Summertime means that I actually have time to read all of the books that have been taunting me from my shelf for months. First up on my list is Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. This book is perfection in the only way that a Hemingway novel can be. This story embodies everything that Liberosis stands for (read about it here), enjoying the simplicity and small meaningful things in life even when life isn’t perfect. The novel is a tale of Hemingway’s expatriate life in Paris when he was a young budding writer and still married to his first wife, Hadley (although it is not classified as an autobiography).
Hemingway is one of my all-time favorite authors. To add to that, I have always been obsessed with Paris. Hemingway is admittedly a difficult read. He applies his famous iceberg theory technique and even comments on how he originally formed it while writing at Parisian cafes. If you choose to read this, I suggest pausing every so often to think about what he is saying. Even if the sentence seems insignificant, Hemingway did not write anything out that he believed was not needed, so everything you see is important to the story.
In the novel Hemingway speaks of being poor, supporting a family, and being frustrated when he cannot get a story out the way he wants it. I feel like I can certainly relate since I am still establishing myself in the world. Even though I am always on a tight budget, I still realize how fortunate I am. What I do forget, however, is to appreciate the little things in life, and more importantly, the people in it. Hemingway stating that “we would be warm together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright” truly shows that even when he was poor and had nothing, he was being meditative and appreciative of what he did have.
When I visited Paris myself 3 years ago, my favorite part of the trip was not climbing the many stairs to the top of the Eiffel tower or even seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. My absolute favorite part of being in Paris occurred when I was on a Seine river boat cruise. I noticed that that the hundreds of people lounging along the banks of the Seine were just drinking wine and eating cheese or baguettes. This really struck me, and I realized that this simple activity truly marked the aura of what Paris is. These people were enjoying the company of one another, enjoying food and wine, and most importantly, had nowhere more important to be. I know I don’t stop to enjoy the little things enough, and that memory is something I think about often.
I think about this memory as I read A Moveable Feast, because Hemingway clearly understood what a Parisian lifestyle meant. I can see why he would choose to be here in order to refine his craft-along with many other famous expatriates like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. He says “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 moveable feast,” and I can honestly say I wholeheartedly agree.