Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Paris 1920s

Hemingway Memoir Moveable Feast – On Adultery & the Unfinished Business of Memory

Hemingway is Seated Between His First Wife Hadley and His Second Wife Pauline

Hemingway wrote A Moveable Feast in 1957 through 1960,  but that book is his memoir about the years between 1921 and 1925, when he was married to his first wife Hadley and when the couple had one child and lived in Paris. At the very end of  A Moveable Feast, Hemingway alludes to the fact that he had met another woman and that she had lived in his home for a while before they became intimately involved. For several reasons, I highly recommend reading A Moveable Feast.  First , it is an eloquent prequel to a more current book The Paris Wife, which is historical fiction.

The Paris Wife was published in 2012, which was almost 100 years after Hemingway was married to Hadley, and The Paris Wife is an excellent example of how one person’s memoir can become the fodder for another person’s novel. The Paris Wife begins almost where Hemingway’s Moveable Feast ends.


A Photo of Hemingway and His First Wife Hadley

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A Photo of Hemingway and His Second Wife Pauline

Quotes from A Moveable Feast
Hemingway On His Adulterous Relationship with Pauline

“. . .we had already been infiltrated by another rich using the oldest trick there is. It is that an unmarried young woman becomes the temporary best friend of another young woman who is married, goes to live with the husband and wife and then unknowingly, innocently and relentingly sets out to marry the husband. [p. 209]
. . .
“The husband has two attractive girls around when he has finished work. One is new and strange and if he has bad luck he gets to love them both.
“Then, instead of the two of them and their child, there are three of them. First it is stimulating and it goes on that way for a while. All thins truly wicked start from an innocence. So you live day by day and enjoy what you have and do not worry. You lie and hate it and it destroys you and every day is more dangerous, but you live day to day as in a war.

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Hemingway and Mr. Bumby [Jack]

“When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her. She was smiling, the sun on her lovely face tanned by the snow and sun, beautifully built, her hair red gold in the sun, grown out all winter awkwardly and beautifully, and Mr. Bumby standing with her, blond and chunky and with winter cheeks looking like a good Vorarlberg boy.
. . .
“I loved her and I loved no one else and we had a lovely magic [p. 210] time while we were alone.
. . .
“That was the end of the first part of Paris. Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed.
. . .
“But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.” Hemingway, Ernest. Moveable Feast, pgs. 209-211.

In almost the same way that Hemingway had written many years before her, McLain makes reference to the affair with Pauline that insidiously evolved in Hadley’s home and almost under her nose. The writing in  McLain’s Preface to The Paris Wife seems like an extension of the comments that Hemingway made about his adulterous relationship with Pauline, and in that regard, I believe that McLain has produced an excellent example of historical fiction–one that is worthy of studyingmore carefully.

Quotes from The Paris Wife

“This isn’t a detective story–not hardly. I don’t want to say, Keep watch for the girl who will come along and ruin everything, but sh’s coming anyway, set on her course in a gorgeous chipmunk coat and fine shoes, her sleek brown hair bobbed so close to her well-made head she’ll seem like a pretty otter in my kitchen. Her easy smile. Her fast smart talk [p. xi] … Ernest will read his book and care nothing for her. Not at first. And the tea will boil in the teapot, and I’ll tell a story about a girl she and I both knew a hundred years ago in St. Louis, and we’ll feel like quick and natural friends while across the yard, in the sawmill, a dog will start barking and keep barking and he won’t stop for anything.” McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife, pgs. xi-xii.

A List of Hemingway’s Wives

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Hemingway was married to Hadley Richardson from 1921 – 1927

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Hemingway was married to Pauline Pfeiffer from 1927 – 1940

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Hemingway was married to Martha Gelhorn from 1940 – 1945

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Hemingway married Mary Welsh from 1946 until . . .
The above photo was taken in 1959 –  Spain,

I read A Moveable Feast, and  I read The Paris Wife immediately after I read Feast, and I  had questions about Why. . .

Why did Hemingway, several wives and several years later, feel compelled to write A Moveable Feast?

For several years, Hemingway worked on his book A Memorable Feast, but he finished it when he was married to his fourth wife Mary Welsh. The book was first published in 1964, In a Note inside the book, Mary Welsh said the following:

“Ernest started writing this book in Cuba in the autumn of 1957, worked on it in Ketchum, Idaho, in the winter of 1958-59, took it with him to Spain when we went there in April, 1959, and brought it back with him to Cuba and then to Ketchum late that fall. He finished the book in the spring of 1960 , Cuba….
It concerns the years 1921 to 1926 in Paris.” M. H. Note added to the front of A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway finished the book A Moveable Feast in the spring of 1960 . In 1961, Hemingway bought a home in Ketchum, Idaho, and he committed suicide there in July of 1961. 

I have only begun to research these facts, but it would seem to me that even though Hemingway was unfaithful to Hadley and even though his adultery ended his marriage, Hemingway’s divorce did not stop Hemingway from continuing to think about Hadley–probably not until his death.

William Faulkner said:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

I believe that Hemingway’s past with Hadley was never past, and I believe that he carried his Unfinished Hadley Business with him the rest of his life. As I read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, I noticed that he made several comments about how much that he had loved Hadley. I believe that Hemingway never quit loving Hadley. At the very least, he never completely ended his business with her.

Most of us would like to forget or to bury some of the chapters of our pasts, but that is not actually possible. It didn’t work for Hemingway, and it doesn’t work for us either. After Hemingway and Hadley divorced, they only saw each other two more times, and those meetings were short. On one of the occasions, Hemingway and Hadley  accidentally bumped into each other.

Image result for hemingway and jack

Hemingway had an exciting life. He lived and hunted all over the world. He had numerous extra-marital affairs, and he was married four times. Hemingway partied hard and he drank excessively. The acclaimed author probably tried everything possible to forget parts of his past, but he could not do that. Finally, he wrote his memoir about his Hadley years, but Hemingway’s memoir did not solve his problem, and his memoir did not undo all of the missteps that Hemingway made after Hadley. When Hemingway walked out of his life with Hadley and his first son Jack, a gate was erected between his Hadley years and the rest of his life. In his mind’s eye, he could still see those years and he was obviously always bothered by them, but nothing that he did pulled down the gate that prevented his return to his past relationships.

It would seem that in writing A Moveable Feast that Hemingway was trying to finish his Hadley business. Perhaps if he had explored those memories and had written his memoir sooner, it might have helped. It would appear, however, that Hemingways’ efforts were too late. Hemingway shot himself a year after he finished writing A Memorable Feast. A Memorable Feast was published three years later.

©Jacki Kellum September 27, 2016


The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein Memoir – Free Ebook – Talks about Stein’s Relationship with Artists and Writers in Paris

The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (1933) Free Ebook Here
Author: Gertrude Stein on Project Gutenberg Australia

“The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was written in 1933 by Gertrude Stein in the guise of an autobiography authored by Alice B. Toklas, who was her lover. It is a fascinating insight into the art scene in Paris as the couple were friends with Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. They begin the war years in England but return to France, volunteering for the American Fund for the French Wounded, driving around France, helping the wounded and homeless. After the war Gertrude has an argument with T. S. Eliot after he finds one of her writings inappropriate. They become friends with Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway. It was written to make money and was indeed a commercial success. However, it attracted criticism, especially from those who appeared in the book and didn’t like the way they were depicted.” Amazon


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