A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway Character Analysis

Ernest Hemingway is the author and narrator of the book. An American writer born in the suburbs of Chicago, Hemingway served in the First World War before moving to Paris as a foreign correspondent for The Toronto Star. Hemingway’s first wife is Hadley, with whom he has one child, Bumby. In the mid 1920s he has an affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, who later becomes his second wife.

Ernest Hemingway Quotes in A Moveable Feast

The A Moveable Feast quotes below are all either spoken by Ernest Hemingway or refer to Ernest Hemingway. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Creation vs. Critique Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of A Moveable Feast published in 2010.
Chapter 1 Quotes

No one emptied the Café des Amateurs though, and its yellowed poster stating the terms and penalties of the law against public drunkenness was as flyblown and disregarded as its clients were constant and ill-smelling.
All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Alcohol, Cafés
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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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.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

"Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there.

It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that you knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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The wives, my wife and I felt, were tolerated. But we liked Miss Stein and her friend, although the friend was frightening, and the paintings and the cakes and the eau-de-vie were truly wonderful. They seemed to like us too and treated us as though we were very good, well-mannered and promising children and I felt that they forgave us for being in love and being married––time would fix that––and when my wife invited them to tea, they accepted.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway, Gertude Stein, Alice B. Toklas
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Then the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally; but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

I knew how severe I had been and how bad things had been. The one who is doing his work and getting satisfaction from it is not the one the poverty is hard on. I thought of bathtubs and showers and toilets that flushed as things that inferior people to us had or that you enjoyed when you made trips, which we often made.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

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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."

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

She did not like to hear really bad nor tragic things, but no one does, and having seen them I did not care to talk about them unless she wanted to know how the world was going. She wanted to know the gay part of how the world was going; never the real, never the bad.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Gertude Stein
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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In the three or four years that we were good friends I can not remember Gertrude Stein ever speaking well of any writer who had not written favorably about her work or done something to advance her career except for Ronald Firbank and, later, Scott Fitzgerald. When I first met her she did not speak of Sherwood Anderson as a writer but spoke glowingly of him as a man and of his great, beautiful, warm Italian eyes and of his kindness and his charm. I did not care about his great beautiful warm Italian eyes but I liked some of his short stories very much.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Gertude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

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She was angry at Ezra Pound because he had sat down too quickly on a small, fragile and, doubtless, uncomfortable chair, that it is quite possible he had been given on purpose, and had either cracked or broken it. That finished Ezra at 27 rue de Fleurus. That he was a great poet and a gentle and generous man and could have accommodated himself in a normal-size chair was not considered. The reasons for her dislike of Ezra, skillfully and maliciously put, were invented years later.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Gertude Stein, Ezra Pound
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

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"All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation…”

"Really?" I said.
"You are," she insisted. “you have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death. . .”
"'Was the young mechanic drunk?” I asked.
"Of course not."
"Have you ever seen me drunk?”
"No. But your friends are drunk.”
"I've been drunk" I said. “But I don’t come here drunk.”

"Of course not. I didn't say that.”
"The boy's patron was probably drunk by eleven o’clock in the morning." I said. “That’s why he makes such lovely phrases. "
"Don't argue with me, Hemingway,” Miss Stein said. “It does no good at all. You're all a lost generation, exactly as the garage keeper said."

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Gertude Stein (speaker)
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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When I got home and into the courtyard and upstairs and saw my wife and my son and his car, F. puss, all of them happy and a fire in the fireplace, I said to my wife, “You know, Gertrude is nice, anyway…”
"Of course, Tatie.”
"But she does talk a lot of rot sometimes.”
"I never hear her,” my wife said. “I’m a wife. It’s her friend that talks to me.”

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway (speaker), Jack “Bumby” Hemingway, Gertude Stein, Alice B. Toklas
Page Number: 62-3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

You got very hungry when you did not eat enough in Paris because all the bakery shops had such good things in the windows and people ate outside at tables on the sidewalk so that you saw and smelled the food. Then you were skipping meals at a time when you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to do it was the Luxembourg gardens where you saw and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the place de l'Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard. There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were heightened and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. I learned to understand Cezanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry. I used to wonder if he were hungry too when he painted; but I thought it was possibly only that he had forgotten to eat. It was one of those unsound but illuminating thoughts you have when you have been sleepless or hungry. Later I thought Cezanne was probably hungry in a different way.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Cafés
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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Outside on the rue de l’Odeon I was disgusted with myself for having complained about things. I was doing what I did of my own free will and I was doing it stupidly. I should have bought a large piece of bread and eaten it instead of skipping a meal. I could taste the brown lovely crust. But it is dry in your mouth without something to drink. You God damn complainer. You dirty phony saint and martyr, I said to myself. You quit journalism of your own accord. You have credit and Sylvia would have loaned you money. She has plenty of times. Sure. And then the next thing you would be compromising on something else. Hunger is healthy and the pictures do look better when you are hungry. Eating is wonderful too and do you know where you are going to eat right now?

