Hemingway in Paris, 1924: less than a decade removed from his time as a WW1 ambulance driver.

Hemingway in Paris, circa 1924: less than a decade removed from his years as a WW1 ambulance driver and during the time he was writing the notebooks that became A Moveable Feast

An interesting thing has been taking place in France this week: Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast has been making its way up the best-seller list in the wake of last week’s ISIS attacks. Hemingway’s widow published AMF in 1964 three years after the writer’s death. It is a collection of vignettes Hemingway wrote in notebook form while living in Paris in the 1920s as a member of the Lost Generation. He tinkered with the manuscript in the 1950s and prepared what was essentially the final draft before his suicide. Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford and Ezra Pound are just a few of Hemingway’s protagonists. Though I’m sure it was coincidence the book was published fifty after the onset of the First World War, which was fitting being that the events of 1914-18 were what set the stage for the anxieties and opportunities of 1920s Paris.

Hemingway in many respects was a stereotypical artist. The multiple divorces, the alcoholism, the posing and sheer blowhardedness, the chaotic personal life and, eventually, the suicide. It was all so messy; yet when it was time to put pen to paper he could bring it like nobody’s business, and all in such a straightforward, no bullshit style. It is no wonder people are tuning to Hemingway and his Paris memoir again at this anxious time, 50+ years after its original release.

(image/Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)