult stay, poor in income but rich in joie de vivre, discoveries, and friendship.
We travel through time to discover the nightlife in Paris of the "Roaring Twenties." The talks at the Closerie des Lilas, the bustling Gertrude Stein and her shining circle, famous writers like Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Scott Fitzgerald, lesser-known as the Irish poet Ernest Walsh.
His friendship with Scott Fitzgerald is a rare friendship that mixes envy, admiration, and honesty.
The female characters are not left out, and the portrayal of Gertrude Stein and Zelda Fitzgerald is incredibly vivid and endearing. Two ladies with solid consistency, from equal backgrounds, southerner for Zelda, both for Gertrude Stein.
An entertaining book that takes us on a journey through time in a fair, excellent company.
Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,320 reviews2,195 followers
March 17, 2022

'We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply
and slept well and warm together and loved each other'

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.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,123 reviews1,624 followers
January 22, 2023

Corey Stoll è Hemingway.

La festa mobile per eccellenza è la pasqua: perché ogni anno trova una posizione diversa nel calendario, quando a marzo, quando ad aprile. E da lì slittano, prima o dopo, varie altre festività.
La festa mobile di Hemingway sono i ricordi dei suoi anni giovanili a Parigi, le scoperte, gli incontri, gli amori, la scrittura. Anni frizzanti, che Ernest si porta dietro tutta la vita come il più leggero e lieto e felice dei fardelli.
La mia festa mobile è questo libro, autentica scoperta. E la meraviglia di come l’io narrante, sicuramente lo stesso Ernest, si rivolge a se stesso, in un alternarsi di prima e seconda persona. Puro godimento. Hem parla ‘di’ se stesso e poi con cambio repentino parla ‘a’ se stesso, con la dolce e tenera “malinconia che potremmo riservare a un fratello perduto":
”Non preoccuparti. Hai sempre scritto prima e scriverai adesso. Non devi fare altro che scrivere una sola frase vera. Scrivi la frase più vera che conosci.” Così alla fine scrivevo una frase vera e poi da lì andavo avanti. E allora era facile perché c’era sempre una frase vera che conoscevi o che avevi visto o che avevi sentito dire da qualcuno.

Kathy Bates è Gertrude Stein.

Pubblicato postumo (tre anni dopo il suicidio, nel 1964), incompleto, con tanti materiali esclusi, e poi inclusi, forse sì e forse no, manca l’inizio, manca la fine, questo titolo, no quest’altro, ce n’è un intero elenco. Ma a me sembra a posto così, forse non perfetto, ma molto, molto notevole. E, soprattutto, una lettura che è autentica delizia.
Tra l’altro ho appreso che dopo gli attentati di Parigi del 2015 questo libro, pubblicato cinquant’anni prima, ha avuto un autentico boom di vendite: la capitale culturale dell’Occidente – almeno nel periodo in cui Hem ci abitava – ha rialzato la testa ritrovando il suo tono – l’esprit.
Alla fine degli anni Cinquanta (1956), quando iniziò a scrivere questo suo “portrait of the artist as a young man”, era un quasi sessantenne depresso e in qualche modo confuso: era perfino stato sottoposto a elettroshock, intervento che aveva peggiorato la situazione, per esempio indebolendo la sua memoria, rendendo difficile attingere ai suoi ricordi. Infatti scrive all’inizio di questa piccola gemma:
Questo libro contiene materiale dalle “remises” della mia memoria e del mio cuore. Anche se la prima è stata manomessa e il secondo non esiste.

Tom Hiddleston/Francis Scott Fitzgerald e Alison Pill/Zelda.

Tutto comincia per caso il giorno che l’Hotel Ritz di Parigi gli comunica di avere in cantina, conservati su sua richiesta di decenni prima, due suoi bauli: dai quali spuntarono ricordi e quaderni di appunti.
Hem, come lo chiamava affettuosamente qualche amico, racconta di tutti quelli che ha incontrato e conosciuto in quegli anni parigini. In pratica, tutti. Se non altro, tutti i migliori. Hem li racconta e ne parla con dolce e tenera malizia: fa sorridere parecchio come vengano tutti fuori pieni di limiti e difetti, e come, pur sforzandosi di non porsi al di sopra, il buon vecchio Hem finisce sempre con l’essere al di sopra.
Il capitolo più lungo è dedicato a Scott, che nessuno chiamava Francis, o Frank, caso mai Fitzgerald. Ma non solo, Scott ritorna in altri due sketch.
Sono ricordi, ma Hem li definisce fantasia. Ha ragione: i ricordi sono fantasia. Il che non impedisce loro di essere più veri del vero.
Le cose rimaste fuori, i ricordi non inseriti sono molti più di quelli che compaiono in queste pagine: la regola dell’iceberg, dell’omissione. Distillare non amplificare:
C’è un altro libro sulle parti che mancano e ci sono sempre le storie che sono andate perdute.
Brevi pagine che trasmettono un senso di invulnerabilità: il mondo era loro, la vita spalancata davanti. Eppure avevano una Grande Guerra alle spalle, e un’altra altrettanto mostruosa che cominciava ad annunciarsi.

