Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast is Ernest Hemingway's first-person account of his years as a beginning, struggling writer in Paris of the 1920s. Written in the 1950s, this memoir provides a glimpse into the lives of the expatriates of the Lost Generation. With stories about Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and others, Hemingway reveals his thoughts and feelings about the people who affected his life at this time. Through his honest, often biting, portrayal of fellow writers in Paris, he offers an analysis of the talents and individual characteristics of those who would later make such an impact on British and American literature.
On a personal level, Hemingway recounts his marriage to his first wife, Hadley, leading up to the time of his affair with his second wife, Pauline, and the birth and early years of his son, “Bumpy.” Hemingway speaks of the cafés he frequented, the quiet spots that provided the atmosphere as he wrote his first stories after his departure from journalism. Hemingway also reflects on his own faults that led to the disintegration of his marriage, expressing his continued love and concern for Hadley. Hemingway’s vulnerability is apparent throughout the memoir, and it is a sharp contrast to the tough man of adventure that has come to be the usual presentation of him.
Though the work should be read with the critical eye necessary for the memoir of a man who could be self-justifying, A Moveable Feast is a valuable picture of Hemingway and the exciting days of the literati of Paris who would come to be known as the Lost Generation.
Summary and Analysis
Summary and Analysis Chapter 1
Ernest Hemingway begins his memoirs of his years in Paris by describing the most negative parts of the city. At the beginning of his story, the winter rains are beginning. All of a sudden autumn was over, and Paris would sink into a depressing sodden mass. Representative of this bleary side of the City of Lights is the Café des Amateurs off the Place Contrescarpe; Hemingway has rented a room in a nearby hotel where he can write. The Café is inhabited by the lowest of the citizens of Paris: drunkards and alcoholics, miserable people who stay drunk out of the depths of their despair. Hemingway describes it as the “cesspool of the rue Moufretard,” a street that leads into the Place Contrescarpe.
The dwelling places in this district are mostly slum-like apartment houses with primitive sanitary conditions, mere holes in the floor that lead down to a tank which is emptied each day by a lorry that reminds Hemingway of the “earthy” browns and yellows of a Braque painting. But while the tanks can be emptied, the “cesspool” of the Café cannot.
Hemingway describes the walk to his hotel workplace, examining the skyline on this cold day for signs of smoke that will indicate that it is worth the trouble to light a fire in his room. It is not, so he proceeds to another, better patronized café on the Place St.-Michel. As Hemingway moves from the Place Contrescarpe to the Place St.-Michel, his vision of Paris also changes. In this section of the city, there is more sheer comfort and pleasantness. He settles down for a day of writing, accompanied by a drink of rum high quality St. James rum.
Hemingway’s attention is not entirely settled on his writing. He notices a beautiful girl in that café, alone and obviously waiting for someone. He notices the freshness of her face and the style of her black hair. Sensually excited, he is also desirous of finding some way to put her into the story he is writing.
The story Hemingway is writing is one he describes as “writing itself,” and he confesses a difficulty in keeping up with it. He pauses, considering the pretty girl one more time, then manages to regain control of his story and sinks into the writing experience. When he finishes, he looks up and notices the girl is gone. He feels a vague sense of sadness, yet also satisfaction, at the completion of his story, and puts off rereading it to make a final judgment until...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 2 and 3
On his return to Paris, Hemingway finds the city has adjusted to the winter weather. He sees beauty now in the naked trees and the crisp, cold outdoors on the streets and in the gardens. There is comfort in the warmth of indoors, not the claustrophobic feeling that he conveyed in the first chapter. He works in his hotel room, which is not so miserable as it was before his trip to the mountains. There he also struggles successfully to write a new story. All he has to do, he states, is write “one true sentence,” and all the rest will follow.
Hemingway then goes into detail about his new friendship with Gertrude Stein, a fellow American expatriate who, along with her companion Alice B. Toklas (whom Hemingway does not name), has created an artistic gallery in their apartments. Hemingway and Hadley, having met them in the park, are invited to their salon and immediately make a connection with Stein and her partner. Thus Hemingway begins one of his strong, intellectual, literary friendships. Stein encourages Hemingway to eventually move away from journalism to fiction, with which Hemingway emphatically agrees.
