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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

Review

"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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very poor and very happy May 21 2013
By Daffy Bibliophile TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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. Paris, the moveable feast that one takes with you for the rest of your life.

The book is structured in a series of vignettes and it's like leafing through Hemingway's personal photo album. Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach and her library that inspired so many authors in Paris, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his personal problems, Hemingway's favourite café and the waiters who knew him and welcomed him as a friend. And, of course, his wife and son both of whom he obviously loved dearly. They're all here and they all stand as witnesses that you don't need money to be happy.

This is a book for writers but I think anyone who enjoys seeing snapshots of a life well lived would enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Happiness ending in regret Aug. 12 2010
By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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 late 20s. In typical Hemingway fashion, he can make you feel as though you are right there in Paris, seeing what he saw, all the while describing it with sparse and plain prose.

There are many honest and unflattering sketches of other ex-pats Hemingway either knew or befriended whilst there, including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, and a shining description of the goodness Hemingway attributed to Ezra Pound.

This seems like the best time in Hemingway's life, when he and his truest love were poor and happy and in love, and they shared their little lives with their young son. But it ends with foreboding and tragedy, when Hemingway regretfully and painfully describes the lead up to his love affair with what was to become his second wife, and looking back, wishes the thing that he and Hadley had in Paris could have lasted forever. It could have, Hem.

For this reader, knowing already what was to come, even the joys of Paris Hemingway describes are flavoured with melancholy. While I can appreciate this work, it would be a stretch to say I really enjoyed it to any great extent. However, anyone with an ounce of imagination can learn a good deal about Paris in the years between the wars, and anyone with an ounce of humility can glean a good deal from Hemingway's character strengths and weaknesses.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best subway read ever May 16 2014
By cy.
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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. It's always interesting to read about his interactions and opinions of other literary stars like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Scott Fitzgerald.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Paris in the 20' April 5 2014
By bedi
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.

I thought it would be interesting to read Hemingways' point of view, this time, as opposed to Hadley's (Hemingway's first wife who shared with him the experience in Paris).

I loved his portraits of Pound, Scott Fitzgerald, Stein and other famous artists; I loved his embracing of European life style. In particular the reader senses the strong tender bond between Hemingway and Hadley, in spite their marriage ends up in diverce. Hemingway blames solely himself for it.

At times I found the book not so pleasant to read, as if the book has been put together by different hands. Is it because the book has been published after Hemingway's death?
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5.0 out of 5 stars An underpinning to many of his subsequent novels Feb. 18 2014
By KB
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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. I enjoyed his time in Paris which reflects a rich an interesting lifestyle of writers and poets. The narration was beautiful to listen to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book: Movable Feast Feb. 5 2014
By linda
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a great book, really gave the feel of Paris, brought me back to my visit to France with my sister in 2008, memories......
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Being Poor and Happy in Paris Dec 16 2009
Format:Paperback
This book is Hemingway's recollection of living in Paris as a young writer, including the period when he wrote "The Sun Also Rises". Don't expect this to be a nonfictional version of the aforementioned masterpiece, but rather approach this book as an insight into the beautiful life Hemingway lived while he was younger. Like any book which is set in Paris, expect plenty descriptions of walking through the various quarters, written with such style that Hemingway's laid-back and gratified approach to life feels like more than mere words on a page. For me the best part of the book was Hemingway's section on F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is interesting seeing one great writer's (humorous) perspective of another. The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that Hemingway alludes to many other interesting situations that he does not expand on, but still, the book is a very enjoyable recollection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the lucky ones Dec 7 2005
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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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