A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway | Teen Ink

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway MAG

September 25, 2015
By vamika_s PLATINUM, Gaborone, Other
vamika_s PLATINUM, Gaborone, Other
39 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Colour my life with the chaos of trouble"

There are those who think Ernest Hemingway was a genius and I am not one of them. Unpopular opinion? Maybe. But it’s all a matter of taste. Just as with strawberries or wine, the question to ask is whether or not the flavour of the prose is palatable. To me, Hemingway’s sentences are disarmingly juiceless; I am unable to taste his words. However, although A Moveable Feast may be just as terse as Hemingway’s other works, it’s about something undeniably sweet – Paris in the twenties. And how can I resist that, juice or no juice?

See, I like to tell my friends that I have this romantic notion of being a writer, and my choice of drug (for all writers have a drug – an intangible muse of a feeling, substance or place) is Paris. Being an ardent Francophile, I want to swoon at the slightest mention of this city that is mapped most perfectly for romance, poetry, literature and art. And I unfailingly do. So even though Hemingway does not abandon his declarative, macho sentences in this book, he somehow still offers Paris a love-song of truth, elegant and strong and tender, enough to make me fall in love (again) with a city I’ve never been to. And that will always be admirable.

The book’s title itself is a close, bright star. Never have I come across a more unique metaphor for the City of Lights. Its source quote, daintily printed above the blurb, is what made me pick up the book – “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.” What can I say? Dear old Hemingway really knows how to make love with his words, to a woman or a city or a good wine. It does not matter which.

But my adoration for this piece of literature is still slippery. The book is cut in slices, each of these a luminous snapshot from Hemingway’s Parisian looking-glass. The vision, however, is never clear; it’s fleeting and often so simple that it blurs out of memory. It’s fragmentary. And I want more than that. Nevertheless, each slice (or chapter if you want to be conventional) spills bright and interesting information on the romanticised days of the Lost Generation. This era and its cluster of some of the most brilliant artists and intellectuals has been the subject of countless books, films and dinner discussions. But A Moveable Feast gives us an outlook from within, pouring out of the very throat of that time in history.

You discover that while F. Scott Fitzgerald was not constructing literary masterpieces, he was drunk in the most silly and childish fashion. Yes, drunk in a way that’s both endearing and embarrassing, so poor Hemingway has to carry him to bed. And you take a trip to Gertrude Stein’s rich, artful home and try to decide whether you like her or not, this formidable lady who says clever things but ‘does talk a lot of rot sometimes.’ You examine the anatomy of the sculptures in the Louvre in probably the most stupidly serious manner, alongside a worried Fitzgerald, and you visit Sylvia Beach at her infamous bookshop Shakespeare & Company, and desperately wish you could time-travel (but in the meantime, this book will do). And always, always, interspersed and laced in each day, you drink and talk at cafes, as all manner of characters dream and flutter like moths into your vision.

The sentences are simple, so simple, that I become bored and listless, (why are you saying that Hemingway?) and go get a cold drink (this actually happened). But I always come back, just as Paris always draws you in, its nectar nestled and hidden well within the flower of the city, and you the reader are a lazy bee.

But I like to put it this way – A Moveable Feast is a fine wine that tastes strange in its sips but leaves you warm and pleasantly drunk.

Hemingway’s experiences and thoughts may be recounted in a newspaper-smeared kind of prose in this book. But they are also the kind of prose that’s as close to poetry as you can get.  It’s hard to describe, certainly, but I’m choosing to make instead of describe here, just as ol’ Hemingway liked to. Unpopular approach? Maybe. But it’s all a matter of taste.

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