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Hemingway: The Paris Years Paperback – May 17, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the second of his series of five biographies of Ernest Hemingway, Michael Reynolds turns to the years that formed the writer's distinctive style and critical intelligence. He exhaustively chronicles the particular literary influences on Hemingway, oftentimes even recounting the reading lists that the writer received from particular individuals. "Reading The Wasteland with Ezra Pound at one's elbow is no bad way to pick up a thing or two," he dryly observes at one point. He also pays close attention to Hemingway's conversations with, and studying the literature of, Pound, James Joyce, and particularly Gertrude Stein, who later complained that for all of Hemingway's talent, "He looks like a modern and he smells of the museums." Reynolds's sympathy for his subject is so complete that at times his own stylistic voice becomes a sort of homage to Hemingway's--colloquial, declarative, and wry. At times, however, he too liberally assumes the inner thoughts of his subjects. The substantial research and period analysis he commands turn such repeated phrases as "he must have thought" or "it must have seemed to him" into an unnecessary striving for authority. At his best, though, Reynolds not only uses his extensive source material with a critical eye but provides a wealth of information about the social, political, and literary backgrounds of a time and place that were in many ways the dawn of the 20th century's intellectual tradition. --John Longenbaugh

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on new sources, the author of The Young Hemingway here skillfully picks up where the earlier book left off, showing how a callous, uneducated, very young writer transformed his straightforward journalistic approach--"the narrator conscious of his own responses to the event"--into a cornerstone of his fiction. Based in Paris from 1921 to 1926, the brash braggart Hemingway, as portrayed by Reynolds, learned from what he read, experienced and observed, letting neither his wife nor his friendships--nor his constant sore throats--stand in the way of his career as a novelist. This is an entertaining, evocative, major biography of an exasperating man, and an enthralling re-creation of literary, artistic and sporting Paris during the Jazz Age. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (May 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318791
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By suetonius on March 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Michael Reynolds's Hemingway, The Paris Years is the second volume of his five volume life of Hemingway. Reynolds's takes pains in his introduction to thank and praise Carlos Baker for his Hemingway biography, but Reynolds's work has become acknowledged as the greater of the two. This volume deals with Hemingway's Paris years from 1921 to 1926, the same period that Hemingway describes in his short memoir, "A Moveable Feast."
The twenty-two year old Hemingway is newly married to his first wife Hadley and has been advised by his American literary mentor, Sherwood Anderson, to go live and work among the writers and artist of Paris' Left Bank expatriate pack.
Reynolds present Hemingway's Paris years in detailed chronological order. He occasionally goes into greater detail than is appropriate for good story telling but the book reads for the most part like a novel. Hemingway takes a trip to Italy to visit his WWI haunts in Milan and the riverbank where he was wounded. Hemingway's early work as a reporter for the Toronto Star takes him to some of the major political events of the 1920's. He interviews Mussolini mere months before he seizes power in Italy and attends a 1922 Genoa conference that is eerily similar to the 2001 Genoa conference. He takes exciting bullfighting trips to Spain wherein the development of Hemingway aficion for bullfighting is well described. The details of Hemingway's climb up the literary pecking order are made clear. He is being referred to as the best young American novelist by friendly critics years before he has published a novel.
The painstaking process by which Hemingway fashioned his early, classic short stories is described in you-are-there detail. The pugnacious Hemingway picks fights with perceived rivals, both with fisticuffs and with his writing.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Papin on December 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an engrossing book that makes you feel like you are actually walking alongside Hemingway during his early years in Paris. I could feel the cold that he felt on his cheek, I could see the smile that Hadley gave him every time he walked into their dark little apartment after a hard day of writing in the cafes. This is due to Michael Reynolds superb, painstaking research, the photographs, and the copies of original manuscript that he included in this biography. I cannot stress enough how unlike an usual biography this is...Hemingway literally leaps out at you from the first sentence and pulls you into his world, lets you experience his poverty and first marriage in Paris, the birth of his son, the arrival of his first mistress, and the amazing literary scene in Paris that has now apparently died for good. Hemingway has amazing quotes on writing, life, living through your failures, and it was a pleasure to get to read the library list of every book he checked out during this time period. This is an amazing book, and the best biography I have EVER read in my life.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William M. Hessberg on February 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mr. Reynolds continues his bio of EH with the writer's first marriage and Paris years of the early 1920's. Reynolds is excellent in his narrative of EH's developing literary career. The trial and errors of the early stories, the rejection and success of getting the stories published is well told. EH's social life in Paris is well analyzed. Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound are part of EH's life for short periods that EH makes the most of. His life as a reporter and editor are well told too. His life as husband and father is secondary to his work as a writer. Mr. Reynold's skill as a biographer has improved since the first volume. He is less judgemental and lets EH's nasty side reveal itself thru incident rather than excessive criticism. A first rate bio.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on June 20, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been trying to read two other books, on top of The Paris Years, but put them both down yesterday so that I could finish this one. The biggest thing that stands out about it is the excellence of Michael Reynolds' prose. He has the rare skills which enable readers to successfully jettison themselves back in time.

This is the perfect companion to A Moveable Feast and elucidates the historical nature of the characters present in The Sun Also Rises as well. Reynolds, although sometimes pretending to do otherwise, is a psychologizing narrator. The good news is that most of his observations have the ring of truth. The biographer seems to understand his subject which is of great benefit to the rest of us. Hemingway's first marriage is discussed extensively and the coming of Pauline Pfeiffer is also elucidated at the very end. Hemingway had Ford and Pound as his philandering role models, and, eventually, he proves to be a most capable student.

What I liked best about the book was the way in which Reynolds lets us know what Hemingway's writing process was; the daily habits he undertook which allowed him to excel at his craft. He struggled mightily to master the short story and, throughout this work, his emergence as a novelist is far from certain. The scenes in Pamplona are vivid as is the depiction of the cafe life in Paris. You may well want to go back and tour it as badly as I do by the time you're done. Ah, the past. Anyway, it is unfortunate that more on F. Scott Fitzgerald was not included, but you'll understand Ford Maddox Ford almost as well as Hemingway once the last page is turned. Overall, it was simply outstanding, I may well read the other editions of the biography now based on what I discovered here.
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