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A Literary Bullfight...

 
 

Hemingway and His Wives!

   

 

  

 

"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 

 

A literary brouhaha erupted recently over a new 'Restored Edition' of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, just released by Scribner.  The literary memoir was first published posthumously in 1964, but this new edition has been amended by Hemingway's grandson Seán, who apparently did not like that the original manuscript (which he says was tampered with by Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary), portrayed his grandmother (Hemingway's second wife, Hadley) in an unflattering manner.  Hemingway's friend, A. E. Hotchner, recently weighed in and takes on the grandson in a New York Times op-ed, and the title of his piece Don't Touch 'A Moveable Feast' says it all (he is, of course, talking about the reworked edition!) and he avers that Ernest Hemingway was completely involved with the book even though he died before it was actually published. 

 

We picked up the 'original' edition, and had a marvelous time rereading it.  A Moveable Feast records Hemingway's years in Paris as a young man.  La Ville-Lumière in the 1920's was glittering fertile ground for writers, home to The Lost Generation, a group of expatriate Americans who included Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, and Hemingway.  Gertrude Stein held court with her companion Alice B. Toklas in their art-filled home.  Hemingway recounts it all in a series of beautifully-spare sketches.  In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway is an industrious and meticulous writer who repairs to a favorite café, the Closerie des Lilas, to write.  For English-language books there was Sylvia Beach's lending library and bookshop, the legendary Shakespeare & Co.  Beach, part shopkeeper-part Medici, not only lent the impoverished Hemingway books before he could afford the deposit, but also money when the young writer needed it.  He praises her saying, "...no one that I ever knew was nicer to me."

 

The author is at his literary best here in this memoir, writing it as he did later in life: the prose is crystalline and constructed, surer and somehow less hampered by the famous skittishness about using adjectives, and even the acid portraits of other writers are classic Hemingway.  eCognoscente says stay with the original….after all Hemingway ended his 1960 preface to the memoir by saying: If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always a chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact….

 

Read: A Moveable Feast

Tags: paris


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