Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets
When my friend Bill gave me “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway for my birthday I thought “gosh, I read that when I was in my twenties – do I need to read it again?”
Turned out, like so many things I read in my literature-laden twenties, the answer is yes, I DO need to read them again. And rereading the literature that was the tame companion to my wild years is a double treat in the here and now – I get the pleasure of rediscovering great writing and it also so viscerally brings back those years to me. Tonight I was singing “Dark Side of the Moon” and wondering why and I decided I could give credit to Hemingway for that!
But on to the matter at hand – “A Moveable Feast”. It’s Hemingway’s memoir of his Paris years – covering HIS twenties, written when he was around the age I am now. A nostalgic look back at a wild, and very alive time for him, a time in which he was alive with creativity, love and youth.
It’s an interesting MC-Escher-like experience – reading Hemingway’s 60-year-old take on his twenties as I look back on my own. He was one of my favorite writers when I was a teen and in my twenties – even after I got hip to feminism and felt like I really should NOT like him – or the Rolling Stones – for their sexist words/lyrics. And I don’t like the sexism or the macho posturing. But in both cases (don’t berate me, feminist sisters!) I have to say – I love the artistry if not the sentiments.
A Moveable Feast, however is far from Hemingway’s best writing. And it’s petty at times – very, very petty. But the beauty lies in the recapturing of the lost innocence of youth – that’s the best of it. The gossip about the incredible literati of Paris in the twenties is fun, too.
The pathos lies in Hemingway’s achingly portrayed regret over the loss of his first marriage due to his own infidelity. His remorse and grief about it is palpable and that was surprising to me. Much as I enjoyed his writing, I never found him to be the kind of man I’d like to know in any way – all that macho posturing and sturm und drang. But I wonder if taking the time to write about those early years, realizing what he had and what he’d lost – if that was the run-up to his suicide shortly after this book was finished.
Like most people, I have my regrets, too. Gretchen Rubin wrote about regret in her wonderful blog, The Happiness Project . this part really interested me:
“Roese points to studies that asked adults of all ages what, if they could live their life over again, would they do differently? The top four answers, which appeared consistently across many different studies, in the same order, were:
Two of my major regrets have to do with education and parenting (in both cases, the lack thereof) and reading her post made me feel less alone.
Reading “A Moveable Feast” made me realize that while I have mourned early lost loves, I don’t feel consumed by regret, or feel that I’ve made a mess of my life. I think Hemingway did. And after re-reading this book, I think he may have been correct – it’s easy to believe he DID blow it.
Regardless, he was a larger than life kind of guy and I still think “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Farewell to Arms” are masterpieces.
So what’s YOUR take on Hemingway? Love him? Hate him? Have you read this book? And how about regret – got any? How do you handle it? Check out Gretchen Rubin’s blog entry – it’s a good one.