Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Re-Discovering Paris


Last weekend I re-read Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" for perhaps the fourth time, always with several years intervals between each foray. The last reading was in September 1985, when a dear friend gave me the copy of the book he was reading. A few months prior to his gift, I had decided to live in France. It was timely.

Shakespeare & Co., the famous English language bookstore, where my friend Bob Butler did a reading of one of his books earlier this month.
The first time I read "A Moveable Feast" I was 17. Certainly I must have enjoyed it then, but I don't recall it made me dream about Paris as the most wonderful city in the world; that came a few years later. This reading -- taken as a romanticized travel guide -- made me love Paris even more. I didn't think that was possible.

Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald
Gertrude Stein with John "Mr. Bumby" Hemingway.
James Joyce
Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare & Co.
Sylvia Beach and Hemingway
I thought for those of you who feel the same way about "our" city, you might like to pick it up again. It's a quick, fulfilling, dream-crafting adventure. I don't care if it has flaws. I don't care if it was cobbled together and was not originally all of a piece, I don't care about any of that. I'm not a literary critic. I'm a reader -- and a dreamer.


It took me back into Paris by another route, and it was magical. Imagine walking les rues de Paris with Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald -- and then, stopping to pick up a book at Shakespeare & Co., having a café creme at Les Closerie des Lilas, a glass of wine at Les Deux Magots. . . Imagine.

That's what I did over the weekend.

21 comments:

Rebecca said...

Having run out of Peter Mayle books to read, I discovered The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian by Phil Doran. I finished it last night. I enjoyed it - Doran is quite witty and descriptive.

I believe I'll go discover my "inner Paris" now! (I'm embarrassed to say I've never read A Moveable Feast. I'll remedy that in the next few days.)

Tree said...

Delightful!

And, just saw the new Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris" which features cameos by some of the icons you posted photos of. It is also delightful.

LuxeBytes said...

Yes, I too saw "Midnight in Paris" a couple of weeks ago and have meant to pull Hemingway off the bookshelf for another go-around. That movie, Tish, if you haven't seen it already, is a wonderful billet-doux to Paris. I loved it.

xoxoxox --
Marsi

La Dolfina said...

Loved Midnight in Paris, it made me want to re-read all those Hemingway and Fitzgerald books again!!!
Lucky you :)

sharon said...

I just finished reading The Paris Wife (Paula McClain), and recommend it enthusiatically. Tho' fiction, it follows the well documented record of Hadley Richardson's impossible marriage to Hemingway. The city of Paris - Libertine, Jazz Era Paris - is as much a character in the book as the people whose photos you've shared today. A treat to see their faces.

ParisGrrl said...

I need to check out that book. On an unrelated topic, I got a Monoprix vente privée coupon in the mail, and came home today with a darling crocheted (and completely UN-Pawed-to_death-From-Les-Soldes) beret for under 8 euros. Score!

California Girl said...

Another book on this era is "Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation". Very well researched. It was published about 10 years ago.

Deborah Lawrenson said...

This little book is a real touch of Hemingway magic - and I echo Sharon's recommendation above of Paula Mclain's A Paris Wife. For anyone who loves A Moveable Feast!

Everyday Goddess said...

I concur, a reader and a dreamer be!

une femme said...

Oh, how wonderful! I'm chagrined to admit I've never read this, but now I will.

You must see "Midnight in Paris," will dovetail nicely with your recent re-reading of this book.

sharon said...

Thank you for the suggestion California Girl. I'll try to squeeze it in before next book club when we discuss 'The Paris Wife.'
And I'll look forward to seeing 'Midnight in Paris' too.

Anonymous said...

I never did read this book as a youth. Then I bought it a few years ago and put it on my shelf and for some reason didn't get around to it. Now, it is on my summer reading list and I thought it would be a perfect way to supplement going to see Woody Allen's new movie, Midnight in Paris. So, your post is very timely!

Lorrie said...

I read A Moveable Feast several years ago - I think it might be time for a reread. It's wonderful to read how you are aware of your appreciation of Paris. I've visited three times and love it more each time.

Villette said...

Here are two more Paris books you might like. The first one is by Charles Glass called 'Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44.' Okay, it is not dreamy like the Hemingway book but it is so atmospheric -- about the nature of occupied Paris in the war, with great photographs. The other is a little paperback by Leonard Pitt called 'Walks Through Lost Paris.' The author has dug back to the photographs taken before the 19th c boulevards destroyed so much of medieval Paris. Then he finds the same site today and shows a photograph to compare. Much destroyed, but much remains....

BigLittleWolf said...

What a lovely piece, Tish. You make me want to dash out or rummage through my stacks and pluck a few classics from their midst - not only Hemingway or Joyce, but Thomas Wolfe and oh! Henry Miller...

The image of Shakespeare & Co makes me smile, and I'm thrilled it's still there. I savor a memory of reading poetry there once - my back to the open window and the Seine below, a tiny gathering jammed into the upper front room on a hot night, chairs and legs flush up against each other, and such a sweet, intense sense of history.

Paris me manque.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

"I don't care if it has flaws. I don't care if it was cobbled together and was not originally all of a piece, I don't care about any of that. I'm not a literary critic. I'm a reader -- and a dreamer." That's what reading is all about!! An unfortunate biproduct of the educational system is that we have been taught to disect great classics...just read, dream and enjoy! I do that when I read a post like this...just enjoy!

photography by suzanne said...

OMGosh! So excited I found your blog. My husband and I just got home from France. Then we had a short trip to Sun Valley for 4 days. We listened to "The Paris Wife" from SLC to SunValley and back, then rented one of Hemingway's movies "the Sun also Rises" to watch the evening we returned home. Then!!! Then I stumble onto your blog with all the real pictures of the people in "The Paris Wife"! So very much made my day!!! Thanks for the rush!

Kim said...

love this book which I have also read about 3 times...in fact all of these 'great writers' books of which my bookshelves are full.

Shannon said...

As a Paris fanatic, living in the oh-so-boring City of LA, I want to thank you so much for allowing me to vicariously live my dream of living in Paris through you...the ideal day for me would be waking up in Paris, having pain chocolat for breakfast, beautiful lunch at Le Deux Magots, and shopping in St Germaine Dupres....*sigh*

The Sabbatical Chef said...

How cool to find you! Just after I finished Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Quelle coincidence! I love your writing and am happy to know it wasn't just me who couldn't post a blog photo today.
Teresa

parisamour said...

What a perfect weekend. I had my first trip to Paris this past January and it was magical!

Best,
Juliana

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