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Sylvia Beach
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

Ezra Pound was always a good friend and he was always doing things for people. The studio where he lived with his wife Dorothy on the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs was as poor as Gertrude Stein's studio was rich. It had very good light and was heated by a stove and it had paintings by Japanese artists that Ezra knew. They were all noblemen where they came from and wore their hair cut long. Their hair glistened black and swung forward when they bowed and I was very impressed by them but I did not like their paintings. I did not understand them but they did not have any mystery, and when I understood them they meant nothing to me. I was sorry about this but there was nothing I could do about it.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Gertude Stein, Ezra Pound, Dorothy Pound
Related Symbols: Hair
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

The way it ended with Gertrude Stein was strange enough. We had become very good friends and I had done a number of practical things for her such as getting her long book started as a serial with Ford and helping type the manuscript and reading her proof and we were getting to be better friends than I could ever wish to be. There is not much future in men being friends with great women although it can be pleasant enough before it gets better or worse, and there is usually even less future with truly ambitious women writers.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Gertude Stein, Ford Madox Ford
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

The winter of the avalanches was like a happy and innocent winter in childhood compared to that winter and the murderous summer that was to follow. Hadley and I had become too confident in each other and careless in our confidence and pride. In the mechanics of how this was penetrated I have never tried to apportion the blame, except my own part, and that was clearer all my life. The bulldozing of three people’s hearts to destroy one happiness and build another and the love and the good work and all that came out of it is not part of this book. I wrote it and left it out. It is a complicated, valuable and instructive story.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway, Pauline Hemingway (née Pfeiffer)
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

Until then I had felt that what a great writer I was had been carefully kept secret between myself and my wife and only those people we knew well enough to speak to. I was glad Scott had come to the same happy conclusion as to this possible greatness, but I was also glad he was beginning to run out of the speech.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

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In Europe then we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well-being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary, and I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking either wine or cider or beer.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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He had many good, good friends, more than anyone I knew. But I enlisted as one more, whether I could be of any use to him or not. If he could write a book as fine as The Great Gatsby I was sure that he could write an even better one. I did not know Zelda yet, and so I did not know the terrible odds that were against him. But we were to find them out soon enough.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

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Paris Sketches 1 Quotes

Creation's probably overrated. After all, God made the world in only six days and rested on the seventh.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Young man in café
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

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Paris Sketches 4 Quotes

They knew nothing of our pleasures nor how much fun it was to be damned to ourselves and never would know nor could know. Our pleasures, which were those of being in love, were as simple and still as mysterious and complicated as a simple mathematical formula that can mean all happiness or can mean the end of the world. That is the sort of happiness you should not tinker with but nearly everyone you knew tried to adjust it.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker), Hadley Hemingway
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

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Paris Sketches 7 Quotes

Everyone had their private cafés there where they never invited anyone and would go to work, or to read or to receive their mail. They had other cafés where they would meet their mistresses and almost everyone had another café, a neutral café, where they might invite you to meet their mistress and there were regular, convenient, cheap dining places where everyone might eat on neutral ground.

Related Characters: Ernest Hemingway (speaker)
Related Symbols: Cafés
Page Number: 203-204
Explanation and Analysis:

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Ernest Hemingway Character Timeline in A Moveable Feast

