by RJ Smith, October 13, 2022 11:30 PM
If you were asked to picture life as an expatriate in Paris, your mind is likely to drift to one of two images, at once similar and radically different. The first is literary squalor — the starving artist — as depicted in books such as George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. The second is the cafe society associated with figures like F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Straddling both categories is the quintessential Parisian literary expatriate, Ernest Hemingway. In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway writes of walking around Paris with an empty stomach and a head full of ideas, resembling the nameless narrator of the 1890 novel Hunger by Knut Hamsun, whom Hemingway says “taught me to write.”
Before becoming the starving flaneur, Hemingway was the Paris correspondent for the Toronto Star newspaper, a position to which he was appointed at the ripe old age of 22. Hemingway’s articles of this period — written in the Star’s lean, declarative style, which would come to characterize the American’s fiction — are highly revealing of life in Paris a century ago.
In an article titled “A Canadian with $1,000 a Year Can Live Very Comfortably and Enjoyably in Paris,” Hemingway discusses the amount of money required to live well in the City of Light.