Stein and Hemingway enter into a conversation about sex, specifically homosexuality, which Hemingway finds disgusting. He relates his previous experiences with aggressive homosexuals in his travels, as a child and again as a young man in Kansas City and Chicago. He also regrets discovering the sexual orientation of an old man “with lovely manners” he met during his hospital stay in Italy during World War I. Stein categorizes homosexuals into two groups: the “perverts” (such as the criminals he encountered in big cities) and the merely sad (such as the old man in Italy). To Stein, male homosexuality in itself is repulsive, unlike female homosexuality (Stein herself was a lesbian), which is presented as having a certain freedom from all that is disgusting. This double standard is not something with which Hemingway can agree, but he remains friends with Stein despite her sexuality.
Another close friend and mentor that Hemingway makes in Paris is Sylvia Beach, owner and proprietor of Shakespeare and Company, a library and bookstore frequently visited by other expatriates. When he first visits the shop, he does not have enough money on...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 4 and 5
Hemingway describes walking on the quais along the Seine River in Paris. The buildings are a mixture of the beautiful and the utilitarian. Most interesting to Hemingway is the Tour D’Argent restaurant, not so much for its food but for its bookstall. There are rooms for rent above the restaurant and people regularly leave behind books, which the proprietress then sells. Hemingway occasionally finds a good book there and tries to convince the proprietress to save the books in English for him, but she refuses due mostly to his irregular visits. She is afraid to be left holding worthless books because she has serious doubts about the quality of books written in English. To her, a book is valuable if it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye—a good cover, pleasant pictures and illustrations, a solid binding. The contents of the book are not what gives it value, she believes.
Hemingway enjoys watching the fishermen along the Seine who sell their catches to nearby restaurants. Though it is believed that the fishermen along the Seine are crazy and never catch anything, Hemingway enjoys taking a day off to watch. He himself does not fish because at that time he had no fishing tackle. Plus, he was afraid he would become too involved in fishing and then never get any work done. He never feels lonely along the Seine and enjoys seeing the approach of spring in all the trees. Occasionally spring seems to come early, but then retreats. Hemingway speaks of the fear of its never returning, but always it does.
Paris has a touch of the countryside, as Hemingway describes it, with a goatherd roaming the streets in the early morning hours selling goat milk. Hemingway hears the woman who lives in the floor above go down to buy some. With that, Hemingway decides to go for a racing paper. He and Hadley debate whether or not they have enough money to go to the races (they decide that, despite all that they cannot afford, they do have enough to go). They have some luck at the track and feel justified in coming to the races after all. On the way home, the couple stops at the Arc du Carrousel in the Tuileries and discuss whether that arch, the Arc du Triomphe, and the Sermione in Milano truly line up as is reported. They discuss Chink, a friend of Hermingway’s from his war days in Italy, and whether he will come to visit them. The couple then goes to a small restaurant for dinner and discuss whether their previous...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 6 and 7
Hemingway finally admits that the racetrack has taken over his life. Rather than pretending that it is just “racing,” he faces that it is in fact the gambling that he is obsessed with—gambling with money that he cannot really afford to waste. He mentions that Hadley enjoyed it but did not love it as Hemingway did. He hints that even though racing never came between them, it did become personified as a lover that was destroying their marriage ever so subtly. He attempts to justify his time spent at the track by writing about it, but (as he foreshadows) those stories would be eventually lost, just as the time and the money spent on gambling was. He meets a friend, Mike Ward, for lunch and they discuss the horse races. Mike encourages Hemingway to give them up and tells him that he should go to the bicycle races. These races provided the same thrill but did not serve as a basis for gambling. Hemingway eventually goes and immediately falls in love with them, the noise and excitement and the swiftness of the bicycles. He speaks of the different kinds of races that formed such an important part of the French sport scene. For the first time he mentions Pauline, his second wife, for whom he left Hadley. Yet both Pauline and the intensity of the bike races belong to a later Paris.
Hemingway becomes an even more frequent visitor at 27 rue de Fleurus, the residence of Gertrude Stein. He always makes a point of stopping by each time he returns from a trip, to share with her some of the incidents and stories that he picked up. Hemingway tries to get Stein to talk about books, of which she is quite knowledgeable but with her own particular tastes. She will not discuss James Joyce (in whom Hemingway is most interested), and in fact, if a visitor tries to talk about him more than once, he is not invited back. He tries to talk about Aldous Huxley, but Stein proclaims him “a dead man.” She stresses to Hemingway that he must read great books or very bad books. The worst thing he can read is a mediocre book. Stein’s literary passion at the moment is Sherwood Anderson, of whom Hemingway has little interest.
