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Jan 29 2013

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no escaping Hemingway on the left bank

I wonder if Hemingway ever wrote at this table…

On the weekend some French friends of mine, inspired by the recent exhibition at the Grand Palais, Les Bohèmes, wanted to walk around the left bank. We ended up having lunch in La Rotonde, where I couldn’t resist doing a little writing. Opened in 1911, this cafe was for a long time the meeting place of painters such as Modigliani and Vlaminck. Between the two world wars it was the smoke-filled favoured haunt of newspaper columnists and reporters, as well as other writers, including Hemingway.

My favourite literary allusion to La Rotonde is the one in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. In that book, he writes that if you get in a cab in Paris and ask the driver to take you to ‘a cafe’, you will always be driven to La Rotonde.

The left bank is well known for its connections to Hemingway, and his A Moveable Feast is rich in descriptions of his life there, and the many cafes and other addresses  he used to frequent, including Le Select where he often went for coffee in the mornings.  I recently read a ‘restored edition’, of A Moveable Feast, edited by one of his sons and a grandson, which includes material that Hemingway’s last wife had cut out of earlier versions of the book.

But if you’ve read that, and would like a view of those years from the perspective of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, a convincing and richly-imagined version of it is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.escapetoparis.com/2013/01/no-escaping-hemingway-on-the-left-bank/

1 comment

  1. Barbara

    A very interesting tour for Hemingway lovers, I must say!

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