A Moveable Feast Essay

A Moveable Feast Essay-64
The New Yorker dismissed his “picturesque despondency"; Fitzgerald’s first girlfriend urged the novelist to get a grip.

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Such was their relationship that Hemingway saw nothing wrong with excoriating his former friend in the story “Snows of Kilimanjaro,” published later in 1936.

Fitzgerald, Hemingway’s narrator laments, thought the rich “were a glamorous race and when he found they weren’t it wrecked him just as much as any other thing that had wrecked him.”Fitzgerald objected to the portrayal, but Hemingway scoffed. Fitzgerald died a few years later at 44 -- a victim, appropriately enough, of a weak heart.

The book Seán Hemingway has worked up is clunky in spots -- the ending becomes overly abrupt -- but it is also more nuanced when it comes to Hemingway’s relationships, including his friendship with Fitzgerald.

The big moments remain: Hemingway still evaluates Fitzgerald’s manhood (“You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened,” he explains, helpfully) and the pair get their grand adventure in Lyon, where Fitzgerald has a fit of hypochondria.

For Jordan, war “gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely.” He is not naive: He believes in the Republic while also believing it is doomed.

And he knows that innocents have been slaughtered -- at one point, he wonders how many of the men he’s killed were “real fascists.”But in the end, it is the fight that matters.His last royalty check, for .33, represented sales of 40 books, Donaldson notes, many of which had been purchased by Fitzgerald himself.A former English professor, Donaldson has devoted much of his career to Fitzgerald and Hemingway.Donaldson shows, for instance, how deeply both men believed in the lost cause.In an essay on “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” he compares Hemingway’s experience in the Spanish Civil War to that of his doomed protagonist, Robert Jordan.Fitzgerald also appears in another “tortured accumulation of history and ideas and personal experience": Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” newly reissued in a “restored” edition introduced and edited by his grandson Seán.The original -- left unfinished when Hemingway killed himself in 1961 -- was prepared by the author’s fourth wife, Mary.Years earlier, Fitzgerald had urged Perkins to publish “The Sun Also Rises,” a favor Hemingway never forgot.But as Hemingway’s reputation grew -- and Fitzgerald became enmeshed in personal tragedy -- the men drifted apart.This new version is meant as a corrective, drawn from Hemingway’s typed manuscript and featuring several previously unpublished vignettes. Hotchner, a friend of Hemingway’s, the author had all but finished “A Moveable Feast” at his death.Pauline Pfieffer, Hemingway’s second wife -- and Seán Hemingway’s grandmother -- is cast in a more favorable light, and the chapters have been returned to what Seán claims is the proper order. Furthermore, Hotchner argues, Mary “had very little involvement with the book.” A new edition is, therefore, not only unnecessary but also dangerous; from now on, the logic goes, relatives of famous authors will have license to muck about with the canonical texts.


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