Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Own Moveable Feast

 I have this habit of accumulating a list of books that I want to read, be it British classics (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens), ancient Greek reference (100 Great Characters in Greek Mythology), social awareness (Eaarth by Bill McKibben), or contemporary memoirs (Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nifisi).  I have those along with probably ten other books marinating in my room, begging to be opened.  I'm realizing that I have ADD-esque tendencies, and being on winter break with all this time allows me to go through 2-3 day obsessions before moving on to the next activity.  So far, I've gone from organizing to shopping to watching Netflix to playing Chinese civilization-building games (trying to move past that one..).  That being said, as much as I would like to begin each book sitting on my floor and crammed into the book shelf, I'm forcing myself to finish one at a time.

Du moment, I have Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.  It's ironic that it's taken me this long to read, since I've been to France and Paris three different times in the last five years!  Before I studied in France last fall, our director recommended this to read during the summer, but long story short our director fell ill, no longer was our director and I never purchased the book.  But now I have it!  It is a post-humously published memoir of Hemingway's life in Paris after World War I in the 1920s with his first wife Hadley, and many other artistic ex-pats like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I like this restored edition of A Moveable Feast because it includes insets of Hemingway's original manuscripts and photos from his life.  His life is economically poor; he woes his lack of success as a story-writer after leaving his stable journalist career, yet he shares Paris through the clarity of insatiable hunger.  The city comes alive through horses galloping down the Velodrome track, fishermen on the Seine, the warmth and jabber of Sylvia Beach in her bookstore Shakespeare and Company, those rare occasions he dines lavishly with his wife, spring's reminder of life, and self-consumed writing on cafe terraces, with either a cafe or demi-blonde beer or fine a l'eau at hand.  It's brilliant, and I only wish that I had read this prior to visiting Paris.  I would have certainly sought his frequent haunts.
While I did consider taking a cafe at Les Deux Magots (outrageously expensive!), for the most part I found a different Paris.  This is my moveable feast to share with you.

Le Dome, one of the cafes to find Hemingway and other ex-pats.  Provided by National Geographic via Google Images.

March 2008

"I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought.  You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil."

March 2010
My photographic skills and camera improved.  But barely!

Paris and France in general was quite glum during March, yet when the sky cleared...

"When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be the happiest.  The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep form making engagements, each day had no limits.  People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself." 

October 2011
For my program we stayed for a week.  I had a nicer camera and better idea of how to compose a photo!

"Standing there I wondered how much of what we had felt on the bridge was just hunger.  I asked my wife and she said, "I don't know, Tatie.  There are so many sorts of hunger.  In the spring there are more.  But that's gone now.  Memory is hunger."

 "The blue-backed notebooks, the two pencils and the pencil sharpner (a pocket knife was too wasteful), the marble-topped tables, the smell of cafe cremes, the smell of early morning sweeping out and mopping and luck were all you needed." 

 "But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight." 

"But we were not invulnerable and that was the end of the first part of Paris, and Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed."
This city constantly amazes me.  There's no doubt that I'm going back.
Listening: "I get a kick out of you" by Frank Sinatra

1 comment:

Allison said...

I love this post and love that you drew your inspiration from Hemingway (one of my all-time favorites).
I can't say enough about how gorgeous these pictures are - you're giving me a ridiculous case of wanderlust (more than usual!).
Can't wait to see what you draw your post inspiration from next, darling friend. xox