Sunday, 3 August 2014

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Enjoying the book with a
nice cup of coffee!
To continue the French theme from Paris in July I have read Hemingway's account on his early years in Paris. This is a continuation from The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and Hemingway, The Paris Years by Michael Reynolds. The will be others to follow in my quest to know more about 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.
Ernest Hemingway
to a friend, 1950

The book was not published during Hemingway's lifetime. His fourth wife and widow, Mary Hemingway, edited it from his manuscripts and notes. It was published posthumously in 1964, three year's after his death. 


It is a fantastic little book. It is only 182 pages in a pocket book, but it says it all. You know that it is his memories from his time in Paris, but it could as well be some of his short stories. It contains 20 chapters, and each chapter tells a story of how it was to live in Paris, of his writing ambition, of his friends, many of them famous, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Scott Fitzgerald. It is not a memoir but remembrances. As is says above, to be young and to be able to live in Paris is something that many people would have liked to do. Although times were hard before he had his breakthrough, the books tells of the love he feels for Paris. It is an older man's memories of when he was young, more careless times when one took the day as it came. 

Well written as everything he writes. The last chapter tells about the lovely times he and Hadley had in Schruns in Austria. This is the beginning to the end since another woman came into his life. Here a quote from the end of the book:

"It was necessary that I leave Schruns and go to New York to rearrange publishers. I did my business in New York and when I got back to Paris I should have caught the first train from the Gare de l'Est that would take me down to Austria. But the girl I was in love with was in Paris then, and I did not take the first train, or the second or the third.
When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her. She was smiling, the sun on her lovely face tanned by the snow and sun, beautifully built, her hair red gold in the sun, grown out all winter awkwardly and beautifully, and Mr Bumbly standing with her, blond and chunky and with winter cheeks looking like a good Vorarlberg boy.
'Oh Tatie,' she said, when I was holding her in my arms, 'you're back, and you made such a fine successful trip. I love you and we've missed you so.'
I loved her and I loved no one else and we had a lovely magic time when we were alone. I worked well and we made great trips, and I thought we were invulnerable again, and it wasn't until we were out of the mountains in late spring, and back in Paris that the other thing started again.
That was the end of the first part of Paris. Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed. We never went back to the Vorarlberg and neither did the rich.
There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy." 

Beautiful memories, beautiful prose and an eternal love for Paris. 



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