E poi, certo, il film di Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris, uno dei suoi migliori da quando ha tirato i remi in barca e frugato anche nell’ultimo cassetto più riposto. Rivisto durante la lettura: appare evidente che Allen lo abbia letto e riletto, e tenuto ben presente scrivendo la sceneggiatura. Mi è piaciuto forse perfino più della prima volta, ho colto più rimandi e rilanci, e riferimenti, e battute.

Era un racconto molto semplice intitolato “Fuori stagione” e ne avevo omesso la vera conclusione cioè che il vecchio si impiccava. Era stata omessa in base alla mia nuova teoria che potevi omettere qualsiasi cosa se sapevi di ometterla e che la parte omessa avrebbe rafforzato la storia e fatto sentire alla gente qualcosa di più di quanto ci capivano.

Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 38 books216 followers
December 4, 2013
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 passages more self-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.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
659 reviews839 followers
May 31, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Larissa.
Author 7 books242 followers
January 3, 2008
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 yet...

Hemingway 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.
Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
687 reviews568 followers
June 14, 2022
61st book of 2022.

2nd reading. Our very own Ken Craft twisted my arm (hardly) into taking this with me to Paris along with Proust's final volume and I'm glad I did. I read this almost cover-to-cover yesterday on my return journey from Paris, most of it on the Eurostar, a bit more on the train from London and then polished it off this morning. As my 1st reading review suggests, I set out about, several years ago at university, reading an insane amount of Ernest Hemingway. Without hyperbole, I believed my thoughts were starting to sound like his simple declarative sentences. I took a long break. I last read this in 2017 and this was, in fact, my very first Hemingway book. Coming back to it now, having read most of his work, most of the work of those he talks about within, it felt like a different experience. I relished the snippets of Joyce. I remembered the Fitzgerald bits (they are hard not to). I realised that this memoir is the better side of Hemingway, the side that most people don't bother to look for or more aptly, see. He's gentle, he's funny, he's a man who was unbelievably, dauntingly, dedicated to the craft. The portraits within this book of Paris in the 1920s, when he was the same age I am now, twenty-five, are full of regret, nostalgia, pathos; Hemingway is a man who knew his flaws.

And of course, reading this on the Eurostar, I was doubled astounded by the images of Paris he creates, because they were so fresh in my own memory; in fact, many of them could well have been my own memories. It is testament to the immortality of Paris. Some of the roads and parks Hemingway mentions are ones I had, less than 24 hours ago, walked myself. On leaving university one piece of advice given by S. (the very lecturer detailed in my first review) was, "Travel the roads travelled by writers." In this way, we can feel their presence, perhaps somehow learn from them, feel their lasting power: these were things S. truly believed in; but I could write for too long about that. A wonderful book, Hemingway at his best, and at his best, he's up there with the rest.

1st reading. I read this back in my first year of University for a certain lecture about memoirs and such. I fancied myself top of the class choosing Hemingway. Our professor, Dr H., who is a very good poet (I went to one of his launches and was pleasantly surprised that through his insistent coughing, which none of us could work out, he read very well. I later found that the frequent short coughs he gave were due to a serious amount of smoking in his youth, apparently) asked us all to discuss our chosen books. I spoke about Paris as a setting, the writers Hemingway encounters, Joyce, Fitzgerald, the business with the latter's penis. I told everyone I thought it was very good.

At this time I was getting into Hemingway properly for the first time and struck the deal with my housemate, the year later, I think, to read everything Hemingway ever wrote before he read Ulysses. At some point we met with one of our professors, our favourite, Dr S., in a coffee shop and this challenge of ours came out. He told us he had, on getting his job as professor at the university many years ago, left his wife for a weekend and pitched a tent somewhere in the countryside and read Ulysses over two days. He had then packed up and come home again feeling "ready". He also admitted that when he had done his own MA he asked if his professor could simply teach him to, "write like Hemingway". Since then, I've been surprised to find many people in my creative circles dislike old Hemingway. In fact, if I could distil the opinions I've seen from my own experience they would be this: They don't like Hemingway, they don't bother trying with Joyce and everyone tells them that Fitzgerald is a supreme novelist and they aren't so sure. On my own MA I found a huge abundance of Paul Auster fans, more than anything, oddly.

Dr S. laughed at our challenge anyway over his coffee and expressed his joy at such a prospect; he said we were mad, competitive, it was great, he wished us all the best, that reading was the most important thing in life, etc.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
976 reviews491 followers
December 6, 2019
Mi primer Hemingway! Realmente me ha gustado conocer su prosa, oír su voz a través de las palabras; paladear sus silencios. Ver Paris con otros ojos. Y beber...porque beber, hemos bebido todos. Hemingway por haberlo escrito, su retrato por haber alzado la copa y todo el elenco de figurines que lo acompañan, por no dejarlo sólo.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
February 23, 2020
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

“We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.”