The timeline below shows where the character Ernest Hemingway appears in A Moveable Feast. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: A Good Café on the Place St.-Michel
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Hemingway describes the “bad weather” that always comes to Paris after the fall, with cold rain... (full context)
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At the café, Hemingway is writing about Michigan, and he reflects that it is useful that the weather outdoors... (full context)
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Hemingway starts “making plans” to leave Paris while the weather is bad (he uses the pronoun... (full context)
Chapter 2: Miss Stein Instructs
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When Hadley and Hemingway return to Paris it is “clear and cold and lovely.” Cafés are open with heated... (full context)
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Even when Hemingway is not writing, whatever story he is working on stays at the back of his... (full context)
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Hemingway notes that Stein looks like an Italian peasant woman and that she has “lovely, thick,... (full context)
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Stein also teaches the Hemingways about buying art. She advises them to avoid spending money on clothes in order to... (full context)
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When Hemingway first meets Stein, she had published only “three stories that were intelligible to anyone.” However,... (full context)
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Stein then moves on to teaching Hemingway about sex. Hemingway admits Stein thinks he is “a square about sex” and that this... (full context)
Chapter 3: Shakespeare and Company
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Hemingway doesn’t have enough money to buy books so he uses the rental library of Shakespeare... (full context)
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Hemingway has no hot water in his apartment; the only indoor toilet is an “antiseptic portable... (full context)
Chapter 4: People of the Seine
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Hemingway describes the walk from his apartment to the Seine. Along the riverside streets are stalls... (full context)
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Hemingway enjoys watching the fishermen but he does not fish himself; he “would rather save… money... (full context)
Chapter 5: A False Spring
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...question is “where to be happiest.” People can also restrict happiness, and, for that reason, Hemingway avoids making plans with others. He wakes early and works while Hadley keeps sleeping. The... (full context)
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Hemingway and Hadley decide to go; they will take the train and bring sandwiches to save... (full context)
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Later that year, Hadley and Hemingway get lucky at the races again and they stop for oysters, crab, and wine at... (full context)
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Hemingway asks if Hadley is hungry again, and she replies “of course.” They agree to have... (full context)
Chapter 6: The End of an Avocation
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Hemingway and Hadley continue to go “racing,” even though Hemingway admits that this makes it seem... (full context)
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Hemingway and Mike discuss racing; Mike advises Hemingway that it’s hard to stop going and it’s... (full context)
Chapter 7: “Une Génération Perdue”
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Hemingway makes a habit out of going to Gertrude Stein’s house in the afternoons. Stein is... (full context)
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Stein goes on to denounce D.H. Lawrence as “impossible… pathetic and preposterous.” She advises Hemingway to read Marie Belloc Lowndes instead, which he does and enjoys greatly. Hemingway notes that... (full context)
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...the mechanic of being part of a “génération perdue” or “lost generation.” Stein agrees, telling Hemingway that he and the mechanic are indeed members of a lost generation who, after serving... (full context)
Chapter 8: Hunger Was Good Discipline
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Sometimes Hemingway does not have enough money to eat, and during this time he gets exceptionally hungry... (full context)
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Hemingway asks Sylvia if he has any mail; he is waiting on payment from Germany, which... (full context)
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After a trip to Lausanne, Hemingway shows O’Brien his story about racing. At this point, Hemingway is in a defeated mood... (full context)
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Hemingway notes that, while “hunger is good discipline,” it is important not to let “hunger-thinking” go... (full context)
Chapter 9: Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple
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Hemingway lives near a café called the Closerie des Lilas, which is one of the nicest... (full context)
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One evening, Hemingway is sitting outside the Closerie when Ford Madox Ford comes over and asks to sit... (full context)
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Ford asks Hemingway why he is drinking brandy, warning him that brandy can be “fatal for a young... (full context)
Chapter 10: With Pascin at the Dôme
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It is a lovely spring evening. After a day of work, Hemingway leaves his flat and walks over to a restaurant: just reading the menu makes him... (full context)
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...who also liked men” and the other is “childlike and dull.” Pascin offers to buy Hemingway a drink, boasting that he has money and encouraging Hemingway to order a whisky. Pascin... (full context)
Chapter 11: Ezra Pound and the Measuring Worm
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Hemingway describes Ezra Pound as a very devoted and generous friend. He notes that Ezra’s studio... (full context)
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One afternoon while Hemingway is teaching Ezra to box at Ezra’s studio, he meets Wyndham Lewis. According to Hemingway,... (full context)
Chapter 12: A Strange Enough Ending
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Hemingway and Stein develop a close friendship, but Hemingway feels that friendships between men and women... (full context)
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Hemingway then hears Stein’s voice in the distance, repeating the following words: “Please don’t. Please don’t,... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Man Who Was Marked for Death
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Hemingway meets the poet Ernest Walsh at Ezra Pound’s studio. Walsh is accompanied by two blond-haired... (full context)
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Later, Hemingway hears that Walsh has been given the funds to start a new magazine called This... (full context)
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Walsh announces that he’s going to stop beating around the bush and he tells Hemingway that he will be awarded the prize. Walsh begins to praise Hemingway’s writing, which makes... (full context)
Chapter 14: Evan Shipman at the Lilas
