A Moveable Feast is both a personal memoir and the chronicle of a bygone era. Told from the point of view of the young Hemingway, newly married and living in Paris in the early 1920s, the book was actually one of the author's last works. Published posthumously in 1964, it has come under scrutiny firstly for its initial editorship by Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, and also for the release of a ‘Restored Edition’ (2009) by his grandson, Sean.
Each succinct chapter follows a set of Hemingway's memories of the time. As a member of the Lost Generation of expatriates, he peppers his recollections with famous names and recognisable characters. In ‘Miss Stein Instructs’, Hemingway and his wife Hadley visit the small studio belonging to Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, for conversations on fellow writers, on homosexuality and the morally corrupt. ‘With Pascin at the Dome’ sees a somewhat uncomfortable but ultimately faithful Hemingway being invited to partake in the joys of the painter’s attractive young models, who also happen to be sisters. ‘A Matter of Measurements’ finds the writer returning from the men’s room of Michaud’s restaurant to reassure an uncertain F. Scott FitzGerald about the size of his manhood. For better or worse, and to name but a few, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, Sylvia Beach, and Ezra Pound all feature in the memoir’s pages.
The final chapter takes the Hemingways out of Paris, to Schruns in Austria for a couple of ski seasons. And it is here that several momentous events in Hemingway's life are crammed into a few oblique paragraphs: the publication and success of his first novel, his affair with the wealthy Vogue journalist who would become his second wife, and the consequent collapse of his marriage to Hadley.
Beautifully written in Hemingway’s characteristically truncated style, A Moveable Feast is popularly credited as demonstrating some of his best work. The book has long since established itself as a classic by one of the most influential and highly respected authors of the twentieth century.