Paris Books: A Moveable Feast

Hemingway at 113 rue Notre Dame des Champs; strong and hungry (Wikimedia)

The Experienced Travelers are reading Hemingway.  Hemingway, the legend of his time.  He knew Pound and Stein and Fitzgerald and Joyce and he liked them all some of the time.  Other times he despised them truly.  Times in between, he was indifferent.

Hemingway lived in Paris with Hadley and his son, sometimes on the rue Cardinal-Lemoine where the goatheard brought the goats early to sell milk, and sometimes next to a sawmill in Montparnasse where the wood smelled sweet.  He wrote and struggled and played the horses and observed.  Mostly he observed the faces of people and knew they would die soon or betray someone or sleep well after they were full and spent.

La Rotunde (Wikipedia)

This was 1920s Paris, between the wars.  Americans lived cheaply and ate, drank and loved well.  Americans came to Paris to live cheaply and they did.  Paris embraced them.  The Closerie des Lilas was the best place to write, in the morning when they washed the floor.  Lipp and the Rotund were for people on exhibition and they did that.

But Hemingway was hungry alot.   He had a  grinding emptiness in his gut. Every writer should be hungry because it makes him see better.  He saw the Cezannes with clarity.  He thought he would like Cezanne most of the time.  He walked home through the Luxembourg gardens or along the quays because it was the way to avoid the patisseries and restaurants where people ate golden oysters and drank Sancerre outside and were satisfied.

Ezra Pound was one of the good Christian men on earth.  He was a true friend when you needed one.  Miss Stein gave him a small chair which broke.  She could have given him a large one, for a man of his stature and talent, but she didn’t.

Alice and Miss Stein (

Miss Stein was built like a peasant woman. Her companion had hair cut like Joan of Arc.  27, rue de Fleurus contained the work of men who were hungry and who broke ice to wash in the morning.  Later Hemingway hated Miss Stein after she begged Alice please don’t.  He told the maid not to say he was there, and left.

La Closerie des Lilas in the 1920s (Wikipedia)

Hemingway wrote well in Paris, first for regular pay and then not for regular pay because the novel had to come.  Sometimes people would interrupt him to tell him he wrote well which was indiscreet because you never tell someone that to his face.   He thought they knew he could kill them because he knew he could, and you can tell when a man has that in him.

Then they had a whiskey or the red wine of the quartier, which was good and it lasted.  People are truer when they are drunk, and Hemingway was true alot and had to walk home in the rain which was the cold regular rain that stripped the trees bare.

The ETs will finish Moveable Feast soon and return to real stories which are better.  Hemingway’s book is short and good and it gets in your head.  Pound told Hemingway to distrust adjectives and Hemingway showed that to the ETs.  Shortly the ETs will forget this and do things normally.  Beware when we begin again with Proust.

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7 Responses to “Paris Books: A Moveable Feast”

  1. Terry Says:

    Oh Julie, what a delightful post! Maybe this will be my next “re-read.” Oddly, I started down the Hemingway path, reading one after another, not after being in Paris, but in Sun Valley Idaho where he’d also spent time. There is a small memorial to him along a quietly babbling brook where a person could, and did, sit for a few minutes contemplating life. Of course, with a Hemingway novel in hand!

    PS Am reading Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” set in 1930s Paris (on the “100 best” list). The protagonist, a sometimes employed writer, seems less tortured than Hemingway but nonetheless leads a eyebrow-raising life… can see why the book was originally banned.

    • Julie Says:

      Terese! Watch out for Hemingway, he will invade you! I decided I should re-read more of him after “Feast”. And now, Henry Miller! My, you are a brave one. Try the diaries of Anaïs Nin to get another side of the story. At which point you should be ready for Jane Austen or something equally chaste. Let us know about May plans!

  2. Autolycus Says:

    How about some Quéneau? Judging by this, “Julie dans le Métro” would be a hoot..

    • Julie Says:

      Nicely done! When I am next in Paris, I’ll get some footage of me in the Metro singing “Si tu t’imagines” a la Greco (I’ll even wear the striped shirt)

  3. agzack Says:

    Lovely, lively and fun — thanks for your post, Julie. I did my high school ‘thesis’ on Hemingway and have an itch to get to Key West this year to find out more about his life.

  4. Paris Street Markets: rue Mouffetard (5e) « Julie's Paris Says:

    […] everything you’ll need for a five-course meal and something to wear as you serve it up.  Hemingway lived nearby at 74, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, and like the fantasy in the movie Midnight in Paris. We […]

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