Showing posts with label paris in the 1920's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label paris in the 1920's. Show all posts

Monday, May 28, 2018

*Hemingway-Up Close and Personal-"A Moveable Feast"-A Book Review

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the great American writer, Ernest Hemingway.


A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, Vintage-New Edition, New York, 2000

This book, published after the death by suicide of Ernest Hemingway in 1961, but written in 1960 is a little gold mine of insights about the personalities and places that made Paris in the 1920's the home of the post World War I "lost generation". Hemingway notes that these memoirs can be treated as fiction but that one can still gain some insight even through approached through that lens. Certainly the writing is as sparse and well turned as any of his short stories, including the characteristic last sentence or two of each section structured to sharply give the point he was trying to get across in the story.

Of course Hemingway was young , newly married, and fairly poor in this Paris but apparently his reputation was such that all the great American and British expatriates crossed his path (or he theirs). Gertrude Stein (and Alice B.) get a nod. As does Ford Maddox Ford, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and a smaller group of secondary writers and poets. Hell, I believe after this exposition that you had to have been in Paris at that time if you wanted to fertilize your work.

A special note should be taken of the sections dealing with his relationship with Scott Fitzgerald. From Hemingway's perspective Fitzgerald was a very difficult man but one whom he tried to befriend. And of course there, as always, was the Zelda problem. If you want to understand the inner strain of Fitzgerald's Tender is The Night read Hemingway's tidbits. At some level Hemingway was trying to `save' Fitzgerald as a writer but as we know that was not to be. Read here and then go out and read other books on the "lost generation". Some of it will make more sense then.

Monday, February 26, 2018

*Writer’s Corner – Ernest Hemingway’s Last Hurrah- “The Garden Of Eden”

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the great American writer, Ernest Hemingway.

Book Review

The Garden Of Eden, Ernest Hemingway, Collier Books, New York, 1986

Recently, in a review of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first published novel, “This Side of Paradise” (1920), I mentioned that I thought his contemporary, friend, expatriate and fellow writer Ernest Hemingway had definitively won the battle for “number one” writer of their generation, variously named the post -World War I, “lost”, or “Jazz Age” generation. Paying due respect to the greater literary merit of Fitzgerald ‘s “The Great Gatsby” as, perhaps, the best of the individual novels (or short stories) each produced the respective collective bodies of work of each gave the nod to the “Old Man”. That conclusion, however, was premised on such Hemingway masterpieces as “Farewell To Arms”, “The Sun Also Rises”, and “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, and his sparse, knife-like skill with descriptive language. It did not, could not and, unfortunately, does not, include the present book under review, “The Garden Of Eden”.

Of course, as the Publisher’s Note makes clear, this post-mortem find (Hemingway committed suicide in 1961), brought forth in a shopping bag (along with other manuscripts) to the publisher’s office by Hemingway’s widow, Mary, is certainly the stuff of legend, and a compelling reason for publication. However, beyond the seemingly modern trend to publish every bit of paper that a famous writer every put to pen, the hoopla seems entirely misplaced. I will chalk this one up to mere publishing “trade-puffing”.

Why? Well, this is material, basically another tale from the vaults of that “lost” generation mentioned above, that was covered by Hemingway brilliantly at the time in such works as “The Sun Also Rises”, his masterly effort to define that generation and it malaise (and perhaps, incidentally, his own). This book, or rather rolling “travelogue” from one European “hot spot” to another (in the off-season no less), complete with descriptions of an enormous amount of drinking, early and late, eating in that same condition, and going for the occasional swim should make bells ring in the heads of Hemingway aficionados that something very familiar is being reworked here.

Oh, the plot. Newlyweds, David and Catherine, he a writer and she a… well, whatever she is, are off on a seemingly endless trip around Europe after his recent completion of a successfully received book. After endless bouts of lovemaking, and the aforementioned eating and drinking, David itches to get back in harness and write again. Catherine, formally, at least, encourages that desire, and moves on to other pursuits in the sexual field, a girlfriend (Marita) for herself… and for David. The story line pushes along from there around this central entanglement and stalwart David’s pressing need to write some tales of his youth in Africa as well as another novel. Needless to say, the wheels come off the cart in a somewhat unexpected way.

Despite various reviews of this book upon publication commenting on Hemingway's character development of Catherine to the contrary, he never really got his woman characters to be anything more than objects, beautiful, crazy or smart. That is certainly the case with the shallow, demonic Catherine, whatever charms she possessed for David, and Marita as well. As I read along I kept on saying Catherine why don't you go write a novel yourself. But apparently this sensible notion is too modern a conceit for those times. Still there is more than enough good, strong use of language that first attracted me to Hemingway to keep him up in that valued number one position. Just not off of this work though.