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Publisher's Summary

When Ernest Hemingway died in 1961 he had nearly completed A Moveable Feast, which eventually was published posthumously in 1964 and edited by his widow Mary Hemingway. This new special edition of Hemingway's classic memoir of his early years in Paris in the 1920's presents the original manuscript as the author intended it to be published at the time of his death.

This new publication also includes a number of unfinished Paris sketches on writing and experiences that Hemingway had with his son, Jack, his wife Hadley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford and others. A personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's sole surviving son, precedes an introduction by the editor, Sean Hemingway, grandson of the author.

©2009 the Hemingway Copyright Owners; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster, Inc

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Very interesting listen, great for an Ernest fan

I love Hemingway, while I haven't read everything he's done (something I've only the past few months started to work on), I decided that it was time to write the closest he ever came to an autobiography. I don't love everything about him as person (I'm more fascinated with his life than anything else) but he is certainly one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century and well deserving of the Pulitzer and Nobel prize that he received late in life. This book is the only way left to truly get to know him as person (except for what you can infer from many of his books but none so much as this one.) If you're interested in another of his unfinished books, you can read my review of "The Garden of Eden" here. As has been my preference this was an Audio book from Audible (a website I highly recommend). I chose the restored edition as I thought this would be closer to what Hemingway wanted. I had also read on a blog that a true Hemingway fan must read this, so I did.


Normally I wouldn't comment on a forward/introduction but here there are two that are worth a little discussion. This first one is by his son, Patrick. Patrick compares his father's work to the bible (in so much as there are different versions) and goes on to explain how tiny differences in writing can be significant. I would have thought he would have talked about his father, what he meant to him, what kind of man he was, what Paris meant to his Dad but no. It is wonderful that it's here but someone I would have done a lot differently. I just couldn't hear the love in his voice for his father and I am left to wonder how he truly felt about him. It is redeemed, though, by perhaps the most beautiful and saddest lines Hemingway ever wrote (and is genuinely haunting to hear read by his son)

"This book contains material from the remises of my memory and of my heart. Even if the one has been tampered with and the other does not exist."

Then we have Sean, his grandson, do an introduction. This one seems to brim with affection for a grandfather he never knew. This one is filled with information about what was left out and then subsequently put back in "A Moveable Feast". This was fascinating and Sean sounded like a great person who had a lot to say about his grandfather. I thought it was helpful to know which chapters were left out of the original publication and thus letting you know exactly how this was a restored edition. Sean also points out when Hemingway made obvious changes in the narrative about places and names, and explains why he did so.

Well as you can see this will be a very long review. This book is fascinating, sad, thoughtful, at times disturbing, useful to writers and ultimately a glimpse into both Hemingway as a young man in Paris (he was 25 I believe) and what he was like just before his death at 61. It is unusual because Hemingway himself clearly stated that he changed parts of the books, that it is technically fiction but yet I think it speaks volumes about him and his life as a young writer.

There are parts that are genuinely surprising, like when Hemingway talks about his paranoia with Gertrude Stein (he carried a knife at all times apparently) and had a rather uncomfortable discussion with her about the difference between gay men and women (in regards to how they have sex). Another time he is having dinner and casually compares the way the man with him drinks oyster juice (from an oyster of course) as that of a prostitute swallowing semen. Hemingway changes a few names and places but pulls no punches when he talks about people he didn't like.

I also quite enjoyed the parts when he discussed growing his hair, how it was a small act of rebellion and how he wanted it to be the same length as his wife's. This was a great tie-in for me as I just finished "The Garden of Eden" (which deals with the main character growing his hair) recently. He gives advice to writers and we learn of his writing habits. You also get the distinct impression that Hemingway loved his wives and that he felt regret and guilt over cheating on his wife Hadley.

There are moments that are quite funny with F. Scott Fitzgerald . The famous story (well I heard about it) of Scott asking Ernest to look at his penis is really quite funny and ultimately shows he good a friend Ernest was to him.

Others that are hard to listen to/read, as when he continually mixes of T.S. Elliot with this Major Elliot, why this was not fixed or taken out seems odd to me. He also has a very hate filled talk with a fan after he interrupts him while he is writing (I think he overacted, telling the man to kill himself!) and then finally gives up and says he will be a great critic. Finally other parts are just deeply sad, he talks about how writing is about the struggle with nothingness and how he thought a man could smell dishonest (he even describes the odor). It seems clear that Hemingway not only suffered from depression but may have also had been in the early stages of dementia (perhaps brought on my his shock treatments). Hemingway also gives us a glimpse about how he felt about getting older,

"His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless."


