A Moveable Feast

Alcohol Symbol Icon

Alcohol features significantly in A Moveable Feast, with both positive and negative associations. Hemingway enjoys drinking, and he mentions that in Europe alcohol was seen as a “normal” and “healthy” part of everyday life. Indeed, alcohol is such a major part of the normal routine of Hemingway’s day-to-day life that he admits that sometimes he skips meals, not because he doesn’t have enough money to afford food, but because he doesn’t see the appeal of eating without alcohol and he cannot afford both. Many of the scenes take place in cafés and bars over drinks, and alcohol is shown to fuel conversation between the characters. Hemingway’s descriptions of delicious drinks—such as the fruit liqueur served at 27 rue de Fleurus or the many wines he samples during his time in France—further underlines the impression that alcohol is a simple pleasure that enriches Hemingway’s life, a small luxury that makes life in Paris pleasurable (even for those like Hemingway and Hadley who are forced to live on a very small budget).

However, alcohol also has a decidedly sinister presence within the narrative. Many characters are shown to be in the grips of alcoholism, including Scott, Zelda, and Ford. Gertrude Stein accuses all men of Hemingway’s age of being a “lost generation” who drown the trauma and nihilism they inherited from serving in the war through reckless drinking. Scott and Zelda’s drinking clearly inhibits Scott’s ability to work and causes destructive conflicts between the two of them. Furthermore, many of the characters are described as suffering from physical ailments as a result of drinking. While Hemingway largely does not implicate himself in alcohol abuse or the negative physical effects of drinking, it is a well-known fact that Hemingway did have a destructive relationship with alcohol and that his physical and mental deterioration around the time that he was revising A Moveable Feast was at least partially the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking. However, at least in the context of his own experience, Hemingway largely presents alcohol in a positive light, as a vehicle for socialization, entertainment, and indulgence in life’s pleasures.

Alcohol Quotes in A Moveable Feast

The A Moveable Feast quotes below all refer to the symbol of Alcohol. 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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Chapter 7 Quotes

"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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Chapter 8 Quotes

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 17 Quotes

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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Alcohol Symbol Timeline in A Moveable Feast

