A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

by Ernest Hemingway

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:52 am

The theme of hunger is very prevalent in A Moveable Feast. What do you think of the contrast between the theme of hunger that runs through the book and the title of the book?
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~

Unread postby Bix » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:30 am

I think that by giving the book the title A Moveable Feast, Hemingway shows he has come to feel that Paris did ultimately feed the hungers - whether the actual physical hunger for food and drink or the yearnings of the soul or the senses for that indefinable something. He even titled the last chapter "There is Never Any End to Paris", which also indicates to me that he is remembering those times as good and fulfilling times for him. (But maybe I shouldn't go to the last chapter yet?)
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~

Unread postby Buster » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:34 am

A possible way the title could be interpreted: After Hemingway sates himself with one "meal", (a wife, gambling, a group of friends), obsession compels him to move on to the next "feast". The novelty-seeking writer looks for, and finds, the next stimulating situation.

Alternatively, it could be construed as meaning the "feast", which I interpret as anything that will fulfill his internal need, is constantly moving away from him. A far darker view, it means he can never be satisfied.

Do you think he is moving toward the feast? The feast is moving away from him? Or that, maybe, the feast can actually be taken along - that satisfying the sort of hunger he is feeling can only be accomplished by taking in what is all around you, wherever you might be.

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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~

Unread postby Bix » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:40 am

Interesting points, Buster. I guess I had always just taken it for granted that he meant that it was a feast that you could take with you anywhere you went and partake of through memories at any time in your life.
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~

Unread postby Parlez » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:32 am

On the title page of my copy of the book (which may or may not be included in subsequent copies, though I can't think why not) there's this quote, made by Hemingway to a friend in 1950:

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

As memoirs go, it only natural for AMF to be a reflection on the past. The tone of the book is nostalgic, much in the same way HST's wave speech is nostalgic. There are just certain times in a person's life that, in retrospect, turn out to be high points - crests of a wave, feasts, whatever - that reside brightly in the memory. And certain places too, like Paris for Hemingway and San Francisco for Hunter.

I think in AMF Hemingway was trying to capture the place mostly, but like most places, it depends of a combination of forces - human and environmental - coming together and forming a constellation of energy to make it lively, almost magical. So he not only looks back on the place and the time, but also on his own participation in the scene...the way he was back then, before he got corrupted.
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:07 pm

My original thought was that no matter where you went in Paris at the time you could find "food"...food for the soul, food as artistic inspiration, food for the mind. I did a very quick bit of research on the phrase and discovered it originally was used in reference to religious holidays that were on changeable days and involved feasting, like the date of Easter. I copied this quote:

'Moveable feast' has been adopted into the language as a metaphor for things which change over time. It isn't clear when this took place though. The phrase was certainly in use in the USA, without reference to a religious holy day, by 1882.


The article went on to say that the title of Hemingway's book furthered this definition in popular culture. If this is the context Heminway was using for his title, that makes me look at it in a different way completely. Maybe that there was so much going on in Paris at that time, such as explosion of art and literature, things were constantly changing?

P.S. Bix, you are right about the last chapter...thanks for asking.
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby Liz » Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:11 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote: If this is the context Heminway was using for his title, that makes me look at it in a different way completely. Maybe that there was so much going on in Paris at that time, such as explosion of art and literature, things were constantly changing?

Aye, and to have been there during this explosion, right in the thick of it, would make a person quite lucky, as he said in the quote on the title page. I'm sure I would feel the same way, and would carry the memories with me for the rest of my life.
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:57 pm

Bix and Parlez, I think you are on the right track. Mostly because of the quote Parlez repeated about Paris being a Moveable Feast. DITHOT, interesting background info you uncovered about the phrase. I really had not thought at all about the frequent mention of "hunger" in the book combined with "feast" in the title. So I may have to sit and think about this a bit more. Buster certainly raised some interesting points!

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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby gemini » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:45 pm

The title to me always meant a place full of artist of all kinds, writers, painters, poets, sculptors, and that Paris supplied them all with food for their imaginations. The hunger was synonymous with creativity, whether lack of food stimulated it or appreciation of others work did. It was a gathering place for creativity because of its beauty and that the climate at the time drew like people. I do think Hemingway meant by movable, that it was a lasting feeling because he obviously took the feeling with him since he wrote about it so many years later.
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:27 pm

gemini wrote:The hunger was synonymous with creativity, whether lack of food stimulated it or appreciation of others work did. It was a gathering place for creativity because of its beauty and that the climate at the time drew like people. I do think Hemingway meant by movable, that it was a lasting feeling because he obviously took the feeling with him since he wrote about it so many years later.

Gemini, I totally agree with what you say here. I think the hunger was synonymous with creativity in Paris in the 20s. And he did take those memories with him.

Buster wrote:Do you think he is moving toward the feast? The feast is moving away from him? Or that, maybe, the feast can actually be taken along - that satisfying the sort of hunger he is feeling can only be accomplished by taking in what is all around you, wherever you might be.

I’ve been thinking about this, and I’m wondering if this could translate into all the adventures that Hem had. It seems that he tried to take in whatever was around him and live it to the fullest…..whether it be safaris in Africa, armed service, deep sea fishing or immersing himself in the art explosion in Paris in the 20s.
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Re: A Moveable Feast Question #12 ~ Hunger as a Theme

Unread postby Buster » Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:39 pm

Buster wrote:
Do you think he is moving toward the feast? The feast is moving away from him? Or that, maybe, the feast can actually be taken along - that satisfying the sort of hunger he is feeling can only be accomplished by taking in what is all around you, wherever you might be.


Liz replied:
I’ve been thinking about this, and I’m wondering if this could translate into all the adventures that Hem had. It seems that he tried to take in whatever was around him and live it to the fullest…..whether it be safaris in Africa, armed service, deep sea fishing or immersing himself in the art explosion in Paris in the 20s.


That's exactly what I was trying to get at - thanks for clarifying.


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