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431 of 440 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon August 3, 2000
Whenever friends ask me why, at my age, I still love Hemingway, I smile and think about this book. They say "Hemingway' and conjure up familiar visions of the older, bloated and blighted boozer bragging about his macho accomplishments in the world of war and sports, while I consider the young Hemingway in Paris. I am thinking of a much younger, intellectually virile man, someone far more alert, aware and alive; Hemingway as a `moveable feast' strolling deliberately through the streets of a rain-swept Paris on a quiet Monday morning, heading to a café for some café au lait to begin his long day's labor.
In this single, slim tome Hemingway beautifully and unforgettably evokes a world of beauty and innocence now so utterly lost and irretrievable both to himself, through his fame, alcohol, and dissipation, but also to us, for Paris as she was in the 1920s was a place made to order for the lyrical descriptive songs he sings about her in this remembrance; endlessly interesting, instantly unforgettable, and also accessible to the original "starving young artist types" so well depicted here. As anyone visiting Paris today knows, that magical time and place has utterly vanished. Tragically, Paris is just another city these days.
Yet this is a book that unforgettably captures the essence of what the word 'romance' means, and does so in the spare and laconic style that Hemingway developed while sitting in the bistros and watching as the world in all its colors and hues flowed by him. The stories he tells are filled with the kinds of people one usually meets only in novels, yet because of who they were and who they later became in the world of arts and letters, it is hard to doubt the veracity or honesty he uses to such advantage here. This is a portrait of an artist in full possession of his creative powers, full of the vinegary spirit and insight that made him a legend in his own time, and consequently ruined him as an artist and as a human being. There are few books I would endorse for everyone as a lifelong friend. This, however, is a book I can recommend for anyone who wants the reading enjoyment and intellectual experience Hemingway offers in such wonderful abundance in these pages.
Take my advice, though. Buy it first in paper, read it until it begins to fray and fall apart (and you will), and then go out and buy yourself a new hardcover edition to adorn your shelf, so on that proverbial rainy afternoon when the house is quiet, the kids are gone, and you just want to escape from the ordinary ennui and humdrum of life, pull "A Moveable Feast" down and hold it close enough to read. A cup of steaming tea by your side, return all by yourself to a marvelous world of blue city skyscapes, freshly washed cobblestone and unforgettable romance; return once more to Paris in the twenties, when life was simple, basic, and good.
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290 of 300 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2009
This book is Ernest Hemingway's reminisce about his life in Paris in the 1920s and the literary figures he knew, such as Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was left unfinished at the time of Hemingway's death in 1961 and originally published in 1964, edited by his fourth and last wife, Mary. This new "restored" version presents the same book as re-edited by Hemingway's grandson Sean.

The original book is a highly-regarded literary work of art, leaving open the question of why the world needs a new version. The one and only advantage is the inclusion of new, previously unpublished chapters included after the main text, called "Additional Paris Sketches." Anything new written by Hemingway is always welcome.

The problem is Sean Hemingway's editing and the motivation behind it. In his Introduction, he would have us believe Mary somehow wrecked Hemingway's vision of the book and he has now reshuffled the chapters to reflect what his grandfather would have really wanted. Forty-five years after the original publication, Sean writes with what seems to me unusually strong venom at Mary and what he sees as her agenda in making her edits: "The extensive edits Mary Hemingway made to this text seem to have served her own personal relationship with the writer as his fourth and final wife, rather than the interests of the book, or of the author, who comes across in the posthumous first edition as something of an unknowing victim, which he clearly was not." Sean needed to provide some sort of rationale for the new edition, and this is what he would have us believe: the original book reflected Mary's wishes, not Ernest's.

But since the manuscript was left unfinished when Hemingway died, no one knows what he really would have wanted. There is no "definitive" edition and never can one be. Even worse, Sean can well be accused of the same sin as he asserts for Mary: his edits are designed specifically to paint his grandmother Pauline Pfeiffer, Hemingway's second wife and his own grandmother, in a far more favorable light. Readers and scholars can compare the two editions and judge for themselves: is Sean protecting his grandfather's true wishes--whatever they were--or is he doing a favor for his own grandmother at the expense of Hemingway's conception? Sean dug around in the archives and found some things that look good for his grandmother, included them, and rejiggered the original contents in her favor as well.

