Rediscovered Classics: A Moveable Feast
This month's rediscovered classic is a masterpiece, a remarkable love-letter to the city of Paris
Our rediscovered classic is an evocation of Parisian Bohemia by one of the most revered writers that ever lived.
Sometimes a book takes on a new significance, years after it was written: now is the time to read, or re-read, this remarkable classic.
A Moveable Feast is a masterpiece, one that captures an entire era, an entire city and an entire life. As you read, you will be transported to another time, better yet, you will feel that you lived it. Crucially, right now, it can be read as a hymn to artistic freedom and the city of love.
Set in Paris, between 1921 and 1926, A Moveable Feast depicts the Roaring Twenties, when artists and writers famously met in cafes to discuss and debate, it was the time of Art Deco and Jazz, Europe was alive with new music, new dances and new ideas; the city was ablaze with creativity.
Hemingway’s writing is deceptively simple. There is so much more to this book than just an older man looking back on his younger years. Although, when read as just that, it is no less enjoyable. As a memoir by a Nobel prize-winning writer it feels coolly confessional.
We see a young Hemingway looking out over the rooftops, unable to write, telling himself he has written before and he will write again. It is, on one level, a story of a man tracing the flashpoint of his career and the life he led up to that point, as an unpublished writer, penniless, in love and expectant.
One of the beauties of this exceptional volume is that is leaves so much unsaid. Hemingway’s renowned style is sparse and clean. You can only guess at the stories and the sentences that were removed, all the extraneous detail. It is interesting to note that the narrator makes no mention of the present, the moment he writes from, only the past as he remembers it. Much can be inferred about the inaccuracy of memory, the way we all fictionalise our pasts, as well as countless other interpretations. It is in tiny details like these that you begin to recognise his writing is a crystallization of sprawling ideas into a finely balanced and measured text.
On the surface, this is a book about love, youth and art but in fact A Moveable Feast explores time, work and life.
This is a book you can read again and again, taking away more each time; and each time it is never less than breath-taking.
Looking back not only at author's own much younger self, but also at the other writers who shared Paris with him - James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald - he recalls the time when, poor, happy and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation. Selected as our January 2016 Rediscovered Classic.