A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition--Ernest Hemingway

Late last year, I had read through the heavily edited first edition of A Moveable Feast and found it wonderful and quite a different take on Hemingway than I had experienced before. This restored edition strikes me as both stronger and in some ways weaker than the "edited" version.   And the strengths and weaknesses are kind of mixed in the same issues.  For example, parts of the restored edition are narrated in a sort of ruminative second person, Hemingway speaking to himself as it were in retrospect. This can be disconcerting, but also powerful.  The removal of this entire aspect is a notable weakness on the part of the Traditional A Moveable Feast (TAMF).  On the other hand, some of those things that more unimpressed readers would typify as "macho" Hemingway were edited out of TAMF and actually made for a better narrative.

Comparing the two,  AMFRE is the stronger work.  The ordering is less sequential and less clearly a continuous narrative, but there are interesting experiments (such as that recounted above), there are more details about some episodes, and there are interesting appendices that show a Hemingway approaching his own end trying to come to terms with the events of his first two marriages. The slightly more disjointed narrative works well with the experiments conducted in the prose.  The distressing aspect of the AMFRE is that it tends to a more raw, unfiltered experience.  To my mind, it occasionally veers clearly into the realm of TMI.

I think there are benefits to reading both versions of this excellent work.  TAMF is somewhat more subdued and "romantic," giving a kind of sepia gloss to "The Lost Generation" of expatriates in Parise. AMFRE gives more details of Hemingway's writing, Hemingway's interactions with other writers, and actually considerably more information about James Joyce.

**** Recommended to Hemingway completists


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