Reflections on a Paris Left Behind
October 19, 2013 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Even Hemingway, so easily spoofed, raved about the oysters. But he knew something of himself, and something of this extraordinary city, and what it gave to him. “There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other,” he wrote. “Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.” Yet then he added, with just the right soupçon of sadness: “But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”
posted by caddis (8 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
QI on Paris Syndrome
posted by lazaruslong at 1:46 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Everybody loves Hem, but Henry Miller's Opus Pistorum is the Paris book for me.
posted by chavenet at 1:49 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

City of love.

Also down and out aptly describes the Paris I know. Then again as a kiwi homelessness has never really been an issue.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 2:05 PM on October 19, 2013

How is it that we have here "Notre-Dame de Paris" and "Sacré-Coeur"?

What is it with these people and their spare hyphens that they need to jam them into everything?
posted by Wolof at 4:12 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Adam Gopnik, a New Yorker writer, finds “the Parisian achievement” to have created, in the 19th century, two concepts of society: “the Haussmannian idea of bourgeois order and comfort, and the avant-garde of ‘la vie de bohème.’ ” While these two societies seemed to be at war, he suggests, in fact they were “deeply dependent on each other.”

This view/idea of the bohemian and the bourgeois cultures twisted together into an odd symbiotic relationship is explored in detail in Jerrold Seigel's excellent 1999 book, Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930. It's fun reading if you are curious about the kooky exploits of decadent artists and journalists.
posted by ovvl at 4:34 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I was kinda disappointed by 'The Moveable Feast' when I read it years ago, it just seemed like young Ernie was doing an awkward and earnest creative writing diary.

Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco is way more interesting and thought-provoking. (note: includes some gentle teasing of American ex-pats slow on picking up the French language after moving to Paris).
posted by ovvl at 4:49 PM on October 19, 2013

Thanks for posting this. Great links!
posted by KokuRyu at 5:20 PM on October 19, 2013

When you go to Paris, of course you'll want to see the Louvre (Godard shows you how to do it) and the usual tourist traps, but I would urge you to spend as much time as possible wandering the side streets, especially on the Left Bank (because Haussmann destroyed most of the weird winding old lanes on the other side of the river), and investigating whatever catches your eye. When I was there you could just walk through most entry doors and explore courtyards and apartment buildings—I actually walked up the stairs of 74 rue du cardinal Lemoine and knocked on the door of Hem's old apartment, but nobody answered—but this was in the 1980s, before the International War on Terror, and you probably can't do that anymore. Anyway, get your head out of the guidebook and see as much of the real, human stuff as still survives.
posted by languagehat at 7:50 AM on October 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

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