An American in Paris

Ernest Hemingway’s unfinished Parisian novel, A Moveable Feast, first published in 1964, will be re-released this summer. But it will be “restored,” with previously omitted sections returned to the text. Christopher Hitchens assesses the new version in The Atlantic, asking, “What is it exactly that explains the continued fascination of this rather slight book? Obviously, it is an ur-text of the American literary fascination with Paris.” Hitchens revisits the famous, “supremely unsatisfactory” scene in which Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald go to a restaurant bathroom to, um, measure up, and enjoys a nostalgic trip around Paris with Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas. “Most of all, though,” Hitchens writes, “I believe that A Moveable Feast serves the purpose of a double nostalgia: our own as we contemplate a Left Bank that has since become a banal tourist enclave in a Paris where the tough and plebeian districts are gone, to be replaced by seething Muslim banlieues all around the periphery; and Hemingway’s at the end of his distraught days, as he saw again the ‘City of Light’ with his remaining life still ahead of him rather than so far behind."