A Moveable Feast Summary

Hemingway's memoir A Moveable Feast recounts his experiences as a struggling writer in Paris. In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, became part of the "Lost Generation," a group of expatriate writers and artists who had left America to live abroad.

  • Hemingway's friends and colleagues are themselves writers and artists, and among the many notable figures mentioned in A Moveable Feast are Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Hemingway reveals what he really thinks about other artists. He finds the painter Wyndham Lewis cruel and considers the poet Ford Madox Ford abusive. He has great affection for F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose talent he describes as being as natural as the pattern on a butterfly's wing.
  • At the beginning of the memoir, Hemingway is living in Paris with his first wife, Hadley, and his young son, Bumpy. Partway through the memoir, however, Hemingway has an affair with Pauline, who becomes his second wife.

Synopsis

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.