Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”

Back some twenty years ago the wonderful Joan Didion wrote an article in the New Yorker about Ernest Hemingway and the commercialization of his material that he never felt was ready for publication in his lifetime, but publishers and those in charge of his estate had no problem publishing and, worse, had other writers finish novels that Hemingway started and never finished. After reading that piece, I never read another novel by Hemingway published after his death, except of course for “A Moveable Feast.”

I had read “A Moveable Feast” a number of times before reading this article and never once did I doubt that every word in that amazing memoir about Paris in the 1920’s was all Hemingway. Recently, I received as a gift a restored edition of Hemingway’s classic and my first instinct was simply to read the first nineteen stories which made up the original book published three years after his death in 1964, and to skip the other stories which seem to have magically appeared after 40 years.
A Hemingway enthusiast, like myself, swore to me that he had read the restored edition and he had no doubt that the new stories were definitely Hemingway, all Hemingway. Reluctantly, I gave in and read the additional stories and to my surprise, I had to agree with my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed them and they were most definitely all Hemingway.
“A Moveable Feast” is truly one of the outstanding memoirs written by any writer. The stories involve some of the most famous writers and personalities of the 20th century … Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford, Gertrude Stein, and Sylvia Beach yet at the very heart of all these stories is Hemingway’s undying love and remorse at leaving his first wife Hadley. She is the heroine at the heart of this wonderful collection and Hemingway makes that perfectly clear.
It is impossible to read many of these stories without shedding tears. It is as truthful and honest as anything I have read, and there was nothing more important to Hemingway as a writer than honesty.

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