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A Moveable Feast [Paperback]

Ernest Hemingway
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 29 1996
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.

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In the preface to A Moveable Feast, Hemingway remarks casually that "if the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction"--and, indeed, fact or fiction, it doesn't matter, for his slim memoir of Paris in the 1920s is as enchanting as anything made up and has become the stuff of legend. Paris in the '20s! Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, lived happily on $5 a day and still had money for drinks at the Closerie des Lilas, skiing in the Alps, and fishing trips to Spain. On every corner and at every café table, there were the most extraordinary people living wonderful lives and telling fantastic stories. Gertrude Stein invited Hemingway to come every afternoon and sip "fragrant, colorless alcohols" and chat admit her great pictures. He taught Ezra Pound how to box, gossiped with James Joyce, caroused with the fatally insecure Scott Fitzgerald (the acid portraits of him and his wife, Zelda, are notorious). Meanwhile, Hemingway invented a new way of writing based on this simple premise: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."

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


"The first thing to say about the 'restored' edition so ably and attractively produced by Patrick and Sean Hemingway is that it does live up to its billing . . . well worth having."--Christopher Hitchens, "The Atlantic"

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the lucky ones Dec 7 2005
By the end of his life, Hemingway and his narratives had become so intertwined in so many ways that it was often impossible to know where the fiction ended and the real life began. Hemingway was a master at incorporating elements of his own life and experience into his fiction, and acting out elements of his stories in his own life, that by the time of this text, 'A Moveable Feast', written near the end of his life (and published posthumously) the boundary between fact and fiction was a very permeable boundary.
Of course, for Hemingway, truth was about as fascinating as fiction could ever be. With this particular text, the reader learns much about Hemingway and the particular time of the artists and post-World War I community in Paris. The inscription shows the influence that this time and experience had on Hemingway:
'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.'
Hemingway wrote this to a friend in 1950, several years before working on this text. Of course, the Moveable Feast that was Paris for Hemingway was not simply Paris, but a particular Paris - the Paris of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, of Ford Madox Ford and Ezra Pound, of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda. Hemingway has a no-holds-barred sense of writing, both for those he liked and those he didn't. His description of Zelda, for example, in both physical and personality aspects, is a rather scathing critique - F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway were competitive friends, but Zelda Fitzgerald and Hemingway were rivals in many more ways. Hemingway's recollections of his wife, Hadley, are equally intimate, often romantic while remaining realistic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A guide to Paris and its writers July 7 2004
I read this book while living in Paris. From reading other works by Hemingway, I realized that A Moveable Feast isn't as sophisticated as his novels. He writes as if in a stream of thought rather than being descriptive and evoking, so it was disappointing in that respect. Also, the novel, somewhat, lacks flow, but this could be so because of its posthumous publication. This doesn't hamper the ability to understand the novel in anyway, so it's a take it or leave it situation.
The two things that I enjoyed most about A Moveable Feast was its adherence to places and people found in Paris during the twenties and, if you are fascinated by such writers as Gertrude Stein or F. Scott Fitzgerald or just writers in general, this is definitely a key text to learning more about the personalities of these writers...through Hemingway's eyes, of course, but always interested, insightful, and sometimes hilarious in a quirky way. What also impressed me about this book is the personal insight into Hemingway's own life--how he lived, how he felt, what kind of person he was. He describes several scenarios involving his wife and other writers that portray who Hemingway was as a person. Also, since this was written shortly before his suicide, it is possible to see a sort of descent in Hemingway's mood as he closes the novel, which adds a moving and sorrowful end to the novel. Considering these elements, I think A Moveable Feast is definitely worth reading, particularly if one is staying in Paris. (Hemingway mentions the adresses--most of which are still intact in Paris--of other famous writers as well as places, such as the Closerie de Lilas, where he ate, drank, and "shopped.") It can serve as a mini-guidebook for those interested in expatriate writers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Memoir or Just A Bunch of Memories? May 31 2004
