A Taste of a Feast

More importantly, personally of course, is the fact that I have been in Paris since last Saturday. As recuperation from the day's mad rambles I have been reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast - his memoir of Paris in the 20s, or more correctly, of his account of 1920s Paris as a young and struggling writer.

Before getting to France, I felt I needed to 'prepare' for the trip. (It is France after all.) 'Prepare', in my book, is defined as - to read as much as possible on the subject. I was intrigued by the fact that a memoir about an age in Paris long gone is still referenced in almost every general book or guide on Paris.

The books begins with a quote from a letter that Hemingway wrote to a friend:

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.

That was arresting enough. Yet, I could not read it before I left since I had to do the stuff that pays the rent and which defrays the cost of getting to France. In retrospect it was infinitely better not to have read it before.

I am trying to figure out why this book appeals and enthralls me so much. Much of it appeal lies perhaps in the fact that the book is a sort of a mirror. Like Hemingway, I find myself in Paris, in my 20s, recently married, with wife, and with a rather thin wallet (done thinner by the weak greenback). When Hemingway writes that on a hungry stomach he appreciated the paintings in Luxembourg museum better, I not only understand it but also know it. Then there are times when the taste and sheer delight of my meal and the wine of the afternoon come alive as I read an account of his meal years ago.

The book is a wonderful dessert at the end of a marvelous feast that is Paris. It is one of the few books that one is lucky to have read at the right age, place and time.
What I have right now is simply a taste of Paris. On Paris, later. For now, I realise it's really important to first savor the taste.

1 comment:

Ashutosh said...

"I was intrigued by the fact that a memoir about an age in Paris long gone is still referenced in almost every general book or guide on Paris. "

Not to mention that many Parisians still think that that age exists and they rule the world, and that a fawning world is worthy enough to wallow at the feet of their high culture.

But I do agree it would be a fine place to be. We have to give it to French cinema, perfume, and nuclear energy powered electricity, all of which I tremendously admire. And Bill Maher's take on France is brilliant and true:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKS0yISz6xQ

I am sure you had a great time. If only they could pronounce the way they spell.