Hemingway explains the origins of the term “the lost generation.” Stein had taken her car to be repaired and it was being fixed very unsatisfactorily. The patron (manager) of the auto shop cursed the young repairman, called him part of “une generation perdue” (a lost generation). Stein picks up...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 8 and 9
When Hemingway gave up writing journalism to concentrate on writing fiction, he gave up a significant portion of his income. It had reached the point that he was even skipping meals, telling Hadley that he was dining with friends, when in actuality he was not eating at all so as to leave more food for her. He reflects on the effect of hunger on artists such as Cezanne, driving them to further heights of creativity. He endeavors to let his hunger do the same for him, avoiding place where the smell of food could distract him as he wrote. Sylvia Beach, however, has an inkling that he is hungry. He pleads that he was merely concentrating on his work, but she sees through him. Compassionately, she does not reveal her insight, but merely invites him and Hadley to dinner. She hands him a note in which there is money in payment for a story he sent to Germany.
Hemingway is amazed that the only place where he can sell his fiction is in Germany. America is not interested in his writing. On walking home, Hemingway is ashamed for complaining. He speaks of the stories, manuscripts, and carbon copies that he lost when Hadley was bringing them to him in Lausanne. Someone had stolen them from the train. Hemingway tries not to regret the loss, but to move on. He contemplates writing a novel. He feels overwhelmed at the prospect, at a time when he is struggling to finish paragraphs.
Hemingway once again turns to his critique of Paris cafés, in this case the Closerie des Lilas. It is a place where poets once gathered, though Hemingway encountered only one, Blaise Cendrars. Otherwise it is frequented by war veterans, with their empty sleeves and pant legs. It is a point at which these men can gather without feeling “on display.”
It was also there that Hemingway describes an encounter with Ford Madox Ford, of whom he obviously has a very low opinion. Besides his disagreeable odor, Ford is an obnoxious individual who automatically argues with every opinion or statement by his companion. He has very strong opinions of his own on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately he cannot remember his own opinion long enough to last a single conversation. He will criticize something, like Hemingway’s drinking of brandy, as unsuitable for a writer, and then turn around and order a brandy himself. In fact, the brandy that Hemingway had been drinking was one that Ford had originally ordered and then denied ordering,...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 10 and 11
In the evening Hemingway walks the streets, stopping by several cafés and restaurants. He knows several people in them, and he comments how the people he does not know always seem to be “nicer looking.” The people he likes, he states, go to the larger cafés so that they can be lost in them, going unnoticed, either alone or in the company of someone else. On this evening, Hemingway is feeling virtuous, having worked hard all day and having avoided going to the races. He speaks of his poverty, stating that Paris is very cheap and so one can live in it on almost nothing and still have some money for luxuries, if one saved. At this time, he could not go to the races, though it is possible to make money there. This was at a time before regulation when horses were drugged and other methods were used that would afterwards be illegal. If one visited the stables, one could detect which horses had been “doctored” and so make a bet that was close to a sure thing. But even this was beyond Hemingway’s means at the moment.
Hemingway goes to the Dome, another gathering place of artists. There he meets the artist Pascin, who is in the company of two sisters (one blond, one brunette) who work as his models, among other things. Pascin offers one of the sisters to Hemingway to “bang.” Hemingway declines. Pascin continues to push, but Hemingway is then left on the fringe as Pascin and the sisters continue their ribald conversation. Pascin evidently has been working hard all day, both on painting and on the sisters. Later Hemingway comments that he liked to remember Pascin as he was that evening, full of life. Later Pascin committed suicide.
Hemingway’s friendship with Ezra Pound was genuine. He has great admiration for Pound, describing his as “a good friend and he was always doing things for people.” Pound has an intense loyalty to his friends, which Hemingway may have felt impeded his judgment in regards to critiquing their work. Hemingway thought of him as a kind of saint.
Pound wants Hemingway to teach him how to box. Pound had previously learned to fence, and it is with this that Hemingway begins to teach him some boxing moves, without complete success. Hemingway states that he was never able to get Pound to throw a left hook. While they were having their boxing lesson, the writer and painter Wyndham Lewis arrives,...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 12 and 13
Hemingway details the end of his close friendship with Gertrude Stein. He clearly regrets the loss of her friendship. He had helped her get her book serialized with Ford Madox Ford in his magazine, and also helped type and proofread her manuscript. Yet he generalizes that there is no future in a friendship between a man and a great woman.