My apologies for such a long review, Hemingway would not have liked it but I had to. I'll add that many parts of the book need to be listened to quite closely. There is this habit of his where he seems to be speaking to his younger self and there is one chapter where this gets mixed up when he was also speaking to a dying friend. This review does need to end though, I'll start with due to language I would have to say ages 17+. If you are a writer or if you want to know the real Hemingway, read this. His descriptions of Paris are wonderful and his life in those early days is fascinating to learn about. I do recommend it, just keep an open mind and remember despite all the incredible things he did Hemingway was just a man, full of flaws and problems just as is anyone. While some parts are amazing, others are just so uncomfortable or sad but I still give the reader does a wonderful job, I think he speaks the way Hemingway himself would have and he puts a lot of emotion into every scene.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Bloviations, Calibrations

Published posthumously in 1964 (3 years after Papa died), this somewhat scattered memoir covers his years as a young writer living in Paris. You may already know the title comes from a passage in 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."

For most of the memoir, Hemingway was married to his 1st wife, Hadley, containing the poignant description that, “When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I had ever loved anyone but her." Of course, this was just prior to his leaving her for his next wife.

A MOVEABLE FEAST contains some wonderful tips for writers starting out and is a fascinating look at those heady days in Paris, with significant (sometimes overly nasty) parts covering, respectively, a friendly Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, a charismatic James Joyce, Gertrude Stein (whom Hemingway described as resembling a "Roman soldier"), Ford Madox Ford (who seemed to have been awfully foul-smelling) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (whose wife Zelda apparently made him remarkably self-conscious about the caliber of his reproductive equipment).

As Christopher Hitchens so aptly explained the continued fascination with this memoir, it's "an ur-text of the American enthrallment with Paris," "a skeleton key to the American literary fascination with Paris...." And it serves the nostalgia of Hemingway "at the end of his distraught days, as he saw again the 'City of Light' with his remaining life still ahead of him rather than so far behind."

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeffrey
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 09-13-13

Hmm, might try the original published version

Where does A Moveable Feast rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Toward the top -- say the top third.

What other book might you compare A Moveable Feast to and why?

It reminded me of other books from the times -- Huxley's Brave New World, the Great Gatsby, etc.

Which scene was your favorite?

When he talks about the scene with F Scott getting himself sick when they about to start an adventure

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A little too much of a good thing

Any additional comments?

If I had to do it over again I would try reading the original published version. the "extras" in this version felt tacked on and made the narrative seem disjointed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • G
  • Mobile, AL, United States
  • 11-22-11

Interesting Subject

I was truly amazed at "The Paris WIfe". For me "A Moveable Feast" added background and another view of the story of the people involved. The performance was excellent and in the end it was a favorite Hemmingway story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bergljot
  • Mosfellsbaer, Iceland
  • 09-25-09

Is it really a love story?

To begin with I found this book of limited interest, all these French names of streets and coffee houses sounded a bit pretentious and I didnt care much about Hemmingways tales of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound or James Joyce although I admit the stories of Scott Fitzgerald were amusing. However, after a while I started to sense an undercurrent running right through the book. And this was the love between Hemmingway and his first wife Hadley. They were indestructible, I think he says several times. And because they are so obviously content and happy a sense of foreboding creeps in (after all you know he married four times). And when the disaster strikes in one of final chapters (and this should have been the final chapter) it is heart-rending. It made me wonder if the remorse he felt didnt last all his life and not just until Hadley got married again. This background story made this book a great book after all.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

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40 years later...

A fictional depiction of Hadley as heroin. Slow easy listen with an interesting last chapter relating notes about the book, hand written by Hemingway.

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Great to finally hear the uncensored book!

Great to be able to read a book with all the censored parts included. I wish more publishers would make full copies of the books they heavily censored available.

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Rediscovering Hemingway

What made the experience of listening to A Moveable Feast the most enjoyable?

John Bedford Lloyd's performance matched Hemingway's writing. The insight of the characters that made up that greatest generation of writers America and the world has known.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It would have to be Hemingway and his various observations of the different writers and people he knew.

Which character – as performed by John Bedford Lloyd – was your favorite?

Hemingway. I learned more about the man and in some instances myself. Hemingway was not the man I thought he was - he was much better!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Near the end of the book when he discusses his marriage and breakup. His description of loving two women and the destruction of his marriage sounded very sad and desperate.

Any additional comments?

Having read Hemingway many years ago I put him away. I never read this book so I thought I would give it a listen. I am so glad that I did and I am now listening to For Whom The Bell Tolls. A Moveable Feast has become one of my favorites and I will be listening again.

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wonderful

great narration and great edition of this Hemmingway classic. give it a try and you won't regret it.

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Audio Sample Not Main Narrator

Not sure why the audio sample is of the forward, the main performer is fine, but different.

Other than that, great book!