Saturday, February 3, 2007

Hemingway - A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast. Ernest Hemingway. Bantam Books,1964. It was once remarked that Hemingway had written about Michigan, about Spain, Africa, and Cuba, but never (except for the first part of The Sun Also Rises) about Paris, the city which had been so important to him and his early career. Hemingway decided to cover this lack by writing A Moveable Feast. Each chapter in this collection of stories is a vivid peek inside Hemingway's experience of Paris in the 20's. Each story is a perfect gem, not a word wasted. These stories are Hemingway at his best. He refers to real events, and usually the participants are mentioned by their actual names. His portraits are not always kind, but remember Hemingway is not intending biography here; we need not, for example, believe Fitzgerald was exactly as Hemingway portrays him. But always in these stories is a great affection for the people, the times, and especially for Paris.
Hemingway began this collection in 1957, and worked on it intermittently until his death in 1961. In 1954, while in Africa, he was severely injured in a plane crash. The rescue plane then crashed en route to hospital. While undergoing treatment, he suffered kidney and liver infections. While still in hospital, there was a brush fire nearby. Hemingway left his bed to help fight the fire. But he collapsed and suffered smoke inhalation damage, and aggravated his other injuries. Hemingway never completely recovered from this ordeal. His health would continue to decline over the years. It was under these conditions that his mind turned to the past, to his years in Paris, his first marriage, the early struggle to write, the cafes, the sports, the curious events, and his friends of those days.

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