Book Report: "A Moveable Feast": Adversity and Fighting Strategies

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¶ … Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway to the American Dream

"A moveable feast" by Ernest Hemingway is an extremely interesting and at the same time evocative incursion in the life of Paris and some its most worthy characters of the 1920s which have been labeled as the Lost Generation. Typical for Hemingway, the writing is not merely an account of an era, but rather it includes and allures to various other aspects as connected to the line of the story telling. This writing is an account of the lives of some of the most interesting writers of the 20th century as they find their way in literature or, on the contrary, as they master the art of writing. At the same time though, the elements of the story also focus on the way in which the American dream is portrayed in the views of the writers and that of Hemingway.

An important element of the novel is the emphasis given to the American dream as an overall theme of the writing. However, this is not visible and clearly spelled out in the book, but rather the different aspects Hemingway describes throughout allows the reader to hint at the meaning and nature of the American dream. In general, the term "American dream" leads to the idea that all men are equal in the face of challenges and the aspirations and ideals of man can be attained. More precisely, the equal chances all men have been an important incentive for the people wishing to succeed in America. However, for the novel, the hint to the American dream is done thru the use of several themes and discussions that lead to the equal chances of all people. More precisely, Hemingway's stand on poverty, hunger, or friendship lead to his ideas on the American dream.

A significant passage on poverty reveals the author's view on the matter and betrays his approach on it. "But then we did not think ever of ourselves as poor. We did not accept it. We thought we were superior people and other people that we looked down on and rightly mistrusted were rich. It had never seemed strange to me to wear sweatshirts for underwear to keep warm. It only seemed odd to the rich. We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other." This is an important passage from several points-of-view. On the one hand, there is the comparison between the rich and the poor that is visible throughout the novel. Even towards the end of the book, as Hemingway describes a skiing trip, he notes that the previous experiences had been better until the rich people appeared.

The comparison between the rich and the poor as general concepts and given the period of the time is rather important. "During our last year in the mountains new people came deep into our lives and nothing was ever the same again. The winter of the avalanches was like a happy and innocent winter in childhood compared to the next winter, a nightmare winter disguised as the greatest fun of all, and the murderous summer that was to follow. It was that year that the rich showed up." It must be stressed that the 1920s was the period immediately following the First World War and for Western Europe a time of recovery and reconstruction. Also, the first signs of the Lenin Revolution in Russia were being felt in the rest of Europe. The socialist movement fully condemned the discrepancies of the masses and the privileges of the rich strata of the society.

This background however was not necessarily visible in Hemingway's approach as Paris had been a city of extreme culture and social emancipation and hope. However, the author's view on the rich was that while their material resources were more significant, the chances of success were the same, particularly because the poor had more interest in the art of leaving and enjoying themselves. The final sentence of the paragraph mentioned above hints to such a belief. Hemingway would not consider himself poor despite the fact that his financial means were limited. He would take pleasure in the simple endeavors and indulge himself in wining and dining not as a luxury but as what he considered to be a necessity for him to be able to create, "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...." At the same time though, this approach indicates that his belief on equal changes, on rich people being less than superior, fits into the belief of the American dream and the ability to enjoy all opportunities.

Another theme articulated by Hemingway and which relates to the American dream is that of hunger. However, hunger not only in the physical sense, but also as a mental hunger and need for satiety. In one passage, he describes the pleasure given to him by indulging himself in a meal. "I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away...and as I drank their cold liquid...I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans" from this passage, the understanding is that one should live life in its most significant experiences and should take pleasure in the simple actions. The description of this meal points to Hemingway's deep consideration for the process of eating and, as it is seen throughout the memoirs, the issue of hunger is deeply connected to this process.

Hunger is not seen as a mere physical need, although there are areas in this memoirs that lead to hunger as a natural state of being and one resulted from the inability to purchase food. However, the general notion on hunger as elaborated by Hemingway throughout the writing is one of emptiness and the need to fill that void. The void or the feeling of emptiness has many facets, as he describes in one passage, "When we had finished and there was no question of hunger any more the feeling that had been like hunger when we were on the bridge was still there when we caught the bus home. It was there when we came in the room and after had gone to bed and made love in the dark, it was there. When I woke with the windows open and the moonlight on the roofs of the tall houses, it was there." This feeling of hunger therefore can be translated as the need and the chase to be the best one can be and to fulfill his need by creating and experiencing, thus adding to the void that is constantly created as he wrote his stories.

The need to always improve, to take advantage of any opportunity to explore and to gain more experiences, from admiring and describing the cafes in Paris to portraying the city in all its wonder in the spring and in winter, is an important part in the way in which Hemingway's attitude and life concepts are identified. He struggles to achieve greatness, by creating for himself a discipline of hunger, limiting his distractions to the ones that can improve the knowledge base for his creation. He points out that "hunger is good discipline" particularly because it refrains the brain from wasting time to indulge in apparently meaningless acts. However, his friends, and in particular Sylvia Beach who often questioned Hemingway on his eating habits. However, Hemingway's approach to hunger was more a type of emotional discipline and one that would eventually reap benefits from. In this sense, he notes at one point that "I used to wonder if [Cezanne] were hungry too when he painted; but I thought possibly he had only 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" (Hemingway, p69)

This approach on hunger and on poverty betrays a certain sense of need to succeed and improve his condition. Although it must be pointed out that Hemingway, despite the shortcomings of his life, did not consider himself poor or unhappy, he wanted to improve his condition and in fact be the best he could be. From this perspective and taking into account the artistic background he was surrounded by, Hemingway was indeed living the American dream in Paris and in particular the feeling that often fuels the American dream, that of the need to succeed.

The characters of the memoirs are, as mentioned previously, part of the artists of the Lost Generation, some of the most important American and European writers of the 20th century. Paris was in the 1920s a capital of culture and of artistic innovation. An important theme of the memoirs is that related to friendship and the significant emphasis Hemingway places on this throughout.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/moveable-feast-adversity-fighting/5588615.