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Hemingway Adventure

Paris, France (first day)

Paris, France 
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The Lost Generation: Hemingway and the circle of ex-pat friends he later immortalised in The Sun Also Rises. More friends, including Harold Loeb, the model for Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises, on the left, Hemingway in the centre and Hadley on the right.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureA couple of doors down the street was the publisher of a remarkable book called Kiki’s Memoirs, the saucy reminiscences of the lover of Man Ray, illustrated with her own drawings and copious nude photographs. Hemingway was persuaded to write an introduction to the book (something he did very rarely). Disguised in his playful anti-grammatical style was a sharp epitaph on the life that had once drawn him to these busy streets.

Kiki became monumental and Montparnasse became rich, prosperous, brightly lighted, dancinged, shredded-wheated, grape-nuts-ed or grapenutted (take your choice, gentlemen, we have all these breakfast foods now) and they sold caviar at the Dôme, well, the Era for what it was worth, and personally I don’t think it was worth much, was over.

That was written in 1929. By then Paris had gone sour for Hemingway. Many of his friends were alienated by their portrayals in The Sun Also Rises, and his own output had become bogged down by a novel, provisionally titled Jimmy Breen, which was never to be published.

Eight years earlier it was all optimism, and as I turn out of the rue Delambre and leave behind the celebrated cafés of Montparnasse - the Rotonde, Select and the Dôme, I find myself in a place where Hemingway seemed unequivocally happy, the Jardin du Luxembourg, where in the winter ‘the trees were sculpture without their leaves’, and the fountains still blow in the bright light. Hemingway had so little money in those early years that he used to walk through here to avoid passing restaurants or cafés. Like much of the central area of Paris, it still seems anchored in the past.

I can reasonably believe, then, that Hemingway would have seen pretty much what I see around me as I walk the neatly brushed gravel paths, out of the western gate of the Jardin through a formidable girdle of black iron railings, across the rue Guynemer and run the gauntlet of six-storey apartment blocks that flank both sides of the rue de Fleurus. He would have stopped most times at Number 27, for this is where Gertrude Stein lived.
Paris, France 
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The Luxembourg Gardens, where 'the trees were sculpture without their leaves.'
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Paris, France (first day)
  • Country/sea: France
  • Place: Paris
  • Book page no: 75

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  • Around the World in 80 Days