Une Génération Perdue

December 27th, 2006 § 0 comments

I just finished reading A Movable Feast by Hemingway, which was read upon the recommendation of Adam Gopnik as a good book about Paris. While I found the book more about him than Paris, it did turn out to be very interesting. In general, I do not like Hemingway very much, I am not usually very engaged with his stories nor his manner of telling them, and I can’t help but notice that his very large ego, or what I imagine to be his very large ego, creeps across every page. In case some of you don’t know or care, the book is about Paris when he lived there in the early 1920’s, his life, and the “fictitious” friends and writers he knew such as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Scott Fitzgerald.

The book did take some getting into. I hated it at first as his account of Paris is even more over the top romantic and idealized than even I allow myself to be about Monty, and I find his detailed accounts of food and drink rather tedious. I did enjoy his recollections of all the famous writers of his génération perdue, he seemed to dislike almost everyone. His style I find easy to ignore, although sometimes he hits upon some great description or tells an anecdote perfectly.

“She was angry at Ezra Pound because he had sat down too quickly on a small, fragile, and doubtless, uncomfortable chair, that it is quite possible he had been given on purpose, and had either cracked or broken it.”

The end of the book took quite a turn, however, a turn which brought the romance of the place and time back to the truth. Many of his friends and fellow writers died even before he killed himself, and putting ego aside I realized that many of their stories were very sad. In a few paragraphs he summed up the failure of his life, writing, and marriage, after he had became famous and wealthy. The last line of the book, “but this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy” makes me wonder if all of history repeats itself, and generation after generation make the same mistakes.

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