For those of you that participated in our discussion of A Moveable Feast, or just read the book I thought you would find this new version of interest.
‘Moveable Feast’ Is Recast by Hemingway Grandson
By MOTOKO RICH
Published: June 27, 2009
Besides its tart portraits of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway’s posthumous memoir of his early days in Paris, “A Moveable Feast,” provides a heart-wrenching depiction of marital betrayal.
The final chapter, “There Is Never Any End to Paris,” is a wistful paean to Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife, whom the writer left for her best friend. The friend, Pauline Pfeiffer, the wealthy woman who became Hemingway’s second wife, is portrayed as something of a wily predator, and it is Hemingway’s “bad luck” that he falls for her.
It turns out that the story behind the editing of the book is nearly as juicy as the tales within it, and has become something of a multigenerational custody battle over how to cast the larger-than-life author’s stormy romantic history.
Mary Hemingway, the writer’s fourth and final wife, was the one who edited the first edition of “A Moveable Feast,” published by Scribner in 1964, cobbling it together from shards of the unfinished manuscript he left behind. She created a final chapter that dealt with the dissolution of Hemingway’s first marriage and the beginning of his relationship with Pauline, building some of it from parts of the book he had indicated he did not want included.
Early next month, Scribner, now an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is publishing a new edition of the book, what it is calling “the restored edition,” and this time it is edited by Seán Hemingway, a grandson of Hemingway and Pauline. Among the changes he has made is removing part of that final chapter from the main body of the book and placing it in an appendix, adding back passages from Hemingway’s manuscript that Seán believes paint his grandmother in a more sympathetic light.
“I think this edition is right to set the record straight,” said Seán Hemingway, 42, who said Mary cut out Hemingway’s “remorse and some of the happiness he felt and his very conflicted views he had about the end of his marriage.”
Scholars are clear that this new edition should not be regarded as definitive any more than the 1964 version. “This book can’t become a sacred text,” said Ann Douglas, a professor of literature at Columbia University, adding that “there can be no final text because there is not one.”
Indeed, scholars and aficionados have long known that Hemingway did not consider his Paris memoir complete at the time of his suicide in 1961. He wrote a letter — though it was not sent until after his death — to his publisher, Charles Scribner, that “it is not to be published the way it is and it has no end.”
But in an essay she wrote for The New York Times Book Review in May 1964, Mary said Hemingway “must have considered the book finished.” Along with Harry Brague, an editor at Scribner, she shaped the manuscript, changing the order of some chapters, and adding others that Hemingway had decided not to include. Most notably, Mary inserted that final chapter about the end of Hemingway’s first marriage.
In fragments of drafts for an introduction that Hemingway never finished — and now published in the new edition — he wrote that he wanted to save some of that material “for the start of another book,” one that would chronicle the “unbelievable happiness” he had with Pauline.
Hemingway committed suicide before he could write that book. Seán, an associate curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who had previously edited anthologies of Hemingway’s writings on war and hunting, worked with manuscripts now housed in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. His new edition, which will be in bookstores as early as this week, is made up of the 19 chapters that Hemingway wanted to include, in the order he had placed them. The remaining 10 chapters are moved into a section called “Additional Paris Sketches.”
Seán said he revised edits that had been made in the first edition, and restored paragraphs that he believed presented his grandmother’s relationship with Hemingway in a more nuanced and truthful way. Seán said that in doing so, he felt he was returning the text closer to the way his grandfather wanted it.
The new version of Pauline’s arrival in Hemingway’s life, titled “The Pilot Fish and the Rich,” and included in the additional Paris sketches, shows Hemingway taking more responsibility for his breakup with Hadley. While the 1964 edition casts him as Pauline’s victim, he shares the blame in the new version.
“For the girl to deceive her friend was a terrible thing, but it was my fault and blindness that this did not repel me,” Hemingway writes in the new edition. “Having become involved in it and being in love I accepted all the blame for it myself and lived with the remorse.”
Patrick Hemingway, Seán’s uncle and a son of Pauline who originally suggested the project to Seán, said he was curious if there had been more material about his mother. “I thought the original edition was just terrible about my mother,” Patrick said by phone from his home in Bozeman, Mont. He was pleased to see that the new edition reminds readers that his father was happy with Pauline. “He’s more human and less self-justifying,” Patrick said.
Patrick, 81, said he did not blame Mary, who died in 1986, for her editing. “I think she did an excellent job, given the circumstances of the time,” he said. But he speculated that Mary, who had had a falling out with Pauline, might have wanted to curry favor with Hadley, who owned the rights to a painting by Miró that Mary wanted. (Hemingway had one other wife, his third, Martha Gellhorn.)
Sandra Spanier, a professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and the general editor of coming volumes of Hemingway’s letters for Cambridge University Press, said she believed the new edition would present a truer picture of Hemingway. “He had a tremendously active conscience, and he was tremendously honest with himself,” said Ms. Spanier.
Scribner is printing 16,000 copies of the new edition and using its release to re-issue all of Hemingway’s novels with new covers.
Hemingway scholars point out that the author himself often revised memories from earlier letters and notebooks. Jacqueline Tournier-Courbin, author of “Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’: The Making of Myth,” said Hemingway “really re-edits the past.”
The new volume includes unpublished material, like accounts of a conversation with Hemingway’s friend, the poet Evan Shipman, and of time he spent with his son Jack in the cafes of Paris.
Some scholars who welcomed the opportunity to look at the new material expressed ambivalence about whether it would improve the literary quality of the book.
“On the one hand you want to know everything he thought whether he wanted it published or not,” said Ms. Douglas. “But gosh, the ’64 edition was a great book already.”
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!