Saturday, July 28, 2012

Paris Was A Woman

I finished the final chapters of Paris Was A Woman by Andrea Weiss. Here are the stories of the female friends and lovers, writers and artists, booksellers and editors, poets, photographers and philanthropists of Paris in the 1920s and '30s.

So much has been written about the men of expatriate Paris, it was a pleasure to read what the women were doing: Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Sylvia Beach, Colette, and Djuna Barnes. Many others' stories are told as well. I got some of the women confused as they all seemed to know each other and shared their lives, if not their beds, at one time or another.

The photos and excerpts from letters are worth the price of the book. The prose is a bit slow going, like I said I got the players confused sometimes, but learning of the contributions the women made to the art of the time is fascinating.

Of course it all came to an end with the occupation of Paris by the Germans in 1940. Some of the women did stay or at least moved to the French countryside, but most of them left before the Germans entered Paris.

Janet Flanner

The work I most want to get to know further is by journalist Janet Flanner who wrote under the name Genêt for The New Yorker magazine. A collection of her columns is published as Paris Was Yesterday (1929-1934) and three volumes entitled Paris Journal (1944-1955, 1956-1964,  and 1965-1970.). She writes of the arts, fashion, politics and people, the scandals and celebrities of Paris. She is known for her insight and wit.

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