A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A memoir with an unusual history.

Genre: Memoir
⭐️ Stars from Goodreads: 4.04
⭐️ Stars from me: 5

A Moveable Feast has a complicated history. There are two editions, each corrected by relatives from Hemingway’s different marriages. Thus, the first edition was published in 1964 by his fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, who was accused by some scholars of taking parts out of the manuscript. Those were the parts about Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson where he spoke about her kindly and apologized to her. The second edition was issued in 2009 by Seán Hemingway, Hemingway’s grandson from his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer. Seán was blamed for taking out the parts that spoke unkindly about Hemingway’s second wife, Seán’s grandmother.

The chapters also changed places in the book, some added, some merged. The sad thing is, we cannot know what the book would look like had it been published while Hemingway was still alive. Both editions were published posthumously.

Despite so many manipulations of suspicious motives the book turned out to be the only one carrying Hemingway’s voice so clearly. It’s hard to say if it is the effect of writing in the second person “you” (as in “you would notice”, “you would feel”) or the power of some magic he used but the book really transports you to those times and those places, putting you directly beside Hemingway himself. You go to the same places, you eat in the same cafes, drink a lot of wine together and smell roasted chestnuts in cold Parisian air. You get introduced to the Fitzgeralds. Yes, to both of them, the husband and wife. The wife, apparently, was a very interesting person too. You meet Gertrude Stein. You meet all those famous, striking people before they turned into bland black-and-white photos on the covers of their books. You see them as they were in life, or at least the way Hemingway saw them. This is an unforgettable experience.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know” Hemingway said in A Moveable Feast. And it became his truest book.

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