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A Moveable Feast

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A Moveable Feast
First American edition
AuthorErnest Hemingway
PublisherScribner's (USA)
Jonathan Cape (UK)
Publication date
Publication placeUnited States
TextA Moveable Feast online

A Moveable Feast is a 1964 memoir by American author Ernest Hemingway about his years as a struggling expatriate journalist and writer in Paris during the 1920s. It was published posthumously.[1] The book details Hemingway's first marriage to Hadley Richardson and his associations with other cultural figures of the Lost Generation in Interwar France.

The memoir consists of various personal accounts by Hemingway and involves many notable figures of the time, such as Sylvia Beach, Hilaire Belloc, Bror von Blixen-Finecke, Aleister Crowley, John Dos Passos, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Pascin, Ezra Pound, Evan Shipman, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Hermann von Wedderkop. The work also refers to the addresses of specific locations such as bars, cafes, and hotels, many of which can still be found in Paris today.

Ernest Hemingway's suicide in July 1961 delayed the publication of the book due to copyright issues and several edits which were made to the final draft. The memoir was published posthumously in 1964, three years after Hemingway's death, by Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife and widow, based upon his original manuscripts and notes. An edition altered and revised by Seán Hemingway, his grandson, was published in 2009.


In November 1956, Hemingway recovered two small steamer trunks that he had stored in March 1928 in the basement of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. The trunks contained notebooks he had filled during the 1920s.[2] Hemingway's friend and biographer A. E. Hotchner, who was with him in Paris in 1956, later recounted the occasion of Hemingway's recovery of the trunks and notebooks:[2]

In 1956, Ernest and I were having lunch at the Hôtel Ritz Paris with Charles Ritz, the hotel’s chairman, when Charley asked if Ernest was aware that a trunk of his was in the basement storage room, left there in 1930. Ernest did not remember storing the trunk but he did recall that in the 1920s Louis Vuitton had made a special trunk for him. Ernest had wondered what had become of it. Charley had the trunk brought up to his office, and after lunch Ernest opened it. It was filled with a ragtag collection of clothes, menus, receipts, memos, hunting and fishing paraphernalia, skiing equipment, racing forms, correspondence and, on the bottom, something that elicited a joyful reaction from Ernest: 'The notebooks! So that’s where they were! Enfin!' There were two stacks of lined notebooks like the ones used by schoolchildren in Paris when he lived there in the ’20s. Ernest had filled them with his careful handwriting while sitting in his favorite café, nursing a café crème. The notebooks described the places, the people, the events of his penurious life.

Hotchner, A. E. (2009-07-19). "Don't Touch 'A Moveable Feast'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-08.

Having recovered his trunks, Hemingway had the notebooks transcribed, and then began working them up into the memoir that would eventually become A Moveable Feast.[3] After Hemingway's death in 1961, his widow Mary Hemingway, in her capacity as his literary executor, made final copy-edits to the manuscript prior to its publication in 1964.[2][3] In a "Note" with which she prefaced the posthumously published 1964 edition of the work, she wrote:

Ernest started writing this book in Cuba in the autumn of 1957, worked on it in Ketchum, Idaho, in the winter of 1958-59, took it with him to Spain ... in April, 1959, and brought it back with him to Cuba and then to Ketchum late that fall. He finished the book in the spring of 1960 in Cuba.... He made some revisions ... in the fall of 1960 in Ketchum. It concerns the years 1921 to 1926 in Paris. - M.H.

Mary Hemingway's prefatory note to: Hemingway, Ernest - A Moveable Feast, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1964, p. xi.

Gerry Brenner, a literary scholar at the University of Montana, and other researchers have examined Hemingway's notes and the initial drafts of A Moveable Feast, which are in the collection of Ernest Hemingway's personal papers opened to the public in 1979, following the completion of the John F. Kennedy Library, where they are held in Boston, Massachusetts. In a paper titled "Are We Going to Hemingway's Feast?" (1982), Brenner undertook to document Mary Hemingway's editing process and questioned its validity. He concluded that some of her changes were misguided, and others derived from questionable motives.[4] He also suggested that the changes appeared to contradict Mary's stated policy for her role as executor, which had been to maintain a "hands off" approach.[3] Brenner states that Mary changed the order of the chapters in Hemingway's final draft, apparently to "preserve chronology". This change interrupted the series of juxtaposed character sketches of such individuals as Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company, and Gertrude Stein.[citation needed] The chapter titled "Birth of a New School", which Hemingway had dropped from his draft, was reinserted by Mary.[citation needed] Brenner alleges the most serious change was the deletion of Hemingway's lengthy apology to Hadley, his first wife. This apology appeared in various forms in every draft of the book.[citation needed] Brenner suggests that Mary deleted it because it impugned her own role as his wife.