I love Ernest Hemingway as a writer, at his best, especially in many of the stories, but in the main novels, too, there is often breathtakingly good writing. Then there are the books, some of them much later, where there would seem to be parodies of himself. And he is ripe for parody, given the style:

“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.”

Either you find that paragraph laughable or loveable, and at this point I could honestly go either way, but in general I love his simple declarative and lyrical sentences.

A Moveable Feast is an interesting book to read after The Sun Also Rises, which is a book that begins in Paris and moves to the drunken disastrous fiesta at Pamplona, with people Behaving Badly all the time. That book has some of those lyrical passages, usually about fishing and bullfighting. Feast is written years after the last great work, The Old Man and the Sea, at a point when he thinks he is basically washed up (cracked up, he would say), depressed, paranoid; it is his last attempt to cement his reputation, to solidify the myth he has made of himself through all his works, the myth of the sensitive macho man, the best writer, the best drinker, the best fisherman, the best man. In Sun it is Jake Barnes as Hemingway, the only guy who is NOT behaving badly, the guy who rises above the "bitched" fray and goes fishing, away from people, back to nature. No one is faithful or can hold his liquor like the impotent Jake, poor guy. And so noble, a bullfighting aficionado.

Feast is two books, really. It’s in the main a kind of reprise, a revisiting of those early magical days, anecdotes of drinking, gambling, skiing, eating, visiting famous friends, loving Hadley, and writing, always writing. The first Feast book is an “earnest” apology to Hadley, his last love letter to her, as he faces madness and death, wherein you may learn to love Hem—his Tatie—just a little again, maybe. In the process he manages to capture some of that early lyrical glory of Paris and their young love life there. Hemingway dedicates Sun to Hadley and Bumby and gives her all the proceeds from it because he felt guilty all his life for dumping them, and I see that act as the first bookend of his collected acts of contrition, the last being the essays focused on their time together in Paris.

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

True, Hadley is more an image of The Beloved than an actual full –bodied character in the book; she and Bumby don’t do anything really but be Wife and Child, but they are (at least, I’ll say) romanticized here, washed with regret and sorrow at every turn. Though he sometimes frames it in the passive sense, as when he says, "people came in that would change things," and he calls them, to the end, "the rich" (Pauline Pfeiffer was a rich heiress whom he left Hadley for), he does make it clear he is sorry, though it is now decades later. Again and again he says, we were perfect, and we didn’t know we would soon never be perfect again.

“When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I had ever loved anyone but her.” [He had just come from Pauline's bed, so this might change any inclination you might have to feel sorry for him here. This is the problem in the book seen as apology, that he apologizes and then blames others, at points.}

But is it Hemingway speaking, or the myth he created of himself? Hem is cagey on the "truth" of his writing in Feast:

“This book is fiction, but there is always a chance that such a work of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.”

So the first "book" or aspect of Feast is Hadley love. But then there is the other half of the book where you realize sweet Hadley was lucky to get out when she did. In this second Feast, Hem reminisces about other famous people he knew at the time, and most of these people he just trashes as he often did.

Of Gertrude Stein, who mentored him in his writing and career: she is “lazy,” “jealous” (of others’ success, as if he weren’t!); “disloyal” (as if he weren’t, even in the process of trashing her!); he bashes her for bashing gay men writers; he yells at her for her 1920 reference to his generation as a “lost” generation: “who is calling who a lost generation?” Feels petty and ungrateful to the woman who spent countless hours supporting him and mentoring to him on his writing, even if some of what he says may be true.

Of Ford Madox Ford (who championed Hem’s early work): “I had always avoided looking at Ford when I could and I always held my breath.”

Of Wyndham Lewis: “. . . the eyes of an unsuccessful rapist.” (!)

And on and on, though he does not here critique Joyce, nor Pound, nor his lifelong friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, though he is consistently vicious about Zelda and what her “insanity” does to destroy Scott’s career. The Fitzgerald essays are really poignant, the best of the "other writer" essays.

To be fair, some of it is funny, though not as funny as he thinks it is, because he often comes off as petty and mean. But the writing advice is plentiful and useful:

“All you have to do is write one sentence. Write the truest sentence you know,”

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

“This was omitted on my new theory that you could omit anything if you knew that you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood.”

And we get good advice on the necessity for discipline and regularity, and reading when not writing. He says great and true things about Chekhov and Dostoevsky.

Finally, I am deeply conflicted about this sad book that in the main preserves one’s sense of his arrogance and nastiness, and also his lyrical brilliance. It was published after he committed suicide. Some of the writing is 5 star, for sure, and he is always interesting, if sometimes infuriating.

