Literature Study GuidesA Moveable FeastFord Madox Ford And The Devils Disciple Summary

A Moveable Feast | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Moveable Feast | Ford Madox Ford and the Devil's Disciple | Summary

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Summary

Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson have recently moved into another apartment at 113 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. They're near the Closerie des Lilas, one of the best cafés in Paris. Poets regularly visit the Closerie des Lilas. Cafés, to writers, are "substitutes for immortality." But Hemingway sees few poets there, only older men he imagines are "scientists or savants." Several men at the café wear ribbons and medals signifying military service, and Hemingway admires how well the men are overcoming their war injuries. He and others find it hard to trust anyone, especially anyone who hasn't fought in the war.

One evening Hemingway is working outside the Closerie des Lilas when the writer Ford Madox Ford sits down beside him. Hemingway doesn't like Ford's appearance or objectionable smell, and tries to focus on his outdoor surroundings. Ford invites Hemingway to a gathering at the Bal Musette and doesn't believe Hemingway when he says he's familiar with the spot. Ford then brags about nonverbally insulting, or "cutting," a man walking by and confuses Hemingway. (Ford claims the man is writer Hilaire Belloc.) When Hemingway asks the purpose of cutting people, Ford answers, "A gentleman will always cut a cad." The two debate which men are gentlemen and which are cads. After Ford leaves, a friend joins Hemingway at the café, and Hemingway points out Hilaire Belloc. His friend says the man is actually Aleister Crowley, "the diabolist" and the "devil's disciple" of the title.

Analysis

Writing is a private craft, but in this chapter Ernest Hemingway emphasizes the importance of a writer being seen publicly. To achieve "immortality," a writer should be observed and remembered. Group identity among the Parisian writers, like individual identity, is strong. As Hemingway writes here about his Parisian colleagues, he gives them immortality in his own way in his pages.

Hemingway intensely disliked Ford Madox Ford, a fellow World War I veteran. The heavy breathing Hemingway complains about was a result of Ford's being attacked with poison gas in the war. Though Hemingway reveres the disabled veterans surrounding him, he cannot muster the same respect for Ford. Ford, like Ezra Pound, encouraged younger writers and published young Hemingway's work in The Transatlantic Review. The falling out between the two writers may have been a dispute over money, making the older Hemingway write uncharitably about Ford after the disagreement (similar to creating a repellent character based on Ford in a novel).

Here, Ford is described as a physically repulsive and rude interloper. He doesn't respect waiters—Hemingway judges both Ford and Fitzgerald on the basis of their treatment of waiters at restaurants. Ford's insult to author Hilaire Belloc, mistakenly identified is profoundly embarrassing to Hemingway, who proceeds to mock Ford in the dialogue about "gentlemen" and "cads." Ford is British, and his idea of "cads" amuses Hemingway. Young Hemingway enjoys bringing up a series of dead, respected British writers—John Donne, Anthony Trollope, Christopher Marlowe, and others—to see if Ford will call them "cads." The chapter brings darkly comic relief, including the mistaken identity of poet, occultist, and magician Aleister Crowley.

This sketch also mentions World War I more candidly than others in the book. Hemingway feels solidarity with the veterans at the Closerie des Lilas and recognizes the permanent destruction the war brought to others. His own wounding seems never far away in his mind.

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