Literature Study GuidesA Moveable FeastEzra Pound And The Measuring Worm Summary

A Moveable Feast | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Moveable Feast | Ezra Pound and the Measuring Worm | Summary

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Summary

Ernest Hemingway considered his friend Ezra Pound, a writer, to be good and generous. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in a small apartment full of paintings by Japanese artists and by Dorothy herself. Pound likes the works of his friends, a sentiment Hemingway finds "beautiful as loyalty but ... disastrous as judgment." Hemingway simply keeps his mouth shut about art he doesn't like, just as he would never criticize anyone's family members.

Hemingway meets the artist Wyndham Lewis in Pound's studio, where Hemingway is teaching Pound to box. Hemingway thinks Lewis is the nastiest-looking man he's ever seen, describing him as "toe-jam." Gertrude Stein calls Lewis "the Measuring Worm" because he measures every picture he sees to figure out its technique. Hemingway still tries to be Lewis's friend because Lewis is a friend of Pound's.

Analysis

Ernest Hemingway's genuine respect for the kind and generous, yet historically irritable, Ezra Pound is clear in this chapter. Hemingway later praised him for devoting more time to supporting his literary friends, "getting them in magazines and out of jail," than he did to poetry. Pound was also known for his fascination with Chinese and Japanese poetry and culture. The image-centered precision and musicality of Pound's writing was influenced by the Eastern works he read.

When Hemingway compares showing outward appreciation for the work of a friend with showing peace-making kindness to a family member, he sees how the Parisian artistic community has become an extended family to Pound. Hemingway, by contrast, keeps his distance. This expatriate family, which comes and goes, cannot cause "intimate harm." His closer and more volatile relationship with family members (Hemingway will marry four times) leads to much more pain.

Frog-like Wyndham Lewis dresses like a "prewar artist," standing out in the more relaxed 1920s' artistic crowd who wore whatever they wanted. Lewis was a writer and painter who founded vorticism, a pre–World War I art movement similar to cubism in its imitation of the dynamic, industrial world through machine-like shapes. Hemingway considers Lewis a relic of the prewar world, which the modernists are trying to abandon. His "measuring" takes away the instinctual and emotional process of art, reducing art to a scientific activity.

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