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,001 reviews1,288 followers
June 2, 2022
يقول هيمنجواي " هكذا كانت باريس عندما كنا فقراء جداً وسعداء جداً
مذكرات هيمنجواي الشاب في باريس في أوائل عشرينيات القرن الماضي
كتبها على مدار 3 سنوات, ونُشرت عام 1964 بعد 3 سنوات من انتحاره
وليمة متنقلة بين الذكريات والأدب ومعالم باريس.. المقاهي والمطاعم والمكتبات
حكايات عن صداقاته المختلفة للأدباء وعلاقته الجميلة بزوجته, قراءاته وأعماله
فترة غنية في حياته برغم الفقر المادي, محكية بسلاسة وبأسلوب بسيط
Profile Image for Nat K.
407 reviews147 followers
October 7, 2019

"We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other."

A memoir of Hemingway's time spent as a young, unknown writer in 1920s Paris.

This is very sensory based writing. References abound to food and drink and the change of seasons in Paris. You can feel what it's like to be living in poverty as a practically starving artist. And yet there are other ways to be fed. Intellectually and emotionally.

Hem talks of the many books he devoured, of viewing paintings by the masters Cezanne, Manet, Monet on a daily basis. The interesting conversations he had with people such as Gertrude Stein & Ford Maddox Ford. His friendships with F Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. Hem's (first) wife Hadley is by his side, on the periphery, not quite partaking in his literary world and artistic friendships. Yet none of this matters as they are in love. And in Paris.

The book is split into vignettes, each one focussed on a different aspect of their life in Paris. There are many caustic observations about his fellow writers and friends. Biting. Undoubtedly they felt likewise toward Hem. He talks openly of their drinking and relationship problems. But what would a memoir be without some good old fashioned sniping.

It's interesting to note that while Hem & his inner circle were by and large very poor, they still managed to head out to the local cafe daily and have a drink. Or two. Give or take. I don't recall noticing this the first time around.

Is this told with rose-coloured glasses stuck firmly in place? Probably. But then all the best memories are, aren't they.

This is my second reading of this book, after a distance of many years. Bookclub was continuing the Hem fest (we'd previously read Paula McLain's "The Paris Wife"). It still held interest for me. A good book to tuck into when you have an arvo free.

"Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was when we were very poor and very happy."
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,520 followers
January 11, 2016

Memoir… or fiction? It doesn’t matter with this amusing classic, a series of poignant and light vignettes about the author’s time as a poor, struggling writer in 1920s Paris.

Hem (as people refer to him in the book) offers up clear, unfussy portraits of everyone from salon-mistress/tastemaker Gertrude Stein and Shakespeare & Co’s generous owner, Sylvia Beach, to a snobbish, forgetful Ford Madox Ford and a nasty Wyndham Lewis, whom he compares to “toe-jam.”

I especially liked the couple of chapters devoted to fellow expat F. Scott Fitzgerald, including one that tells of a disastrous trip the pair took to retrieve Fitzgerald’s broken-down car in Lyon. It’s in this book that Hem praises Fitzgerald’s innate talent, blames Zelda for ruining that talent and recounts the famous anatomy lesson he gave Fitzgerald at the Louvre, prompted by a catty comment about the man’s genitals by Zelda.

There’s lots in here about Hem’s writing practices (he was publishing his first stories and working on The Sun Also Rises), struggling to make rent, gambling, alcohol and what authors he was reading.

An air of bittersweet regret hangs over the passages concerning his first wife, Hadley (pictured above), especially near the end when he confesses to an infidelity (to us, not to her).

The understatement here, and the book’s lyrical concluding passage, make this a warm, enduring portrait of the artist as a young man.

Even if not all of it really happened.
Profile Image for Annelies.
161 reviews3 followers
February 28, 2017
Yes, I know, this is a high rating. But I did really enjoy reading this book. It was like I was with Hemingway in Paris in the twenties. It really came to live before my eyes. I think it has much to to with his manner of writing. Very clear sentences, not a word to much but it captures all he has to say without much frivolity. He wrote this book at the end of his life so he really mastered this very own style of writing and which I like so much.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,633 followers
August 24, 2013
To paraphrase ol' Hem, "This is a fine and true book. It is honest and good, and the stories are important and just."

Hem, as I shall forever call him now, wrote this memoir just a few years before he died in 1961. It's about Hem and his first wife, Hadley, when they were young and poor in Paris in the '20s, and Hem would borrow books from the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, and he would go to cafes to write.

While there are stories about other writers in Paris at the time -- such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Ford Madox Ford -- much of the book is Hem talking about writing itself, which was interesting. He would sometimes worry that he couldn't write anymore and would have to reason with himself:

"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 that you know."

My favorite story was a bizarre trip to Lyon that Hem took with Fitzgerald, who drank too much and became convinced that he was dying. There's a funny scene of Hem pretending to take Scott's temperature with a bath thermometer, and then plotting how to get Scott to stop drinking. "You could not be angry with Scott any more than you could be angry with someone who was crazy, but I was getting angry with myself for having become involved in the whole silliness."

