Saturday, 7 July 2012

Hemingway vs Fitzgerald: the survivor writes the history

the book:

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

published 1964 (but see below) section on F Scott Fitzgerald





[Hemingway is describing meeting Fitzgerald in Paris in the 1920s]

I kept on observing Scott. He was lightly built and did not look in awfully good shape, his face being faintly puffy. His Brooks Brothers clothes fitted him well and he wore a white shirt with a button-down collar and a Guard’s tie. I thought I ought to tell him about the tie, maybe, because they did have British in Paris and one might come into the Dingo [bar] – there were two there at the time – but then I thought the hell with it and looked at him some more. It turned out later he had bought the tie in Rome.

[They meet again a few days later, and Hemingway asks if the British men had been rude about the tie. Fitzgerald answers:]
‘Why should they have been rude about my tie? I was wearing a plain black knitted tie with a white polo shirt.’

I gave up then.


observations: First things first: ‘moveable feast’ does not mean ‘you can have breakfast whenever you like.’ It’s a religious term, meaning that a saint’s day, for example, can be shifted to another day if it suits the liturgical calendar better in a particular year. But that’s probably a lost cause, and Hemingway must be partly to blame. But even then – Hemingway was dead long before the book was published, and did not name it. The title comes from a remark he is reported to have made: ‘If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast’ - recollected AFTER his death by editor A E Hotchner.

The book is a non-fiction collection of pieces he wrote about his years in Paris – the years dealt with in
Thursday’s entry, a novel written from his first wife’s point of view – and actually it has a bizarre history, and would make a worthy subject of a lit crit discussion on ‘what constitutes a text?’ The Wikipedia history of the book is well worth a read, with its competing versions (1964 & 2009), the lack of authorial input, and Team 2nd Wife vs Team 4th Wife. (My p/b Random House copy claims to have been first published and copyrighted in 1936, which presumably is a mistake.)

Someone else who was long dead was Fitzgerald. Hemingway is both sympathetic and extremely rude about him, but in a way that suggests cattiness, insecurity and jealousy rather than the superiority over FSF that he plainly intends. The discussion of penis length later in this chapter defies belief.

Links up with: The first
Mrs Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Gatsby’s shirts have all featured. Richard Ford’s hero wore a polo shirt.

The photo of F Scott Fitzgerald is from the
Minnesota Historical Society via Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

  1. Gallus Strobel, mayor of the Black Forest town of Triberg, has demanded that spaces are painted with a male or female symbol depending on their perceived difficulty. Women have been allocated wide, well-lit spaces located close to the exits of car parks, while men are expected to pull in at more difficult angles close to cement pillars. The mayor has defended the controversial policy, saying: ‘Men are, as a rule, a little better at such challenges.’In the same way that women are bitchier than men, perhaps. Or maybe not...

    ReplyDelete