After returning from a trip to Paris I decided to read this memoir by Hemmingway because I heard he loved Paris as much as I. I have to say I imagined a beautifully descriptive book filled with telling prose and wonderful scenes of Paris. I love the way Hemmingway writes but this book disappointed me. It may be that it was published after his death and slapped together without his perfectionistic control.
"A Moveable Feast" is an interesting read, simple even. If you know Paris you can even walk with Hemmingway along the Rues and conjure up a few old cafes that are still in business. If you are a writer it is nice to imagine yourself as the poor and struggling Hemmingway bent on a dream. But the stories are really nothing more than gossip about other writers and reknown figures such as, Fitzgerald, Stein, James, Pound and others flocking through Paris in the 1920's. I was hoping for more. The only paragraph I paid much attention to because of its "Hemmingway" quality read like this, "They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure." Gems like this can be found but unfortuneately not often. Paris and Hemmingway are both such profound enigmas that I expected a gourmet feast not just a trip to Denny's!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hemingway's Best Jan. 14 2004
This is my 100th review and when I realized I was approaching number 100, I puzzled over what book to make my list as my 100th review. Hemingway immediately came to mind, but then the question was, which one? I finally decided on this, which may well be my favorite Hemingway work.
Even though it was published posthumously, this book does not reek of other hands having been all over it as have some other posthumous Hemingway publications. It has been questioned as to how much of this book is fact and how much fiction. Even Hemingway raised the issue at the beginning of the book. It doesn't really matter. In this book Hemingway is recollecting events that occurred over roughly a five year period which were over thirty years past when he started on the book. So, no doubt of it may well be fiction, given the passage of time.
But the book is monumental in that it is perhaps the quietest and most elegant of Hemingway's books. It is broken into chapters that recount various episodes in his life during that period he dwelled largely in Paris. It is sometimes funny, occasionally sad, but always intriguing. As I write this, I'm slowly convincing myself that it is my favorite work by him.
We are introduced to Hemingway's circle of friends and acquaintances from that period: Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, and the always interesting F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It's amazing how many other literary figures Hemingway came in contact with during his life and he gives interesting tales of all of them.
Even if you normally dislike Hemingway, I truly believe you will love reading this memoir. A true literary triumph and recounting of a time like none we will ever see again.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best subway read ever
I'm so glad I brought this book because I not only experienced the amazing writing of Ernest Hemingway but also gained insight into his extra/ordinary life in Paris. Read more
Published 3 months ago by cy.
3.0 out of 5 stars Paris in the 20'
I wanted to read A Moveable Feast as soon as I found out that its subject was similar to The Paris Wife' by Paula McLain, a novel I loved. Read more
Published 4 months ago by bedi
5.0 out of 5 stars An underpinning to many of his subsequent novels
This collection gave me clear I site into many of the charters and events that appear in Hemingway's novels which emerged later in his writing career. Read more
Published 6 months ago by KB
5.0 out of 5 stars Book: Movable Feast
What a great book, really gave the feel of Paris, brought me back to my visit to France with my sister in 2008, memories......
Published 6 months ago by linda
5.0 out of 5 stars Very poor and very happy
A wonderful read and very easy to get caught up in! An older Hemingway looking back on the time when he was "twenty-five and living in Paris", really the period from 1921 to 1926. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Daffy Bibliophile
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Book was in prime condition, and arrived in my mailbox promptly. The book itself is an excellent journey through Paris, France in the eyes of Ernest Hemingway. Read more
Published on May 23 2012 by knappj
2.0 out of 5 stars Not better
I fell for this gimmick by the publisher to buy a second copy of this book, but it is not as good as the first one.
Published on Jan. 1 2012 by Grangegrammy
3.0 out of 5 stars Happiness ending in regret
I appreciated this memoir of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley and their son Bumby, as they experienced Paris (and the occasional excursion to Austria and Spain) in the... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2010 by D Glover
5.0 out of 5 stars On Being Poor and Happy in Paris
This book is Hemingway's recollection of living in Paris as a young writer, including the period when he wrote "The Sun Also Rises". Read more
Published on Dec 16 2009 by Columbus
2.0 out of 5 stars Can never decide with Hemingway
I'm not sure if I'm the only one that feels this way - but its just that Hemmingway is so hyped and supposedly amongst the best authors of the century. Read more
Published on June 24 2004
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