The timeline below shows where the symbol Alcohol 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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...Café des Amateurs, which is a “sad, evilly run café” filled with people who are drunk all day. Hemingway compares the Café to a cesspool, which—unlike the cesspools into which residential... (full context)
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...the subject matter of his story. The fact that the characters in the story are drinking makes Hemingway thirsty; he orders a “rum St. James,” which warms him instantly. A girl... (full context)
Chapter 2: Miss Stein Instructs
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...buys mandarins and roasted chestnuts as snacks. When he struggles to finish a story, he drinks kirsch (fruity brandy). When he is having trouble beginning a new story, he throws a... (full context)
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...full of paintings, resembles a museum. Stein and Toklas give their guests food, tea, and fruit liqueurs , “which warmed you and loosened your tongue.” (full context)
Chapter 4: People of the Seine
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...eat them is an open-air restaurant called La Pêche Miraculeuse, which serves “a splendid white wine.” He says that the restaurant is “straight out of a Maupassant story” and that from... (full context)
Chapter 5: A False Spring
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...Hadley would rather spend money on, and she replies that there isn’t. Once there, they drink wine from the bottle and someone Hemingway knows gives them two horses to bet on.... (full context)
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...and Hemingway get lucky at the races again and they stop for oysters, crab, and wine at a restaurant on their way home. After, they walk through the Tuileries to look... (full context)
Chapter 6: The End of an Avocation
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...while depositing his final winnings. They have lunch at bistro that serves “a wonderful white wine.” (full context)
Chapter 7: “Une Génération Perdue”
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...of a lost generation who, after serving in the war, spend all their time getting drunk. Hemingway protests, but Stein insists that there’s no use in arguing with her. This conversation... (full context)
Chapter 8: Hunger Was Good Discipline
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...leaves and immediately feels embarrassed about complaining; he resolves to get something to eat and drink, so he walks to brasserie called Lipp’s where he orders a large glass of beer... (full context)
Chapter 9: Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple
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...poet there, Blaise Cendrars, who has one arm and whose company Hemingway enjoys until Cendrars drinks too much. Most of the customers in the café know each other, and Hemingway suspects... (full context)
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...it. Ford then calls over the waiter and informs him that he brought the wrong drink, although this is not true—Ford forgot that he changed his mind. Hemingway says he will... (full context)
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Ford asks Hemingway why he is drinking brandy, warning him that brandy can be “fatal for a young writer.” Hemingway recalls that... (full context)
Chapter 10: With Pascin at the Dôme
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...having worked hard, though he notes that he is still poor. When he and Hadley drink wine, they dilute it with water. He concludes that in Paris it is possible to... (full context)
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Pascin is “a very good painter” and is drunk. The sisters are attractive; one is “a lesbian who also liked men” and the other... (full context)
Chapter 11: Ezra Pound and the Measuring Worm
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...that Lewis wants to see Ezra get hurt. After they finish, the men have a drink together; Hemingway watches Lewis and thinks that he looks “nasty.” At home that evening, Hemingway... (full context)
Chapter 12: A Strange Enough Ending
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...him Stein will be down shortly. She offers Hemingway a glass of eau-de-vie, which he drinks happily. (full context)
Chapter 13: The Man Who Was Marked for Death
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...“the best and most expensive” restaurant in the Boulevard St.-Michel quarter. They eat oysters and drink a bottle of white wine. Hemingway feels that Walsh is “conning” him, but he tucks... (full context)
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...Years later, Hemingway meets Joyce on the Boulevard St.-German and the two men have a drink. Joyce asks if Walsh promised Hemingway the award, and Joyce admits that Walsh promised it... (full context)
Chapter 14: Evan Shipman at the Lilas
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...coat is “somewhere safe” because he left a poem in it. The men order two whiskies. They discuss Dostoevsky and the merits of Constant Garnett’s translation of War and Peace. Evan... (full context)
Chapter 16: Winter in Shrums
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...go skiing; one of the slopes leads to “a beautiful inn” with an ornately decorated drinking room. Bumby is looked after by a “beautiful dark-haired girl” while Hemingway and Hadley explore.... (full context)
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...and Hadley are “always hungry” while skiing and every meal becomes “a great event.” They drink beer, wine, kirsch, and Schnapps. They have brought books from Sylvia’s bookstore and sometimes they... (full context)
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...these winters, and Herr Lent tells him that the local peasants nickname him “the Black Kirsch-drinking Christ.” Hemingway fondly remembers the smell of the pine trees, the tracks of hares and... (full context)
Chapter 17: Scott Fitzgerald
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...is intrigued to finally meet Scott, but embarrassed when Scott starts praising Hemingway’s writing. They drink a bottle of champagne and Hemingway is happy when Scott’s “speech” comes to an end.... (full context)
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...Scott is right. Scott scolds Hemingway for trying to make “mysteries” just because he’s been drinking. (full context)
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...and happy” about the book. They sit outside on the terrace of the Lilas and drink whisky sodas. Scott explains that his wife, Zelda, has abandoned their car because of “bad... (full context)
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...the situation to the conductor and buys a second-class ticket. While on the train, Hemingway drinks a bottle of wine and thinks it was stupid of him to accept a trip... (full context)
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...times” what it would if they ate elsewhere. It is clear that Scott has been drinking before coming to meet Hemingway, and Hemingway suggests they both get a whisky. After this,... (full context)
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...they finally arrive back in Lyon, they have a lavish lunch of roast chicken and wine, which they drink from the bottle. Scott confesses to Hemingway that he is worried about... (full context)
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...him that he is “perfectly O.K..” Hemingway suggests that he order them a lemonade and whisky, but Scott remains anxious and insists that Hemingway ring for a thermometer. Hemingway feels tired... (full context)
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...apart since being married. Hemingway doesn’t quite believe this, but says nothing. Scott downs his whisky sour and the waiter brings two more drinks. After Scott calls Zelda, he enthusiastically tells... (full context)
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...it hard to understand how Scott stayed with her. For dinner, they eat snails and drink wine; then Scott’s call from Zelda comes, and afterward he doesn’t want to eat anything.... (full context)
Chapter 18: Hawks Do Not Share
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...terrible hangover. The night before Scott and Zelda fought because he didn’t want to keep drinking. Hemingway notes that Zelda’s “dark blonde hair had been ruined temporarily” by a bad dye... (full context)
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...Scott to find time to write, and after his trip to the Riviera he is drunk more often, both in the day and at night. He is rude to “his inferiors”... (full context)
Chapter 19: A Matter of Measurements
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...an important question to ask, and that Hemingway must answer truthfully. At the restaurant, Scott drinks wine, but doesn’t seem to be affected by it. The two men discuss writing and... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Birth of a New School
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...to work, but he continues to argue with the person, a “tall young fat man” drinking a beer. Hemingway tries to keep writing as the young man taunts him. The man’s... (full context)
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...to write criticism. Hemingway advises that “creation’s probably overrated” and suggests that they have a drink; the young man accepts. The young man confesses that he finds Hemingway’s work “too stark,”... (full context)
Paris Sketches: Secret Pleasures
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...declares that he is “never going to get a haircut” and he and Hadley order wine to celebrate. Hadley admits that it will take a long time for Hemingway’s hair to... (full context)
Paris Sketches: The Education of Mr. Bumby
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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... (full context)