In contrast, Hotchner has said that he received a near final draft of A Moveable Feast in 1959, and that the version Mary Hemingway published is essentially the draft he had read then. In his view, the original 1964 publication is the version that Hemingway intended, and Mary Hemingway did not revise or add chapters on her own initiative, but simply carried out Ernest's intentions.[2] Hotchner describes Hemingway's memoir as "a serious work", that Hemingway "certainly intended it for publication", and contends: "Because Mary was busy with matters relating to Ernest’s estate, she had little involvement with the book.... What I read on the plane coming back from Cuba [in 1959] was essentially what was published. There was no extra chapter created by Mary.[2]

Source of title[edit]

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast. - Ernest Hemingway, to a friend, 1950

epigraph on title page of A Moveable Feast, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1964, p. v.

The title of A Moveable Feast (a play on words for the term used for a holy day for which the date is not fixed) was suggested by Hemingway's friend and biographer A. E. Hotchner, who remembered Hemingway using the term in 1950.[5] Hotchner's recollection of what Hemingway had said became the source of the epigraph on the title page for the posthumously published work in 1964.[5]

The term had also been used earlier (1946) in a non-religious context in an English translation of the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus: "Masson remarked that we’d had a very early lunch, but really lunch was a movable feast, you had it when you felt like it."[6]


The 1964 edition of Hemingway's Paris memoir consists of a preface by Hemingway (pg. ix), a "note" by his widow (pg. xi), and 20 chapters, or individual parts or sections.[7] Each of the chapters can be read as a stand-alone piece or entity, not dependent upon the context of the whole work, nor necessarily arranged in any chronological order—with titles descriptive of the subject matter of each, as follows:[7]

Publishing history[edit]

The first published edition was edited from Hemingway's manuscripts and notes by Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife and widow, and published posthumously in 1964, three years after Hemingway's death.[2][3]

In 2009 a new edition, titled the "Restored Edition", was published by Seán Hemingway, assistant curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and grandson of Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer. He made numerous changes:

  • The previous introductory letter by Hemingway, pieced together from various fragments by Mary Hemingway,[citation needed] was removed.
  • The chapter called "Birth of a New School" and large sections of "Ezra Pound and the Measuring Worm" and "There Is Never Any End to Paris" (which has been renamed as "Winter in Schruns" and moved to chapter 16) had sections previously left out that have been re-added. The unpublished "The Pilot Fish and the Rich" has been added.
  • Chapter 7 ("Shakespeare and Company") has been moved to be chapter 3, and chapter 16 ("Nada y Pues Nada") has been moved to the end of the book as an "Additional Paris Sketch".
  • Hemingway's use of the second person has been restored in many places, a change which Seán asserts "brings the reader into the story".[8]

From the new foreword by Patrick Hemingway:

"[H]ere is the last bit of professional writing by my father, the true foreword to A Moveable Feast: 'This book contains material from the remises of my memory and of my heart. Even if the one has been tampered with and the other does not exist'."[9]


Preserved video of two critical reactions from 1964[edit]

The basic cable channel GSN has rebroadcast the kinescope of an appearance that Sheilah Graham made on the American television show What's My Line? 23 years after the death of her boyfriend F. Scott Fitzgerald.[10][11] She appeared on an episode that was telecast live on CBS on June 7, 1964, when A Moveable Feast was on bestseller lists.[10][11] Graham appeared on the show to promote a book she had written, and she did not bring up A Moveable Feast.[10][11]

Bennett Cerf, the head of Random House publishing who was also a regular panelist on the network television series, initiated talk of Hemingway's new bestselling book.[10] Cerf, who was two years younger than Fitzgerald and one year older than Hemingway, had the following exchange with Graham, according to the kinescope of the telecast that is available for viewing on YouTube.[12]

Cerf: Miss Graham, after, after this new Hemingway book, I hope you're going to answer some of the remarks that were made in that book about Scott Fitzgerald.

