Sharon Hsieh reccomends Hemingway for Impact’s book of the month! Just like Ernest Hemingway’s image and legacy, the style of A Moveable Feast (1964) is simplistic, straightforward and very much masculine. But don’t hold it against the book just yet; A Moveable Feast is also deeply honest and personal.
Full of nostalgia for a city which only exists in his memory, and the remembrance of people no longer in his life, the essay collection gives a heartfelt eulogy to those he has lost. In the twenty essays included in the collection, we see that Hemingway wandered through different parts of Paris and even larger French and European regions in the 1920s.
A young and somewhat impoverished writer who had just left journalism to pursue a literary career, he had little means to support an extravagant life. Yet the young Hemingway managed to capture and enjoy the small pleasure brought by a cup of ordinary coffee or a glass of wine. He ate, drank and enjoyed the never-ending banquet in a foreign city.
Traces of Hemingway’s retrospectives of this life of excess can be found everywhere in the collection
However, this lifestyle was obviously not without consequences. Traces of Hemingway’s retrospectives of this life of excess can be found everywhere in the collection, in explanation for what he deemed enjoyment at the time and might viewed as alcoholism later. At the (hopefully) end of a painfully long lockdown, we certainly can identify with Hemingway’s sentiments and nostalgia for a free and seemingly consequence-free life.
Many of the most renowned figures of Lost Generation, or as Hemingway himself termed it in one of his essay titles, ‘Une Génération Perdue’, have appeared in Hemingway’s recollections alongside the anonymised ones.
We see Hemingway’s unreserved assertiveness and occasional masculine gentleness in his tributes to his time with Gertrude Stein
We see Hemingway’s unreserved assertiveness and occasional masculine gentleness in his tributes to his time with Gertrude Stein. His comments on her homosexuality and lifestyle are obviously and self-consciously out-of-date, presumably even at the time published. It almost reveals some of the writer’s subtle intentions to present an account in his defence of the lifestyle and ideology of a bygone era.
His admiration and respects for Ezra Pound and James Joyce are not only heart-warming, but also gives the reader a glimpse of Hemingway’s mind-set as an obscure young writer. He shares with us his special bond with Scott Fitzgerald, his slight digs at the Fitzgerald’s debauchery and flamboyant lifestyle, and his contempt for Zelda’s damage on Scott’s literary career. Although the posterity may have different views on the Fitzgerald’s marital status and Zelda’s agency as a writer and a wife, we are given the permission to have a peak of Hemingway’s philosophy on life and gender through his description of the couple, whether we’d agree with him or not.
In a city that seemed to host an unending party and a circle full of promising and talented artists, it is curious how Hemingway reminisced those who had never left a trace in literary history
We also see in Hemingway’s remembrance, that under the glory of Lost Generation, there are countless of their contemporaries buried in either mediocrity or unfortunateness. In a city that seemed to host an unending party and a circle full of promising and talented artists, it is curious how Hemingway reminisced those who had never left a trace in literary history.
A Moveable Feast is a love letter for the writer’s own nostalgia, and a eulogy for a long-gone time with remarkable people
A Moveable Feast is a love letter for the writer’s own nostalgia, and a eulogy for a long-gone time with remarkable people. It also gives us means to express unspoken wistfulness and mourning for loss in a time with no certainty or assurance.
If you’d like to see the visualization of this literary golden age, Woody Allen’s (another artist who is not without controversies) Midnight in Paris (2011) has apparently based many characterizations of historical figures on A Moveable Feast’s description. Many sparkles can be generated from the intertextual comparisons and how we perceive a re-imagined world which already has retrospective elements.
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