Moveable Feast (Hemingway)

Discussion Questions 
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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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