Hemingway had been unsure about the extent of his welcome at Stein’s apartment, but she told him to drop in any time. He was reluctant to take advantage of this, feeling uncomfortable if she was not present. Yet one time he did show up unannounced and overheard Stein pleading with someone: “Don’t, pussy. Don’t. Don’t, please don’t. I’ll do anything, pussy, but please don’t do it. Please don’t. Please don’t, pussy.” Feeling acutely uncomfortable, Hemingway excused himself with the maidservant, telling her to tell Stein that she had met him in the courtyard rather than in the apartment and to wish her good luck on her upcoming trip. And that was the end. He no longer enjoyed his time at 27 rue de Fleurus, though he would show up to introduce friends at Stein’s request. But he never again had the camaraderie that he had before. It seemed to him that Stein became more argumentative with everyone, old friends and new. Eventually, everyone drifted away for a time, but afterwards returned. But to Hemingway it was never the same. He could not feel the same friendship as he had before the incident of hearing Gertrude Stein beg.
Hemingway encounters Ernest Walsh, the poet and magazine editor, in Ezra Pound’s studio. Walsh was accompanied by two young girls. The girls strike up a conversation with Hemingway, trying to impress him with the poetic talent (and the money to be made with it) of Walsh by stating that he received twelve hundred dollars from Poetry magazine for several poems. Hemingway is doubtful of this, since he himself received only twelve dollars per page from the same magazine. The girls try to convince Hemingway to show them more of the café life. He writes down their names and numbers, but it is doubtful he will follow up, no matter how much he promises he will.
Hemingway later hears that Walsh became co-editor of a magazine that is conducting a prize for the best literary work. When Walsh has lunch with Hemingway, he promises him that he will win the prize. Hemingway takes that with a grain of salt, and in...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 14 and 15
Hemingway reflects on classic literature. Though he has been told that New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield is good at short stories, he finds her flat after reading Chekhov. Even Chekhov’s writing was a mixed bag. Sometimes, according to Hemingway, he writes journalism, and other times he has wonderful stories. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky astound Hemingway, though he is occasionally unsure why. It may be terrible writing but wonderful descriptions, especially about war. In speaking about these writers to Ezra Pound, Hemingway is nonplussed to find that Pound has never read any of the “Rooshians” (Russians). Because of Pound’s unfamiliarity with Russian literature, Hemingway feels sorry for him and somehow disappointed in someone in whom he placed so much trust.
On returning home he discovers that the poet Evan Shipman is waiting for him. Hemingway is concerned that he is not dressed warmly enough, but Shipman is indifferent. His coat is “somewhere.” They begin to discuss the Russian writers. The two men discuss whether or not the difference is in the translators rather than the original writers themselves. As for Dostoyevsky, Shipman believes that he can write only about “shits or saints.” Hemingway regrets that, while he enjoys reading Dostoyevsky, he cannot reread him.
The two men discuss the two waiters in the café, who are being forced to shave off their mustaches and change their manner of serving under the new management. Shipman and Hemingway are disturbed by this, especially about the mustaches. The mustaches are symbols of their service in the dragoon’s regiment. Hemingway encourages Jean, one of the waiters, not to do it. When he returns the next time, Hemingway finds that Andre, the other waiter, has indeed shaved off his mustache.
In contrast to Shipman, Hemingway describes an acquaintance, the poet Ralph Cheever Dunning. Ezra Pound was going away on a trip and left a jar of opium with Hemingway to give to Dunning “only when he needs it.” At one point Pound calls Hemingway to come because Dunning is dying, but Hemingway convinces him that, though the poet is skeletal, he is too lucid to be dying. Another day, Hemingway received a message that Dunning had climbed on top of the...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 16 and 17
At this time, Hemingway’s son, “Bumpy,” has been born. The justification for leaving Paris for the mountains at this time is to protect the baby from the cold and the weather in the city. Hemingway himself spends much time in the cafés, working and keeping warm. Hadley goes to play the piano in an unspecified “cold place,” leaving the baby at home along with the cat. Since there are not babysitters at the time, the Hemingways simply let the baby sleep alone in his bed, claiming that the cat offered adequate protection against anyone bothering him. Hemingway dismisses the idea that cats were dangerous to babies, either through sucking their breath or in lying on top of them and smothering them. The baby, according to Hemingway, was exceptionally good, never crying or fussing, seemingly happy in any circumstance in which he is placed.
