Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway

Part One: The Original

I love Paris in the summer, in the spring, and in the winter. Before each and every trip there, I re-read Hemingway’s great work on his years in Paris between the wars. When I heard about the restored edition, I could not wait to compare it to the version I know and love. First, I re-read the original.

This memoir never grows old. Someday I want to spend a long period of time in Paris, and wander through the streets and visit the cafes Hemingway mentions. Some of them I have sat in and watched the boulevardiers pass along with strolling musicians, magicians, and mimes. I always made time to have a drink at Aux du Magots – a favorite hangout of writers, artists, and philosophers. Montmartre, the artist’s quarter, also played a role in his story. I still love this book.

Part Two: The Restored Edition

Two chapters have been moved another two deleted and replaced with another two. Other than that not many changes to the book. A casual reader might barely notice the differences. The additional chapter on F. Scott Fitzgerald added another incident to that tragic life. The chapter entitled “The Education of Mr. Brumby,” Hemingway and Hadley’s son, was interesting, because it revealed something of Hemingway as the doting father.

The best part of the revisions, however, came in a collection of fragments not included in the earlier version. One involved Hemingway’s assignment to follow a young Canadian boxer fighting for the first time in France. Another involved numerous fragments of a preface, which he never finished. The stops and starts and restarts of these show an interesting insight into the process of writing. The introduction provides a history of the manuscript. Apparently, Hemingway worked on this while he was in Paris between the wars, then lost track of it until the late 50s. He was still revising the manuscript when he died in 1961.

As I said, one of my all-time favorites, and the new material hasn’t changed my mind about that. If you plan on visiting Paris, read it on the plane to France. Make some notes and visit some of the places which are still there, visit some new spots, and you can create your own “Moveable Feast.” 5 stars

--Chiron, 11/29/09

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