Later, Hem meets Zelda, Scott's unbalanced and demanding wife, and understands why Scott has so much trouble being able to write.

Hem also has some amusing stories about Gertrude Stein, with whom he had a prickly friendship: "There is not much future in men being friends with great women although it can be pleasant enough before it gets better or worse, and there is usually even less future with truly ambitious women writers." (Having read and not liked Stein's memoir "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," I say that she was ambitious but not necessarily great.)

Overall, I greatly enjoyed spending time with Hem, even though I'm sure some of the stories were exaggerated. In the preface, Hem wrote: "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."

Finally, I want to honor the cleverness of the title, which came from a letter Hem wrote to a friend in 1950: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
Profile Image for Vanessa.
462 reviews288 followers
October 11, 2017
Ernest Hemingway. A big name in the literary game. I was always hesitant to read him. Mainly due to his book titles, they never really grabbed me, feeling masculine and daunting. I thought he was a author I would struggle to connect with. How wrong I was. This retrospective memoir of his early writing life in Paris as an expatriate set in the 20’s was a great place to start, getting a good sense of Ernest as a young man before his fame as a well loved author.

There’s so much beauty and wonder in the writing. Some of my favourite things to read about are all contained in this book. Paris, books, art and the decadent feasting on a budget all whet my appetite for this book. I felt excited being transported back into that bygone era where Paris becomes the literati playground for indulgence in the pursuit of passion and living the good life despite monetary limitations. It’s a name dropping paradise and I lapped it up. Especially the chapters on his relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. I really liked the way he describes the struggles and the distractions during the writing process. Who would have thought that would be so interesting to read about! Even the poverty seems like a minor inconvenience and part of the whimsy! It’s all part of the glittery appeal of a struggling author finding his forte in the city that is the background to so much inspiration for so many artists!
Profile Image for Eric.
567 reviews952 followers
April 24, 2012
I decided to bail after his visit to the indoor bicycle races, like dance marathons one of those frantic displays of recreational endurance so popular in the 1920s. A quick comparing look at Joseph Roth’s account of a night at Berlin’s tracked bicycle races, in What I Saw, convinced me that I was wasting my time with Hemingway. There are better books. Hemingway’s style will always strike me as more or less mannered and ridiculous, but what I read of A Moveable Feast was especially bad—solemn, pompous, dialed down to a portentous slow-mo. It’s enough to make one cite Nabokov’s opinion that Hemingway is essentially a writer for boys.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,050 reviews1,832 followers
March 29, 2016
But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.

Well, this book was amazing. I was rather trepidatious, but it turned out to be excellent.

People who interfered with your life always did it for your own good and I figured it out finally that what they wanted was for you to conform completely and never differ from some accepted surface standard and then dissipate the way traveling salesmen would at a convention in every stupid and boreing way there was. They knew nothing of our pleasures nor how much fun it was to be damned to ourselves...

(I did not misspell "boring," it's that way in the book.)

Ernest Hemingway is writing about himself and his life in Paris. His writing style is so beautiful: simple and straightforward. I really love this style.

He discusses other 'big names' he was involved with at this time: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach.

To my vast surprise, I found Ernest Hemingway to be very funny. He made me laugh numerous times, especially "Chapter 17: Scott Fitzgerald" which was HILARIOUS. In this chapter Hemingway describes a trip he took with Scott and Scott is the biggest ninny. Hemingway trying to deal with Scott's idiocy is an absolute riot and I was cracking up. I didn't expect to laugh this much reading a Hemingway book - and that's not the only chapter where Hemingway's sense of humor shines.

Hemingway also gets into the most interesting discussions with his friends. He and Stein discuss homosexuality, the differences between gay men and lesbian women, sexual predators, and Stein gives Hemingway sex advice which he proudly brings home to Hadley.

Another great chapter is the one where F. Scott Fitzgerald comes to Hemingway, very upset, convinced - absolutely convinced - that he has a tiny penis and no woman (besides Zelda) will ever want him. Who planted this idea in him? Zelda, of course. So Ernest Hemingway is such a good friend and he's like, "Well, let's check this out." So he takes a look at Scott's penis and declares it normal. Wow. This is a good friend. Then he takes him to see a Michelangelo exhibit so that Scott can feel better about his penis. I AM NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP. Lastly, he gives Scott some sex advice on how to make the most use of his penis.

One thing I love hearing Hemingway talk about is poverty and hunger. He and Hadley are pretty poor in Paris and Hemingway sometimes lies to his wife and says he's going to eat lunch but instead takes a two-hour walk around the park so that it saves them money. Poverty and hunger are two subjects I am intimately familiar with and I loved hearing about Hemingway's experiences with them.

When you are 25 and a natural heavyweight, missing a meal completely makes you very hungry. But it also sharpens all of your perceptions, and I found that many of the people I wrote about had very strong appetites and a great taste and desire for food, and most of them were looking forward to having a drink.