The Hemingways spend the colder winter months skiing in Schruns in Austria. The hotel is warm and relatively cheap, Austria not struck with the severe inflation that Germany was during the 1920s prior to the worldwide economic depression that was to come. The skiing there is primitive, with no ski lifts or funiculars to take skiers to the top of the ski runs. There are no ski patrols and amazingly few broken bones. Hemingway says that before this trip, when Hadley was pregnant, she was given permission to go skiing if Hemingway promised that she would not fall. Hemingway is confident that he could make sure she did not.
The food and wine in Schruns are excellent, and Hemingway indulges in playing poker, though gambling was illegal in Austria at the time. The local people thought that the tourists were “foreign devils,” and there was a great deal of mistrust, which does not seem to bother Hemingway. The only drawback to the trip is the report of numerous deaths in avalanches.
On reflection, Hemingway looks back with great fondness on this winter, as well as with great regret, since his marriage would fall apart the following year. He makes sure that Hadley receives no blame. He takes most of that on himself and, by implication, on Pauline, with whom he would commence an affair. He rejoices that, after their divorce, Hadley remarried a man who was worthy of her. This remarriage was the “one good and lasting thing that came of that year.”
Hemingway’s friendship with F. Scott Fitzgerald is problematic, according to...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 18 and 19
Fitzgerald’s drinking prevents him from doing any effective writing, so he avoids drinking when he has work to do. He painfully struggles to come up with anything of any worth, so the alcohol is strenuously avoided as much as he can help it. His wife, Zelda, however, drinks and pressures Fitzgerald to do so and to party more than he wants to. She claims that he wants to spoil her fun, so Fitzgerald often feels obligated to join her. Fitzgerald tells Hemingway that Zelda had once fallen in love with a French pilot, so he is very jealous and desperate to please her. On her part, Zelda is jealous of Fitzgerald’s writing, both of its success and the time he spent on it. Hemingway encourages him to ignore Zelda’s manipulations and damaging remarks and to concentrate on his writing. Fitzgerald is working on a novel, but his serious works do not sell, so he writes short stories that are aimed at being marketable rather than great. And still Fitzgerald drinks. He begins to be rude to people, to his inferiors and those whom he held to be inferior. The times when he is sober become fewer and fewer, yet still Hemingway retains their friendship, saying that no one is a greater friend to him than Fitzgerald when he is sober.
Hemingway is in the middle of writing The Sun Also Rises, and Fitzgerald wants to see it. Hemingway, however, refuses, stating that it is not ready to be seen before extensive editing. It is only after his trip to his editors in New York and then finishing the book in the Alps that he lets Fitzgerald see it. At this point, Fitzgerald was pulling in more money, especially from selling movie rights to The Great Gatsby. Zelda was happy, and the parties continued. But Zelda is clearly beginning to lose her sanity, commenting to Hemingway that Al Jolson was greater than Jesus. Hemingway sees this as the beginning of the end.
In a moment of intense self-doubt, Fitzgerald asks Hemingway to be perfectly honest with him about something. He seems reluctant to say it, but eventually he confesses that Zelda teases him about the size of his penis. She says that he could never please any woman. Since then, Fitzgerald has been very insecure. So he wants Hemingway to look at his penis and to tell him the truth about the size. Hemingway reluctantly does so and...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 20 and 21
Hemingway describes his work in a café, writing a story in the midst of the chaos of a business. He relies on luck, in this case his lucky rabbit’s foot. Some days the writing goes well, so well that he is actually drawn into the story he is creating. But on this occasion he is interrupted by someone (an unidentified person simply called Harold) whom he obviously does not care for. He admits that he has a short temper concerning interruptions of his work. He blatantly tells the intruder to get lost. Harold, however, does not get the “hint,” or even the outright command. Hemingway considers going to some other café, but he has set up shop in this one and does not like to start all over in a different place. Hemingway doggedly continues to write as Harold doggedly continues to talk. Harold, it turns out, wants to be a writer, but he has not talent. He is asking Hemingway to help him, but Hemingway refuses to be drawn in. Since Harold is obviously a gifted talker, Hemingway suggests he become a literary critic. Harold is intrigued with the idea. Hemingway mentions, however, that he did not become a famous critic. Hemingway goes on with his work, but the café is compromised. He tries to write at home as he is babysitting his son. He finds that he can write just as well there as in the café.
