A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, is a book of memoirs that according to the author himself can be read as a work of fiction, which, by the way, we can do with any other memoir, as authors of their own free will embellish certain passages of their life. But more than just a memoir, this is a book of memories – to put it one way and although it seems like they are one and the same-, as if they were stories that, in spite of that form a single unit at the end of the day (or stories), which retain their autonomy. Hemingway cemented with this his status as nothing less than a master storyteller of the last century. In some cases the anecdote is important, in others the environment. There are times, even, in which it seems to us that we’re gossiping with the writers of the lost generation, as the book contains passages about Hemingway’s contemporaries that are famous today, and many readers, but especially many writers, know them by heart. In a Moveable feast we get to know the writers of The Lost Generation, among many others. Some are referred to only in passing, but others are to be found in full interaction with Hemingway, drinking, talking about literature and strolling through Paris, or other cities, such as the famous trip made by the author with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In the book the author speaks to us of fishing in the River Seine, horse racing, goat milk, living in the moment; he speaks of hunger, of his interesting education in literature based on paintings that hang in the famous museums, and the cafes, and the people that Hemingway saw at the cafes, as well as trips to Spain and Austria and on the streets and parks and monuments of Paris. He takes us to bookstores, like Shakespeare & Company and tells us about its owner, Sylvia Beach, who lent him books as a young apprentice journalist and writer. He includes detailed pages about learning the craft of writing.
This work, which relates to events between 1921 to 1926, contains phrases that let us understand a little about the psychology of the survivors of the First World War. It provides splendid reading tips that Gertrude Stein gave to Hemingway, as she was fond of saying “you should read only what is truly good or truly bad”.
It also contains the anecdote whereupon Gertrude Stein coins the phrase “The Lost Generation” which ended up giving a name to the literary generation that Hemingway belonged to.
The book, although quite brief and easy to read, is full of memorable phrases that are part of the Hemingway mythology. It is a book written in that clear, simple English that made Hemingway famous, but it is not a simple book.
Hemingway was traveling a lot when he lived in Paris. He would go to Spain and Austria, among other places, with his first wife, Hadley Richardson. When he moved to Florida, with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, he travelled again to Paris and stayed at the Ritz. At some point on one of these trips, in the early 1930’s, perhaps, Hemingway left a suitcase full of his writings in the hotel, notes and drafts and such. Then he recuperated the notebooks in the 1950 s, which helped him write A Moveable Feast.