Hemingway Can Be Funny

Who knew?  I read this while in a little Lebanese cafe/restaurant a little ways off from Grafton Street and spent so much time laughing out loud that I grew concerned about what the small clientele might think.  But not so concerned that I didn't keep laughing.

from A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition
Ernest Hemingway

"I just came in to have a drink. What's wrong with that?"

"At home they'd serve you and then break the glass."

"Where's home? It sounds like a charming place.". . .

"Suppose you wanted to be a writer and feel it in every part of your body and it just wouldn't come."

I went on writing and I was beginning to have luck now as well as the other thing.

"Suppose once it had come like an irresistible torrent and then it left you mute and silent."

Better than mute and noisy, I thought, and went on writing. He was in full cry now and the unbelievable sentences were soothing as the noise of a plank being violated in the sawmill.

"We went to Greece," I heard him say later. I had not heard him for some time except as noise.  I was ahead now and I could leave it and go on tomorrow.

"You say you used it or you went there?"

"Don't be vulgar," he said. "Don't you want me to tell you the rest?"

"No," I said. I closed the notebook and put it in my pocket.

"Don't you care how it came out?"


"Don't you care about life and the suffering of a fellow human being?"

"Not you."

"You're beastly."


"I thought you could help me, Hem."

"I'd be glad to shoot you."

"Would you?"

"No.  There's a law against it." 


  1. I was laughing yesterday over sections of the "Miss Stein Instructs" chapter, like his thoughts and the repetition about matters 'inaccrochable'; or the advice given by Ms. Stein on buying pictures:

    "You have to buy the people of your own age...There are always good new serious painters. But it's not you buying clothes so much. It's your wife always. It's women's clothes that are expensive.'

    I saw my wife trying not to look at the strange, steerage clothes that Miss Stein wore and she was successful. When they left we were still popular, I thought, and we were asked to come again to 27 rue de Fleurus.

    Or, upon meeting Miss Stein in the Luxembourg before the time when she had a dog:

    "I cannot remember whether she was walking her dog or not, nor whether she had a dog then. I know that I was walking myself..."

    I'm enjoying the second reading.


  2. Dear Bea,

    It is quite a different book in the two versions, and I'm still processing what I think about the restored version. There are places where it is considerably stronger and others where I think--hmmm, the editor was right in making away with the inaccrochable.

    See you soon to talk about it.




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