His friend Ezra Pound wants to start a financial aid program, the Bel Esprit, for a friend of his, T. S. Eliot. Eliot is working in a bank but is trying to break into writing. Pound wants him to leave the bank so that he can concentrate on his art, and so he creates a money pool among his friends. Also involved in this project is a rich American woman named Natalie Barney, who has a salon in Paris, complete with a small Greek temple in her garden. Before they can gather enough money for him to leave the bank to write full-time, Eliot has The Waste Land published, which brings him sufficient financial and literary success. Hemingway regrets that the Bel Esprit could not have a more direct involvement in Eliot’s success, but he is glad of the success anyway, even though he kept calling him “Major” Eliot, giving the impression that Eliot was some impoverished former military man who for some reason lost his pension. But in the end, Hemingway is glad of the Bel Esprit, since they use the money later to go to Spain.
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 22 and 23
Hemingway speaks of the difficulties of writing in the first person. The main problem is that readers believe that the experiences he is recording actually happened to him as the writer. Hemingway admits that sometimes he himself will believe that he actually experienced those events, since he has to put himself into the place of the narrator. His writing is so intense that he actually lives out the experiences in his mind and has trouble identifying what is real and what is fiction. He would also use his own actual experiences, as well as the experiences of others, in order to make his writing seem alive. The people he met in Italy, especially during the war, provided much material for his future writing. He uses the experiences of an Italian friend he met in Milano, who had come from the United States and volunteered when Italy came into the war. He also knew some people in the British army and the ambulance service, whose experiences he will also use in his stories.
One of the “secret pleasures” that Hemingway shares with his wife is growing his hair to match the length of hers so that they may have identical hairy styles. Many of his acquaintances in Paris at the time believed he was growing his hair out to fit the “Bohemian” lifestyle and persona that was prevalent there at the time. Then he would cut his hair out of frustration at being misunderstood, and people would compliment him in looking “fit.” He does not like the fact that people interfered with his life “for his own good.”
Once Hemingway gave up newspaper work, he really wanted to be a free person, along with Hadley, and not have to worry about his appearance when he went on assignments. It was at this time that the two came up with the plan for Hemingway to grow his hair long so that they would have the same hair styles. Hemingway is frustrated by how long it takes to grow his hair, but Hadley continues to encourage him. She even goes to the lengths of having her hair cut shorter to more evenly match his as his hair grows. She would get it cut one inch shorter each time she went to the beautician’s until their hair length matched. This becomes an avenue to a greater passion between the two in a sensual way. It is a secret that the two share, one that would make no sense to anyone else. When they go to Schruns in Austria, Hemingway is talked into buying a bottle of hair tonic to make his hair grow faster. He fears...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 24 and 25
Hemingway becomes connected to a “Negro” heavyweight boxer from Canada by the name of Larry Gains. On his return from a trip, Hemingway found a letter from an acquaintance on the editorial staff of the Toronto Star (for which he often wrote while in Paris) asking him to look after Gains while he was in Paris. Though he is skeptical, disbelieving that Jack Renault had been displaced as Canada’s reigning heavyweight champion, Hemingway arranges to meet Gains, and he notices especially his long hands. The length of Gains’s hands made it difficult for him in the past to win a fight because he could not find boxing gloves that fit. Hemingway then begins to work with Gains to get him ready to box in Paris. He notices that Gains has many physical drawbacks, besides his hands, that prevent him from being a great fighter. For instance, his body is too long, which prevents him from moving as gracefully as is necessary. Hemingway is convinced that any heavyweight Gains fights against will beat him. He tries to get the trainer to teach Gains how to defend himself, since it is clear that offense will be a problem. The trainer, however, does not want to change anything for fear that Gains will lose his “style.” They practice with a “carcass man” from the local butcher. The carcass man (“c.m.”) is not a skilled fighter and eventually succumbs to Gains’s rather ineffective boxing. Yet the trainer insists that Gains is ready for the upcoming fight on Saturday. In Gains’s first fight he wins merely by aggression, rather than style or skill. Afterward, Gains apologizes to Hemingway for his lack of style. Gains wants to continue seeing Hemingway to talk about fights and other things.
Hemingway mentions again Ford Madox Ford’s bad breath, which made Hemingway try to keep his distance whenever they met. More interesting, according to Hemingway, Ford had a peculiar odor whenever he lied, and he lied constantly. Ezra Pound insists that he lies simply because he is tired, and relates one of the lies he told about crossing the American Southwest with a puma. Then he recounts that Ford went to Germany to get a divorce from his first wife. However, since he was not a German citizen the divorce was not valid, but Ford does not believe this. Eventually, after his friends lose their patience with him, Ford is convinced that he has been treated shabbily. He begins a new magazine called the...