The good news surely must be that the various heirs of Hemingway can't destroy his work, no matter what their motivations. The text is still the work of one of the 20th century's greatest and most influential writers. Most readers won't need the new edition, as the original, as literature, hasn't really been improved upon. Scholars and Hemingway fans will want to see the new sketches. Probably 45 years into the future, a "scholar's" edition will be published, sans any input from the various heirs of Hemingway, in an attempt to "set the record straight."
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199 of 206 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2009
The relative merits of the two versions aside, the restored edition lacks the charm of the original. One can say what one wishes about the editing of the original, but whoever edited it did a beautiful job: an incomplete and at times awkward and rambling manuscript was fashioned into a finished work of art. The spirit of Hemingway's intent is just better conveyed by the original. For example, Sean Hemingway takes issue with the change to the introductory note to the chapter entitled "Scott Fitzgerald" as it appears in the original. Mr. Hemingway claims that, as edited, it takes an unwarranted swipe at Fitzgerald. But that is exactly what the restored edition does: in not one new portion is Fitzgerald portrayed as anything but a flawed personality - a talented drunk, a bumbler, with silly ideas and habits, dominated by Zelda. Another aspect of the new edition I find unsettling is that the restored portions more often than not reveal a nastier Hemingway. And insofar as it attempting to portray an even more sympathetic Hadley, I disagree. The original quite poetically tells us all we need to know. The restored version merely states the obvious - tediously and at length. I first read the original edition when I was in college and loved it. I still do. I suppose the restored version has its scholarly value, but I would not recommend it to an impressionable young person as a lovely introduction to the world of the Lost Generation.
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109 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2001
This book could very well be the best of Hemingway.
A Moveable Feast was published after Hemingway's death and many feel that he would never have wanted it published. I'm very glad they did. It is a memoir of Hemingway's time in Paris during the 1920's. During that time he and his first wife, Hadley, lived on $5.00 a day.
I first heard of this book in the movie, City of Angels (Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan). In it, Cage reads a quote from it to Ryan. The quote interested me and I bought the book. I was amazed.
The characters in this book are extroridnary including everyone from Ezra Pound to Aleister Crowley. He narrates stories including F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda that are so acidic they almost hurt to read.
Hemingway was at his best when he wrote this book. It is a memoir of an aging man looking back on a very happy time in his life. Its a great place to start for Hemingway beginners and a touching read for Hemingway veterans.
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107 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 1997
There are three perfect little books in 20th century English literature: The Good Soldier, by Ford, The Moviegoer, by Percy, and this sparse narrative written in Hemingway's familiar and still powerful limpid prose. There are descriptions here of many literary figures in Paris during the twenties and the famous cuts at Ford and Fitzgerald, but these are not reasons to read this book. You read this book to hear Hemingway speak to you with his guard down, as you cannot otherwise hear him except in the early Nick Adams stories. He is sitting at his typewriter in Ketchum, his great gifts chased from him by alcohol and hubris, and he remembers when he still had it, when he was poor and cold and hungry and he had Hadley, before he became Hemingway, and he types slow, each word pulled from the emptiness to become the next inevitable perfect word, and his words are the shroud over his loss, his bitterness, his grievous fault. This book was not published in Hemingway's lifetime. It was not written for us
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88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2000
Hemingway's writing was always very auto-biographical, but in A Moveable Feast, published after his lifetime and written late in Hem's life, he actually uses real character names in recreating Paris of the 1920's. For any Hemingway fan, or for those interested in first hand accounts of life with Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and others, this is truly a must read.
The book is everything that most late fiction by Hemingway is not. It is lean, romantic, and genuine, without the blustery heroes and stilted dialogue of missed efforts like the dreadful Across the River and Into the Trees.
Here Hemingway looks back fondly on his days with Hadley in Paris, slipping into cafes to sit all day and attempt to write over a cup of coffee. He remembers trips to the racetrack, a hysterical road trip adventure with Fitzgerald to retrieve a car, and other memorable details from the lives of the Lost Generation living abroad. He also takes shots at some so-called friends who turned on him, not passing up on an opportunity to get in the last word. There is some doubt as to whether Hemingway ever wanted this book published, but I am very glad that they did. It is a book to cherish and come back to every couple of years, and it had aged better than anything else Hemingway had written.
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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2009
In an op-ed published in the New York Times on July 20, 2009, a close friend of Hemingway's, A. E. Hotchner, has questioned the grandson's editing of the book, which Hotchner claims was exactly the way Hemingway wanted it when he gave it to him (Hotchner) to drop off at his publisher's back around 1960 or so. The op-ed renders grandson Hemingway's work dubious at best. You may want to snap up the originally published version of "A Moveable Feast" soon, as it may be your last chance to read what Ernest Hemingway actually intended for you to read. As Hotchner's article points out, the implications of Scribner's action in publishing this "restored edition" is indeed troubling. Caveat emptor.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2009
Regardless of which side you believe (Patrick and Sean Hemingway's or A.E. Hotchner's) you have to admit the original version is hard to beat. It was superbly edited. It is an excellent book and a classic. With this edition, I enjoyed the new tidbits of information, the extra chapters not published before, and the photographs of the handwritten manuscript. It would have been better to reproduce the original faithfully, add the never-before-seen stuff as extra sections at the end of the book, and comment about it--whatever the bias or spin. The easy things they should have fixed, but didn't, are the flipped photos 5 and 6 in the insert. In later editions, those are mirror images of the ones in the 1964 version.