Graham: Well, I would like to. I'm not sure I'm the right person, although I am the right person...

Cerf: Ah, you certainly are the right person.

Graham: ... to answer that. I thought it was rather dreadfully cruel to Scott Fitzgerald and, untrue in, uh, in certain areas, shall we say.

Cerf: Well, I hope you'll straighten the record.

Graham: [unintelligible] ... try

Reactions to the 2009 edition[edit]

A.E. Hotchner alleged, among his other criticisms of the 2009 edition, that Seán Hemingway had edited it, in part, to exclude references to his grandmother (Hemingway's second wife Pauline Pfeiffer) that he found less than flattering.[2] As Hotchner's over-all assessment of the 2009 edition, he wrote:

"Ernest was very protective of the words he wrote, words that gave the literary world a new style of writing. Surely he has the right to have these words protected against frivolous incursion, like this reworked volume that should be called “A Moveable Book”.[2]

Other critics also have found fault with some of Seán Hemingway's editorial changes.[13] Irene Gammel writes about the new edition: "Ethically and pragmatically, restoring an author's original intent is a slippery slope when the published text has stood the test of time and when edits have been approved by authors or their legal representatives." Pointing to the complexity of authorship, she concludes: “Mary's version should be considered the definitive one, while the 'restored' version provides access to important unpublished contextual sources that illuminate the evolution of the 1964 edition.”[14]



On September 15, 2009, Variety reported that Mariel Hemingway, a granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, had acquired the film and television rights to the memoir with American film producer John Goldstone.[15] In 2019, it was reported that a television series was being developed through Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, but there was no planned release date.[16][17]

Cultural references[edit]

In films[edit]

  • The comedy film The Moderns (1988) brings the characters of A Moveable Feast to life while spoofing the pretense of the Lost Generation.
  • The book is featured in the movie City of Angels (1998) during an exchange between Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.
  • Woody Allen's 2011 film Midnight in Paris is set in the Paris of the 1920s as portrayed in Hemingway's book, and the movie features the Owen Wilson character interacting with Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and uses the phrase "a moveable feast" in two instances.
  • The Words (2012) uses an excerpt from A Moveable Feast to represent a book manuscript found in an old messenger bag.
  • In the American movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), one of the books on the shelf in the character Steve Rogers' apartment is Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.
  • In the American film French Postcards (1979), a character quotes the epigraph from the book in order to convince a fellow American student who is studying in France with him to not only study, but enjoy life in Paris.
  • In the American comedy film Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008), a stripper named Tits Hemingway says she got the latter part of her name because her favorite novel is A Moveable Feast.

In literature[edit]

In stage performances[edit]

  • In his stand-up performances in the late 1960s, Woody Allen performed a routine wherein he riffed the feel of the then recently published book while describing imaginary times spent with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, and Gertrude Stein with the repeated punch line: "And Hemingway punched me in the mouth."[18]

Revival in France[edit]

Following the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, A Moveable Feast became a bestseller in France.[19] In the context of the attacks, the book's French-language title, Paris est une fête, was a potent symbol of defiance and celebration. Bookstore sales of the volume surged, and copies of the book became a common fixture among the flowers and candles in makeshift memorials created by Parisians across the city to honor victims of the attacks.[19][20]

Hemingway's wine[edit]

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway shows what life was like for aspiring writers in Paris. He talks about his friendships with Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, his first marriage and their life in the Latin Quarter, and his writing routine in Parisian cafes. His love of good wine shines through as he never fails to mention which wine he enjoyed with his friends and what they ate with it. Wine was entwined with the writer's lifestyle in Paris.[21]

  • Sancerre: A False Spring, "Another day later that year when we had come back from one of our voyages and had good luck at some track again we stopped at Prunier's on the way home, going in to sit at the bar after looking at the clearly priced wonders in the window. We had oysters and crab mexicane with glasses of Sancerre."[22]
  • Mâcon: Scott Fitzgerald, "We had a marvellous lunch from the hotel at Lyon, an excellent truffled roast chicken, delicious bread and white Mâcon wine and Scott was very happy when we drank the white Maconnais at each of our stops. At Mâcon I had bought four more bottles of excellent wine which I uncorked as we needed them."[23]
  • Corsican: With Pascin at the Dôme, "At home, over the sawmill, we had a Corsican wine that had a great authority and a low price. It was a very Corsican wine and you could dilute it by half with water and still receive its message."[24]
  • Cahors: With Pascin at the Dôme, "At the Negre de Toulouse we drank the good Cahors wine from the quarter, the half or the full carafe, usually diluting it about one-third with water...In Paris, then, you could live very well on almost nothing and by skipping meals occasionally and never buying any new clothes, you could save and have luxuries."[25]