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After finding Shakespeare and Company,, Hemingway reads Turgenev, Gogol, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. He tries to read stories by Katherine Mansfield but... (full context)
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Hemingway goes to meet Evan Shipman at the Lilas. Hemingway describes Evan as “a fine poet”... (full context)
Chapter 15: An Agent of Evil
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Ezra gives Hemingway a jar of opium and tells him to give it to Ralph Cheever Dunning “only... (full context)
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While Hemingway’s attempt to help Dunning is unsuccessful, eventually “the lovers of poetry Ezra had organized” have... (full context)
Chapter 16: Winter in Shrums
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After Hemingway’s son Bumby is born, the young family leaves Paris during the cold winters. Before Bumby... (full context)
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Hemingway and Hadley are “always hungry” while skiing and every meal becomes “a great event.” They... (full context)
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Hemingway grows his hair and beard long during these winters, and Herr Lent tells him that... (full context)
Chapter 17: Scott Fitzgerald
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...was not a good time in the man’s personal life. The narrative switches back to Hemingway’s usual first person voice and he explains that when he first meets Scott Fitzgerald “a... (full context)
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Scott then asks Hemingway if he and Hadley slept together before they were married; Hemingway replies he doesn’t remember,... (full context)
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Scott and Hemingway talk about the café they are in and about Scott’s recent writing. Scott wants Hemingway... (full context)
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Hadley is happy that Hemingway is going on the trip, though she isn’t impressed by Scott as a writer (Hemingway... (full context)
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Hemingway notes that Lyon is not “cheerful” at night; he adds that it is the kind... (full context)
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The men go to the garage and Hemingway is surprised to see that Scott’s car has no top; this is because Zelda hates... (full context)
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At the hotel, Scott lies on the bed. Hemingway checks his temperature and his heartbeat and promises him that he is “perfectly O.K..” Hemingway... (full context)
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Hemingway feels happy, before realizing that Scott finds him “too happy.” Scott accuses him of being... (full context)
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Scott tells Hemingway a story about Zelda falling in love with a “French naval aviator” at St.-Raphael, and... (full context)
Chapter 18: Hawks Do Not Share
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Scott invites the Hemingways to have lunch with him, Zelda, and Scotty at their apartment. The apartment is “gloomy... (full context)
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During one of their walks together, Scott tells Hemingway that he needs to sell some stories, and Hemingway advises him that he needs to... (full context)
Chapter 19: A Matter of Measurements
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Later, after Zelda has a nervous breakdown, Scott and Hemingway have lunch at Michaud’s. Scott tells Hemingway that he has an important question to ask,... (full context)
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Many years later, the Ritz’s barman, Georges asks Hemingway about “this Monsieur Fitzgerald” everyone talks about. Hemingway explains that he “was an American writer... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Birth of a New School
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Hemingway describes the atmosphere of writing in a café—the notebooks and pencils, marble tables, and smell... (full context)
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The young man says “I thought you could help me, Hem,” and Hemingway offers to shoot him. The young man tells Hemingway that everyone says “you were cruel... (full context)
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In the chapter’s alternate ending, Hemingway reflects on his desire to hit the young man, but admits that he wouldn’t have... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Ezra Pound and His Bel Esprit
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Hemingway states that “Ezra Pound was the most generous writer I have ever known” but also... (full context)
Paris Sketches: On Writing in the First Person
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Hemingway claims that when he writes stories in the first person, people always assume that the... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Secret Pleasures
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While Hemingway is working as a journalist, it is important that he has a “presentable suit,” “respectable... (full context)
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Once Hemingway quits journalism, he and Hadley are “free people in Paris.” Hemingway declares that he is... (full context)
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Hemingway and Hadley go to Austria that year, where no one cares what they look like.... (full context)
Paris Sketches: A Strange Fight Club
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Hemingway describes Larry Gains, a black Canadian amateur boxer who was once titled “the heavyweight champion... (full context)
Paris Sketches: The Acrid Smell of Lies
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Hemingway opens the chapter by claiming that “many people loved Ford,” mostly women but also “a... (full context)
Paris Sketches: The Education of Mr. Bumby
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Hemingway spends a lot of time in cafés with Bumby while he works. Bumby comes to... (full context)
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After Bumby sees Scott drunk at the Place St.-Michel café, he asks Hemingway: “Monsieur Fitzgerald is sick Papa?” Hemingway explains that Scott drinks too much, and Bumby decides... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Scott and his Parisian Chauffeur
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In 1928, Hemingway and Pauline are in America. They attend the Princeton football game and afterwards they take... (full context)
Paris Sketches: The Pilot Fish and the Rich
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Hemingway reflects on the time he spent in Austria, claiming that the first year was an... (full context)
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Hemingway notes that before “these rich” arrived, “we had already been infiltrated by another rich using... (full context)
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Hemingway leaves Austria for New York. His new life with Pauline gives him a “wrenching, kicking... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Nada y Pues Nada
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The chapter begins where the last one left off; Hemingway notes that when he and Hadley were young in Paris, they thought they were “invulnerable.”... (full context)
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Hemingway then remembers when Evan had pancreatic cancer and came to Cuba. Evan came to “say... (full context)