This is accurate.

One of the most absolutely romantic parts of the book is the chapter in which Hemingway and Hadley decide to wear their hair the exact same length. Hemingway wants to grow out his hair - he so much admires the long hair of the Japanese men he sees. Hadley is so supportive and they make a very romantic vow to wear their hair the same length. This is a very beautiful, romantic and heartwarming chapter. They defy the social conventions of the time:

I enjoyed being considered damned and my wife and I enjoyed being considered damned together.

Do you know that Hemingway was the creator of the hashtag #sorrynotsorry?

I was sorry about this but there was nothing I could do about it. LOL I kid, I kid - but actually I'm not joking, this is Hemingway's attitude about a lot of things.

The book is also rife writing advice. I am not a writer! But I think anyone who is a writer would really enjoy and even possibly benefit from reading this book - Hemingway offers some thoughts and suggestions that I could see coming in very handy.

Now, the book isn't perfect. Of course we have shades of racism, homophobia, and sexism in here. Not to mention I was getting a strong James-Bond-feeling during a lot of parts:

A girl came in the café and sat by herself at a table near the window. She was very pretty with a fresh face as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain-freshened skin, and her hair black as crow's wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek.

I looked at her and she disturbed me and made me very excited.

Hello, Bond. LOL This is something Bond would think - except Bond would include a detailed description of her breasts.

The book also has its dull parts.

Anyway, my point is that the book isn't perfect - but it's very good. I highly recommend it, actually. Clear, concise writing. It's funny. It has some great ideas and thoughts in it. I'm not saying Hemingway is a wonderful human being, but his writing is wonderful IMO. It's also fun to see everyone else traipsing around Paris: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, etc. I really was transported to 1920s Paris. I thought this would be boring, and I was happily proven wrong. I will definitely end up reading this a second time, perhaps in Spanish, where it is titled: París era una fiesta Or Paris was a party.

P.S. Please note that this is a review of The Restored Edition. I really liked this edition - I've read quotes from the other version and have decided that this is superior.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,109 reviews44.2k followers
September 28, 2018
The Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway is an intriguing read.

It’s an odd little novel, more biography than fiction. Hemingway recollects his youth, the days where he had no money and lived from story to story before he had his first major novelistic breakthrough.

The reader that will take most from this will be one that has read a lot of 20th century literature and is aware of the interactions between writers and the ways in which they supported each other through their careers. Ezra Pound was a central figure who helped form a community of writers and organised donations for T.S Eliot so he could quite his job and write poetry. James Joyce was also important though quite hard to actually talk to (and even find.) Hemingway recollects the conversations he had with such men, and how they helped him hone his craft.

More importantly though, Gertrude Stein, writer and homosexuality advocate, was perhaps the one who influenced him most strongly. From reading this, it is clear that she was one of the truest friends Hemmingway ever had. I found the sections with her far more compelling than those with the other literary figures, and I would gladly have read a novel just about their curious friendship. There were some good bits here, though the novel took a repetitive tone as each new section only introduced a new writer and the novel as a whole didn’t feel like it was progressing.

The strength of the writing is at its peak when Hemingway describes Paris (where he met Stein.) He creates a vivid picture of a city that he clearly adored, one that shaped him as an individual.

Although I had my reservations about this work, I know I must try more of his novels in the future. This may have been a bad place to start (quite a few readers suggest that this is the last novel of his one should read) because it is a retrospective piece about how he became a writer. He is looking back from a place of sucess.
Profile Image for Adam Dalva.
Author 7 books1,511 followers
December 5, 2018
Charming, ranging, generous, memoir of Paris, stuffed full of memorable lines ("Never Any End to Paris") and packed with the luminaries of the expat era. How weird to read a book where Joyce is just sort of around, where Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas squabble, and where, in an excellent moment, Fitzgerald's face turns into a death mask while drunk. All along, Hemingway's first marriage to Hadley is at once extolled and mourned. I read the Restored Edition, which in some ways I regret, especially after reading about the interventionist edit and suffering through repetitions, but this is an infectious breeze, one that will infect you with wanderlust. Hemingway is an odd caricature of himself, but there is a charm to his wanton masculinity that makes him hard not to like.
Profile Image for Carolyn Marie  Castagna.
270 reviews5,547 followers
July 30, 2020
Hemingway’s true and original foreword to A Moveable Feast: “This book contains material from the remises of my memory and of my heart. Even if the one has been tampered with and the other does not exist.”

Ernest Hemingway passed away before he could write a final chapter or even title this book, so it was left up to Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife, to give the book a title. She remembered hearing her husband once say to a friend, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

After reading that, I could not imagine the book being titled anything else. A “feast” can be an allusion to religious feasts, but it can also be seen as a “feast of life,” as in your supreme happiness. Living your life as if you’re eating a great feast. The term “moveable” is a bit more straightforward; wherever you go, that feeling of “supreme happiness” goes with you. 

