Fact or Fiction: Hemingway's A Moveable Feast
Ernest Hemingway's posthumously published A Moveable Feast is generally characterized as an autobiographical memoir recalling Hemingway's experiences while living in Paris during the 1920s (Perkins and Perkins, 739). However, many literary critics, including Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin (1, 9), have questioned the degree to which this Hemingway book represents a genuinely factual or autobiographical story. Indeed, Tavernier-Courbin (2, 44) suggests that there is as much fiction in the book as there is fact because "he felt that he had been unfairly portrayed by some of his contemporaries" and therefore "A Moveable Feast could hardly be an objective portrayal of its author and his contemporaries."
The research question shaping the present essay therefore is: to what degree does Hemingway's A Moveable Feast represent candid autobiography as opposed to an after-the-fact effort by its author to reshape posterity's understanding of what it meant to be Hemingway in Paris in the 1920s? This is a significant question in the view of Thomas Meier (345) because coming as it did three years after Hemingway's suicide, A Moveable Feast demonstrates that toward the end of his life, Hemingway had recaptured his literary powers and told a story which, if not entirely factual, was nevertheless compelling.
In the preface to the book, Hemingway (i) says that "if the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact." A Moveable Feast makes it clear that for Hemingway (209) "there is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other."
Hemingway's recollections of his encounters with such "Lost Generation" artists as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford, and F. Scott Fitzgerald presents to the reader...