Hemingway claims that when he writes stories in the first person, people always assume that the events in the stories actually happened to him; when he is most successful, he can make the reader believe that the events happened to them as well. Hemingway is disdainful of the need to prove whether or not the author actually experienced the events he writes about, referring to this as “the private detective school of literary criticism.” In Paris, Hemingway would draw inspiration from both his own life and the lives of his friends and use it as subject matter for his fiction. Much of what he writes is taken from the experiences of other soldiers he met during the war.
Hemingway’s rejection of “the private detective school of literary criticism” is somewhat ironic, considering that “A Moveable Feast” is a gift to readers and scholars who wish to better understand how Hemingway’s fiction may have been influenced by real events from his own life. On the other hand, this passage also throws into question how true to life the book is overall. To what extent is Hemingway writing (true) memoir, and to what extent is he simply “writing in the first person”?