Critical Context

A Moveable Feast is often used in high-school English classes not only for its own literary merit and the information that it provides about Hemingway’s life but also for the insight that it allows into the lives and work of other major literary figures. The work examines a time and place important to the understanding of the development of American literature, and it provides an introduction to other works of Hemingway. The many explanations of his style and method in the work lend a sense of connection between his philosophy and his writing, making the work a good companion to his novels and short stories.

A Moveable Feast has become a classic for its vivid and detailed sketches of a place and an era that have traditionally fascinated young audiences. The work is also a kind of classic writer’s notebook, a diary of the experiences of a young writer. From A Moveable Feast, the young reader gains a sense of the impact of a work such as Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) at the time when it was written. Hemingway describes such writers as T. S. Eliot and Fitzgerald, who are familiar to young adult audiences, and these portraits add to the literary importance of A Moveable Feast in spite of their obvious bias.

Hemingway did not intend to write an autobiography in the strictest sense of the word. In its style and format, A Moveable Feast most resembles a collection of short stories in which Hemingway and other real people become characters. Hemingway admits that much is left out of the work in terms of experiences and relationships, and though he does not explicitly claim that it is the case, it is evident that many things are added as well.