Moveable Feast (Hemingway)

A Moveable Feast 
Ernest Hemingway, 1964
Simon & Schuster
240 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780684824994

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.

Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio 
Birth—July 21, 1899
Where—Oak Park, Illinois
Death—July 02, 1961
Where—Ketchum, Idaho
Education—Oak Park & River Forest High School
Awards—Pulitzer Prize, 1952; Nobel Prize, 1954

Ernest Hemingway did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the twentieth century, and for his efforts he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954. Hemingway wrote in short, declarative sentences and was known for his tough, terse prose. His main protagonists were always men and women of courage and conviction, who suffered unseen scars, both physical and emotional.

Hemingway was born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. After graduation from high school, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked briefly for the Kansas City Star. Failing to qualify for the United States Army because of poor eyesight, he enlisted with the American Red Cross to drive ambulances in Italy. He was severely wounded on the Austrian front on July 9, 1918. Following recuperation in a Milan hospital, he returned home and became a freelance writer for the Toronto Star.

In December of 1921, he sailed to France and joined an expatriate community of writers and artists in Paris while continuing to write for the Toronto Star. He began his fiction career with "little magazines" and small presses, which led to a volume of short stories, In Our Time (1925).

Then, as a novelist, he gained international fame: The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) established Hemingway as the most important and influential fiction writer of his generation. He covered the Spanish Civil War, portraying it in fiction in his brilliant novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, (1940), which continued to affirm his extraordinary career. He subsequently covered World War II.

Hemingway's highly publicized life gave him unrivaled celebrity as a literary figure. He became an authority on the subjects of his art: trout fishing, bullfighting, big-game hunting, and deep-sea fishing, and the cultures of the regions in which he set his work—France, Italy, Spain, Cuba, and Africa.

The Old Man and the Sea (1952) earned him the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in his being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954. Hemingway died in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 2, 1961. (Adapted from the publisher.)

Book Reviews
This is a book of love, loathing and bitterness. Love of Paris is the matter of the parts in which Hemingway relates how he settled into a routine as a writer in the tranquil years before what he calls "the rich" arrived. Written with that controlled lyricism of which he was master, these pages are marvelously evocative.
Lewis Galantier - New YorkTimes (5-10-1964)

For it is impossible to read his recollections of life in Paris in the nine-twenties without regarding this posthumous book as extraordinarily mean. His portrait of Gertrude Stein, whose hospitality he frequently enjoyed, is cruel and humiliating, and his portrait of Scott Fizgerald, a friend, is the same.
Brooks Atkinson - New York Times (7-7-1964)

A Moveable Feast retained a certain irresistible charm. It was a privilege to be able to read about that time in Paris in the words of one of the most important literary expatriates, and it remains so to this day. Reading A Moveable Feast for the fourth (and probably not the last) time, I was struck by how much of it is still agreeable to me. It is actually possible to like Hemingway as he plays with his little son and his cat, fondly nicknamed Bumby and F. Puss, as he talks and travels with Hadley...
Jonathan Yardley - Washington Post

Hemingway beautifully captures the fragile magic of a special time and place, and he manages to be nostalgic without hitting any false notes of sentimentality. "This is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy," he concludes. Originally published in 1964, three years after his suicide, A Moveable Feast was the first of his posthumous books and remains the best
David Laskin, author

Discussion Questions 
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for A Moveable Feast:

1. What do you make of Hemingway's remark in his Preface:

If the reader prefers, this 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.

What is he saying? Is he suggesting little of none of his memoir is true? (Don't worry if you're not sure: no one is—the line is a bit of a puzzle.)

2. Given his later renown and personal excesses (alcoholism, braggadocio and bluster, womanizing, meanness), what do you make of this young Hemingway? How would you describe him? Is he a likable? Admirable?

3. What was the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, as described in A Moveable Feast? Where do you see the fault lines of their marriage? What part did horse racing play? Some have surmised that Hadley was the one woman (wife) he truly loved. What happened?

4. Talk about Hemingway's depictions of the famous literary characters in his Paris circle of friends. Whom do you find most interesting? What does he say, for instance, about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald? Some readers have found his observations (even his treatment) cruel; others see Hemingway as honest if acerbic. What do you think?

5. Which episodes do you find particularly funny—perhaps the luncheon incident with Ford Madox Ford? Or Ezra Pound? Or the trip to Lyons with Fitzgerald?

6. Writing from a distance of some 30 years, Hemingway paints a beauty, even glamour, in being poor and that moment. Why does this seem to have been such a happy time for him? What lends this work its twilight nostalgia?

7. Talk about the writing ritual Hemingway describes when he was struggling to write his first volume of short stories and his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. What kind of discipline and commitment does it take to persevere when his stories were returned by the publishers. In his final years Hemingway's talent had fallen off, and he found himself unable to create a great novel. Does that knowledge affect how you view his vigor during those early years?

8. In the last chapter of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway refuses to accept responsibility for the failure of his marriage, painting himself almost as a victim of Pauline's machinations. How do you feel about Hemingway's explanation?

9.Continuing with Question #8: This original account of Hemingway's betrayal was heavily edited by his fourth wife, Mary, who some surmise may have had a reason for the particular shape the chapter took.

But a newly expanded and altered edition was issued in 2009 by Hemingway's grandson. In the new version the final chapter differs—Hemingway admits his culpability in betraying Hadley. Does knowing this change things, does it alter your answer to Question #8?

10. Have you read any of Hemingway's novels or short stories (which some scholars consider his finest writing)? If so, does reading A Moveable Feast affect how you read his fiction? If you have not other Hemingway works, does this book inspire you to do so?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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