I have read most of Hemingway's books and avoided the posthumously published work: the exceptions being "A Moveable Feast" and "By-Line: Ernest Hemingway." Reading from the blurbs and gleaning from the noise and chatter, I wonder, could anyone claim with a straight face to know what Hemingway would have wanted? If he were alive he would punch that person in the nose, sit down, order a fine à l'eau, and not give it a second thought.

Leaving out the quote on the title page about how the book came to have its title is inexcusable. Mentioning it as an afterthought in the rambling Foreword is irresponsible. The Introduction sounded like a lot of rationalizing. The lead-in to the "Scott Fitzgerald" chapter was more poetic, and probably more true, in the original. If Patrick and Sean Hemingway had their way, this book would end with F. Scott Fitzgerald's worrying about the size of his manhood. Wait. In this "Restored" edition, it does.

I dislike this Internet age in which we live where everything is open to revision. Every year, authors of computer books trot out 2nd, 3rd,..., 100th edition of their original--with very little new information--in the hope of making a quick buck. Maybe it's inevitable the literary folks are thinking the same. What's next? A "Restored" edition of "To Have and Have Not" where language we now find objectionable is cleaned up?

My advice: It's not a bad idea to get this edition if you are a big Hemingway fan. I did. It's still excellent literature. If you want to get a feel of the Paris scene as it was when Hemingway started out, read this book. But get the original edition as it is much better.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2006
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway is his only nonfiction work and his first to be published posthumously. A Moveable Feast covers Hemingway's first extended time in Paris in the 20's, as he lives in a cheap apartment with his wife and son, spending his days writing in cafes and socializing with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce. It even includes a wild trip to Lyons with Scott Fitzgerald.

Written in the romanticized style of this time period you'll want to hop the next flight to Paris so that you too can live in the moment. Hemingway captures the feeling of Paris in the 1920's perfectly. The carefree life of an artist or writer is enviable. The ease in which they fit into a foreign world, make friends with one another, feed and learn off of one another is truly unique. This book moves at a slow pace, mimicking the lifestyle they lived, and is also very broken, living in the moment much like these artists did. It is particularly interesting to see Hemingway, a literary giant of today, humbled as he struggles to write, never believing he'll be able to write a full novel like Scott Fitzgerald. This is a book you will escape in.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2013
As an author, I am concerned by Scribner's involvement in this "restored edition." With this reworking as a precedent, what will Scribner do, for instance, if a descendant of F. Scott Fitzgerald demands the removal of the chapter in "A Moveable Feast" about the size of Fitzgerald's penis, or if Ford Madox Ford's grandson wants to delete references to his ancestor's body odor.

All publishers, Scribner included, are guardians of the books that authors entrust to them. Someone who inherits an author's copyright is not entitled to amend his work. There is always the possibility that the inheritor could write his own book offering his own corrections.

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." I hope the Authors Guild is paying attention.

A. E. Hotchner is the author of the memoirs "Papa Hemingway" and "King of the Hill."
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