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Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Fashion Regained

March 16, 2016 | by

Looking for Proust’s muse in Paris.

The Comtesse Élisabeth Greffulhe.

After making a careful study of contemporary fashion plates, Baudelaire came to the conclusion that one couldn’t examine clothes apart from the individual wearing them. “You might as well admire the tattered rags hung up as slack and lifeless as the skin of St. Bartholomeu,” he wrote in his essay “In Praise of Cosmetics.” In order to “recover the light and movement of life,” clothes needed to be animated by a living body, and it was only on this living body that they were to be understood. One wonders what he would’ve made of the nascent trend of the fashion exhibition, in which the fashions of yesteryear appear on mannequins, those motionless abstractions of the human figure.

La Mode retrouvée,” now at the Musée de la Mode in Paris, and coming in September to New York, uses clothes as a sort of Pompeiian ash in order to sketch the person who once filled them out. In this case, it’s the Comtesse Élisabeth Greffulhe (1860–1952), who was by reputation the most fashionable woman of her time. At her salon on the Rue d’Astorg, an integral part of the political and artistic milieux, she arranged for what was thought to be the impossible Russian-Franco alliance, as well as the reception of Fauré, Wagner, Isadora Duncan, and the Ballets Russes in Paris. Historians of the era have argued that no patron did more for music than she. And this at a time when, no matter the fact that she was married into wealth and rank, she had neither rights nor property as her own, as was the case for all women under the civil code of the Third Republic. Read More »

Protection

March 16, 2016 | by

Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse, Porteurs de farine. Scène parisienne, 1885.

Before I traveled to France this week, I made myself go back and read my diaries from the time I’d lived there, years ago. I had avoided rereading them ever since, and I was relieved to find, in my actual words, very little of the sadness I knew lurked between the lines. I’d said plenty about all the different jobs I did, about the people I taught and the children I nannied and the soup kitchen at the local church. There were details about deals I’d gotten late in the day from the vegetable vendors and stuff I’d found discarded by the side of the street. Well, I was never very good at being young. Read More »

La Sagesse des Femmes

March 15, 2016 | by

Comtesse Anna-Élisabeth de Noailles, 1922.

“Never saw him write even the shortest note standing up,” Proust’s housekeeper Celeste Albaret wrote. Proust, it seems, spent the better part of his day—and the last three years of his life—in his spartan, cork-lined bedroom. He wrote, according to his biographer Diana Fuss, “from a semi-recumbent position, suspended midway between the realms of sleeping and waking using his knees as a desk.”

His bedchamber has been fully reconstructed at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris’s Marais neighborhood. This is apt; when forced to move from 102 Boulevard Haussmann later in life, the author was at pains to keep his environment intact. An exact copy, the Carnavalet installation is small and snug. According to Albaret, Proust wanted no distractions whatsoever from his writing, nothing extraneous in the room. Writing implements were arranged close at hand on a series of occasional tables; everything else was simple and unadorned. Read More »

The Paris Review in Paris

March 14, 2016 | by

From the cover of our Summer 1968 issue—now, for a limited time only, not misleading.

The Paris Review hasn’t been headquartered in Paris since 1973—a cause of immeasurable confusion over the years. But this week, for once, our name makes sense: our editor, Lorin Stein, is in the City of Light. Though he’s not, to my knowledge, reviewing anything there, he’s speaking at two free events, and we invite our Parisian readers to attend.

On Tuesday, March 15, Lorin joins Russell Williams and Nelly Kaprièlian at the American University of Paris for a panel called Translating Houellebecq.” They’ll discuss the global reception, significance, and challenges of Michel Houellebecq’s Submission, which Lorin translated into English last year. The talk will be held in Room C-104, located in the AUP Combes building, at six P.M.; those looking to attend should write rwilliams@aup.edu to register.

On Thursday, March 17, Lorin and David Szalay appear in conversation at Shakespeare and Company. Szalay is the winner of this year’s Plimpton Prize, awarded for his novellas Youth, from issue 213, and Lascia Amor e siegui Marte, from issue 215. Their talk begins at seven.

We urge our French readership to join Lorin before he returns to New York and The Paris Review resumes its life as a misnomer.

Arrangement

March 14, 2016 | by

From a late nineteenth-century French advertisement.


The French are known for how they wear scarves. That’s such a cliché that it hardly merits repeating. But like so many clichés, it’s rooted in truth. And today I was reminded of that.

I was at a clothing store in Paris. While I sat on a low bench and waited for a friend to emerge from the dressing room, I watched women of all ages try on scarves and wraps in front of a nearby mirror. Each woman tried on her scarf differently; some draped, some wrapped, some poufed the lengths of fabric into tall, proud collars. Several tried more than one effect, seeing how the cloth behaved. But one thing they all had in common.Read More »

Letter from Our Paris Editor

December 28, 2015 | by

We’re away until January 4, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2015. Please enjoy, and have a happy New Year!

Over the half century since The Paris Review moved its headquarters to New York, we have often relied on a Paris editor to bring us the literary news from France. These Paris editors have included, at different times, Robert Silvers, Nelson Aldrich, Maxine Groffsky, and Susannah Hunnewell. Our new Paris editor, Antonin Baudry, served the French government as cultural counselor in New York and Madrid, as president of the Institut Français, and as an aide and speechwriter to foreign minister Dominique de Villepin during the Iraq crisis, an experience on which he based a best-selling graphic novel and hit movie (released here as Weapons of Mass Diplomacy and The French Minister, respectively). We heard from Antonin earlier this week. —L. S.

Dear Lorin,

I’m writing you from the Café de Tournon, where the founders of The Paris Review spent so much time back in the fifties. It happens to be my local, too. Today I ordered a café crème instead of my usual espresso. I’m celebrating your decision to make me the Paris editor of The Paris Review. I admit it sounds bizarre to me, though it’s hard to say what exactly counts as bizarre these days, around here. In any case, I will strive to do my duty by our readers … whatever that may turn out to be. Read More >>