A Moveable Feast | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Moveable Feast | Key Figure Analysis


Ernest Hemingway

Called "Tatie" by his wife and "Hem" by his friends, Hemingway is enthusiastic and hardworking, eager to both to sell his work and make it the best it can be. While enjoying Paris's beauty and the entertainment it offers, he tries to balance his love of leisure activities with a need to support himself and his wife. Often critical of other writers' work, appearances, and personalities, Hemingway can be unkind, even cruel, in his assessments of fellow writers, seeing both cooperation and competition in the Paris literary scene. He respects established writers such as James Joyce and Ezra Pound.

Hadley Richardson

Hemingway describes Hadley as the book's heroine: eager, kind, and devoted to her young husband. She shares recreational pursuits with him, like skiing and going to horse races, and adapts easily and happily to their restricted budget. In Paris she believes their marriage will last forever but is also aware happy times and experiences come to an end. The older author Hemingway associates Hadley with domestic companionship and regrets having lost it as he looks back on these years.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald, fascinated by wealth and decadence, is known for writing about the 1920s' "Jazz Age." Hemingway depicts Fitzgerald as talented but vulnerable, with a mean streak. For instance, Fitzgerald dislikes the French and is rude to waiters. He drinks heavily, often to the point of incoherence. Hemingway realizes his friend's alcoholism is related to the constant pressures of his marriage to an unstable and destructive woman who encourages him to drink and go to parties rather than work. Fitzgerald adapts his writing to make it more marketable, a practice of which Hemingway disapproves.

Gertrude Stein

Stein is depicted as an older, wiser influence on the young Hemingway but not always a positive one. Stein is shrewd and intelligent, providing critical feedback for Hemingway's work and giving him advice on how to succeed. She is also ruthless and judgmental; she refuses, for example, to invite guests back who mention James Joyce too often. She craves official publication and recognition. Though her argumentative nature causes her to sever friendships, Stein is still the essential person to know in the Parisian literary world, and writers maintain relationships with her to help their careers just as she maintains certain friendships to help hers.

Ezra Pound

Pound is portrayed as kind, good-hearted, and generous to young writers; humble despite his great talent. Hemingway considers him "sort of a saint," although he thinks Pound can be "irascible," or easily angered. Pound introduces Hemingway to many writers and frequently helps writers through financial and emotional hurdles.

Sylvia Beach

To Hemingway, Beach is "kind, cheerful and interested"; in fact, he has never known anyone nicer. The daughter of an American clergyman, she is a sociable business owner who gives book recommendations to her patrons and who unites the cosmopolitan Parisian literary community. She is generous to Hemingway and encourages him when he worries his fiction will never sell.

Ford Madox Ford

According to Hemingway, Ford is unbearable to be around. He has poor personal hygiene, enjoys insulting, or "cutting," people on the street, and is a habitual liar. However, as the editor of a major publication, The Transatlantic Review, Ford is influential on the literary scene.

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