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Summary and Analysis Chapters 26 and 27
Hemingway gives a presentation of his son, “Bumpy,” who was born during the Paris years. Hemingway took Bumpy with him to the cafés while he wrote. When he and Hadley went to Schruns in Austria, Bumpy went along, but he was left behind when his parents went to Spain. At that time, he would stay with the servant and her husband, whom he called “Touton.” Touton had been an officer in the French army and played a large part in Bumpy’s formative years.
Often, however, Hemingway would take him to the café where he did his writing, where the child kept quiet and observed the people as they passed. He spoke fluent French and had great depths of insight into the people he saw. He especially loves Touton, who has a great admiration for Hemingway as a writer, according to Bumpy. He also likes Sylvia Beach (whom he calls “Silver Beach”), who is always nice to him. He observes that his father’s friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald, drinks too much and asks his father about it. Hemingway mentions that Zelda does not like her husband’s work, to which Bumpy replies that Fitzgerald should scold her to make her stop. Bumpy then decides to show Fitzgerald an example in moderation by requesting a small beer for himself, which he drinks slowly. Later Bumpy asks if Fitzgerald’s mind was demolished in the war. Hemingway says it was not, and Bumpy is relieved. However, he still feels sorry for Fitzgerald and the unhappiness that is evidenced by his drinking.
Hemingway relates a time in America when he, his second wife Pauline, and Fitzgerald and Zelda went to the Princeton football game in 1928. The Fitzgeralds have a friend called Mike who accompanies them to the game. Mike and Fitzgerald had gone to Princeton together. During the game, Fitzgerald remained sober, but afterward he became drunk. On the train, he began to bother the other passengers. He zeroes in on a Princeton medical student who is reading a medical book. Fitzgerald takes the book away from him, looks at it, and insults the student by calling him a “clap doctor” (a doctor who specializes in treating venereal diseases). Mike apologizes to the student on behalf of Fitzgerald. Once off the train the group is met by the Fitzgeralds’ chauffeur, who had been a taxi driver in France and accompanied Fitzgerald to America. Fitzgerald refuses to allow him to put oil or water in the car, stating that this is necessary only in French cars....
(The entire section is 878 words.)
Summary and Analysis Chapters 28 and 29
Hemingway describes his ski trips to the Vorarlberg. During the second year, many of his friends and acquaintances were killed by avalanches. This was also the year that the rich tourists showed up. He states that the rich have a “pilot fish,” a person who goes before them to check out the best locations. Hemingway describes a conversation with one such “pilot fish” who is evidently trying to cover up his dislike for his employers by stating that he really does like them. He assures Hemingway that he too will like them, but of course Hemingway does not. He is upset that the coming of the rich has upset the gentle harmony and peace of the skiing community. Eventually he discovers that the pilot fish was not as trustworthy as he believed, and he is grieved that he had confided in him, even reading him some of the novel he was working on.
Hemingway then goes into a veiled account of his infidelity to Hadley. He claims that he loved both women equally. When he was with one, he loved her exclusively. When he was with the other, it was she alone that he adored. He regrets putting his wife through pain, but he regrets it only in hindsight, after the “murder” (as he calls it) has been done. The two women he loved had him under control. One manipulates him through aggression, the other through love. It is the more aggressive one that eventually wins. The existence of a child is also a complication. He loves both, but eventually he will leave wife and child to go with the new woman. Compared to the hell of the divorce, Hemingway says the year of the avalanches was a happy period of childhood. It was when he returned from a trip to New York and stopped in Paris that the trouble came to a head. Hadley was still in the south, while Pauline was in Paris. Though he was unfaithful, he had great remorse about it. When he returned to Hadley and saw her on the platform on the station, he realized he loved no one but her and his son. The fact that Pauline had been a friend of Hadley only made the matter worse. The only bright spot that Hemingway can see in this episode is that Hadley eventually remarried, finding a man who Hemingway said was of much better quality than he himself was. After his divorce, Paris was never the same to him, and he eventually left.
Hemingway also reflects on the new skiers, prior to his divorce, when he and Hadley went on skiing trips often. Before skiing became more...
(The entire section is 977 words.)