Personally, I’ve been dreaming of traveling to Paris for years. I have also been an admirer of Hemingway’s writing for many years as well. Put both of them together, set during the roaring 20’s, and you’ve got my perfect book! This book truly felt like a moveable feast, literally and figuratively. While reading, I kept having this feeling like I was peeking into the keyhole of a door. That door belonged to Ernest Hemingway, and on the other side I could see the Paris of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and many more of my literary and artists idols. Sadly, Time itself locked this imaginary door from the inside. Even though I couldn’t walk into the room, I had my ear to the door in such a way that I could hear everything. Ultimately, these words are a portal to Hemingway’s 1920’s Paris disguised as a simple book. As Hemingway says on page 18, “...I entered far into the story and was lost in it.”

We as the readers not only get an intimate portrait of Ernest Hemingway himself, but also a select group of people he was in contact with. My personal favorite was discovering how Hemingway viewed his close friendship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He wrote a preface before one of the chapters about Fitzgerald that says, “His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on butterfly’s wings…” He continues this stunning simile by revealing the wings flaws, and by doing so “Scott’s” own faults. He ends by saying, “He was flying again and I was lucky to meet him just after a good time in his writing if not a good one in his life.” Hemingway even describes reading The Great Gatsby for the first time, and being put off by the cover. On the dust jacket, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg disturbed him so much he confessed, “I took it off to read the book.” This was one of those moments while reading where I felt like I was peeking through the door’s keyhole. I watched Ernest Hemingway take the dust jacket off and face it down on his table. 

The most intriguing and heartbreaking aspect of their friendship was discovering, through Hemingway’s eyes, just how much mental suffering Fitzgerald went through. I have always known he was an alcoholic, and his wife Zelda tended to “act out” in a way. Hemingway always suspected it was out of jealousy. These firsthand accounts felt like “Ernest” was telling me the secrets of his friend’s life in ultimate confidence. 

My favorite aspect of this book was watching “Hem,” as some people call him, go about his everyday life: writing, traveling, walking to cafes… These little snatches of time felt even more personal. He’s bringing us into these scenes to not only tell the story of his life, but also to show us who he truly was. This is one of my favorite lines from the book, “... we would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.” From the outside this moment is quite simple, but it’s within the so-called “simple moments” where I find the greatest artistry. 

Another image that I completely fell in love with was while Hemingway sat writing in a cafe. “...when I sharpened the pencil with a pencil sharpener with the shavings curling into the saucer under my drink.” There really isn’t anything groundbreaking about this scene, but after I read it, I had this overpowering need to paint this image. I could see the saucer in my mind, I pictured it being white with a simple trim, and the beige pencil shavings curled all around the matching white cup holding his “cafe au lait.” 

This “restored edition” has many alternative endings, because Hemingway kept rewriting it. He passed away before doing any final edits, but his grandson Sean Hemingway picked up the pencil that his grandfather put down. He reworked the original version of A Moveable Feast into its truest form, and I can only imagine how touched Ernest Hemingway would be if he saw his legacy living on. Afterall, Hemingway says on page 22, “I would stand and look out over the roofs 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 you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and go on from there.” I can’t help but feel that this book in its entirety is the truest sentence Hemingway knew. 
Profile Image for Gypsy.
397 reviews503 followers
September 15, 2018

عالی. عالی عالی عالی. داستان نبود و خوندن چیزی که داستان نیست واسه من خیلی عذاب‌آوره. اما به‌قدری جذاب بود که هم سریع می‌خوندم هم هی مکث می‌کردم که بعضی تیکه‌هاش توی ذهنم بشینه. چه دیالوگ‌هایی، چه شخصیت‌هایی، چه دغدغه‌هایی. همینگوی ازین کافه می‌ره اون کافه، مشروب می‌خوره، خوش می‌گذرونه، غذاهای خوب می‌خوره، اطرافیانش رو می‌بینه و حرف می‌زنه، و می‌نویسه، می‌نویسه، می‌نویسه. درآمد داره و حتی اگه یه شب جای نه چندان راحتی بخوابه یا غذایی که دوست داشته نخوره یا با کسی که خواسته حرف نزنه، راضی و خوشحاله و می‌نویسه. دقیقاً یه نویسنده. تمام چیزی که یه نویسنده می‌خواد باشه.