In September 2020, Chiswick Book Festival featured a wine and literature event celebrating Hemingway's wine in A Moveable Feast presented by Victoria Daskal.[26]


  1. ^ Anders Hallengren (28 August 2001). "A Case of Identity: Ernest Hemingway". www.nobelprize.org.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hotchner, A. E. (2009-07-19). "Don't Touch 'A Moveable Feast'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  3. ^ a b c d Hemingway, Mary (1977). How It Was. New York: Ballantine.
  4. ^ Brenner, Gerry (December 1982). "Are We Going To Hemingway's Feast?". American Literature. 54 (4): 528–544. doi:10.2307/2926004. JSTOR 2926004.
  5. ^ a b Hotchner, A.E. (1966). Papa Hemingway. New York: Random House. p. 57.
  6. ^ Camus, Albert (1946). The Stranger (PDF). Translated by Gilbert, Stuart (Vintage Books ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 34. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  7. ^ a b Hemingway, Ernest - A Moveable Feast, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1964.
  8. ^ Hemingway, Ernest; Hemingway, Seán (2009). Hemingway, Seán (ed.). A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition. New York: Scribner's. p. 4.
  9. ^ Hemingway, Seán (ed.) (2009), p. xiv
  10. ^ a b c d "Episode in which Sheilah Graham and Bennett Cerf comment on A Moveable Feast". What's My Line. June 7, 1964. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "Text written by people who watched the 2006 GSN broadcast of the 1964 What's My Line kinescope". What's My Line. Archived from the original on 2018-01-03. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
  12. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Kinescope of What's My Line episode that aired live on CBS on June 7, 1964, cue it to 10 minutes 19 seconds". What's My Line. YouTube.
  13. ^ Massie, Allan (August 5, 2009). "Rewrites and Wrongs". The Spectator. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  14. ^ Gammel, Irene (August 21, 2009). "A Changeable Feast". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike (September 15, 2009). "Hemingway's 'Feast' Heads to Screen". Variety. Archived from the original on September 24, 2009.
  16. ^ "Hemingway's 'A Moveable Feast' in the Works as TV Series". The Hollywood Reporter. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  17. ^ Petski, Denise (2019-08-13). "Ernest Hemingway's 'A Moveable Feast' In Works For TV With Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, Mariel Hemingway Among Producers". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  18. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (March 14, 2012). "Fifty Years Ago Woody Allen Plotted Midnight in Paris in this Stand Up Routine". Vulture. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Watson, Ivan & Sandrine, Amiel (November 22, 2015). "A Moveable Feast: Sales surge for Hemingway's Paris memoir". CNN.
  20. ^ Chandler, Adam (November 23, 2015). "How Hemingway's A Moveable Feast Has Become a Bestseller in France; Following the deadly attacks in Paris, the author's memoir about life in the city has sold out of bookstores". The Atlantic.
  21. ^ "A Moveable Feast Box & Tasting". Mummy Wine Club. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  22. ^ "Sancere Gérard Fiou". Mummy Wine Club. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  23. ^ "Domaine Corsin Macon". Mummy Wine Club. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  24. ^ "Domaine Culombu Corse". Mummy Wine Club. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  25. ^ "Chateau Chambert Cahors". Mummy Wine Club. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  26. ^ "Speakers 2020 -". Retrieved 2020-09-16.


Further reading[edit]

  • Hotchner, A.E. (1966). Papa Hemingway. New York: Random House.
  • Hemingway, Mary (1977). How It Was. New York: Ballantine.
  • Hitchens, Christopher (June 2009). "The man in full". The Atlantic. 303 (5): 83–87. [This review's online title is "Hemingway's libidinous feast"]
  • Hotchner, A.E. (July 19, 2009). "Don't Touch 'A Movable Feast'". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  • Hernandez, John Paul Jr. (2016). "The Role of Hunger in The Moveable Feast". Find My Cuban Family. Archived from the original on 2017-02-18. Retrieved 2017-02-17.

External links[edit]