شیفتۀ ازرا پاوند شدم! مهربونی و سخاوتمندی و توجهش، و البته توصیفات همینگوی از ظاهرش. جویس و فیتزجرالد و خانمش. میس استاین. همه‌ش آدم‌های هم‌ردیف خودش با دنیاهای متفاوت و رنگارنگ و بیکران. پاریس جشن بیکر��ن یه جشن بیکران واقعی بود. یه تیکه‌ای که دوست داشتم و خواستم اینجا بنویسم، رابطۀ فیتزجرالد و خانمش بود. علاقه درعین حسادت. فیتزجرالد از کارهای خانمش حرصش می‌گرفت و مجبور بود توی مجالس مختلف همراهش باشه از بس توجه‌ مردهای دیگه رو جلب می‌کرد، از طرفی هم خانمش حسودیش می‌شد که فیتزجرالد هی می‌شینه خونه می‌نویسه و به بهانۀ مهمونی‌ها می‌کشوندش بیرون. بعد هم جنونش. باعث شد برم دربارۀ این زوج به‌یادموندنی تاریخ هنر(ادبیات؟ هنر؟ بابا تاریخ به‌هرحال) مطالعه کنم. اون‌قد این کتاب رو دوست داشتم که بعد از تموم شدنش برای اینکه این حال و هوا توی ذهنم موندگار بشه، رفتم فیلم گتسبی بزرگ رو دیدم.

و زن همینگوی که بعد هربار برگشتنش به خونه، ازش می‌پرسید چی یاد گرفتی. بابا زنش هم پاریس جشن بیکرانی بود واسه خودش. :))
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,684 followers
April 25, 2011
A Moveable Feast is a beautiful book. Gorgeous. The prose is Hemingway-crisp, concise and evocative, but even with the Ezra Pound love fest midway through the book (fascinatingly against the grain in an America predisposed to loathe the poet for his ties to Nazism), A Moveable Feast isn’t A Moveable Feast until Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda appear on the scene.

Fans of Fitzgerald’s probably cringe at Papa’s descriptions of the Scott’s sad debasement. Zelda is a mad bitch; Scott is a drunken man-child; she makes him piss away his talent; it is all sad and pathetic; Hemingway does nothing to mitigate the sadness.

But I don’t think Hemingway wrote this, even in his later years in Ketchum, with any intention to impugn Fitzgerald, or Scott (as he called him). I think Hemingway struggled with how any talented author -– particularly one I believe Hemingway thought was more naturally talented than himself (though I would disagree with that assessment) –- could allow his talent to go to waste in petty disputes with his wife and too much drink to alleviate the disputes.

Everything surrounding Scott and Zelda is tragic, and even having read this before, even knowing the historical progression of Zelda and Scott, I found myself hoping, again, that things would be different -– that Scott would find a way to become great or stay great or whatever. Papa certainly wants it to be different. I want it to be different. But in the end I am not sure I care what Scott or Zelda or Hadley or even myself would have wanted. It’s Ernest’s book. Fuck the lot of us if we are offended and don’t get it.

I wish this had not been published. It is almost too personal, but damn am I glad it was.

Could I be as brave as Ernest? Have I earned the right?
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,862 reviews1,897 followers
September 1, 2018
Real Rating: 2.5* of five

I am not a Hemingway fan. Next to D.H. Lawrence and Ivy Compton-Burnett, he's my least favorite English-language writer. This sly, arch memoir of Paris in the 1920s contains unkind and unflattering portraits of people who were kind to Hemingway back in the day, as well as some deeply homophobic stuff that reveals the author's life-long anxiety about his own sexuality. He was quite pretty in his youth:

He was always hostile towards "otherness" and I suspect, given how vividly Manly his pursuits were, that they sprang in part from his anger and fear at being pigeonholed as "arty" or "an artist" which was code for queer in that time. He even turned on famously Sapphic Gertude Stein, whose aperçu "Ernie's remarks do not constitute literature" is the single best thing in her own tediously overwrought ouevre, and still whose support for him in his initial Parisian foray was key to his success.

So my response to this book, read after the extraordinarily excellent The Sun Also Rises and his uniformly good, frequently excellent, short fiction, came off badly in my eyes. (I dislike The Old Man and the Sea almost but not quite as much as Sons and Lovers and slightly more than Manservant and Maidservant, both perfectly horrible books.) I won't read the bits of his ouevre I've escaped, and I don't recommend him to you as a reader. I actively, forcefully discourage you from reading his work if you're an aspiring writer. The temptation to emulate his style *must*be*resisted* because, trust me on this!, you cannot reach its heights.

I don't like his stuff but I do acknowledge his hugely effortful and massively talented foray into stylistic innovation.

I suspect, though I cannot prove, that Hemingway won't survive the ages. I'm not at all sure novels will survive the ages as a means of consuming stories. It seems to me that the storytelling medium to beat is, and will continue to be as it grows and refines itself, video/computer games. Their complexity and their sheer scope quite overpowers mere imagination-driven reading. Novels will be as dead as poetry is.

O brave new world....
Profile Image for Helga.
847 reviews120 followers
July 6, 2022
I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.

This is Hemingway's memoir during the years he spent in Paris with his wife as an expat in the 1920s.

There are so many sorts of hunger… memory is hunger.

What made the reading of this remarkable book more enjoyable is Hemingway's reminiscences of known authors such as Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and few others.

One does not forget people because they are dead.
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