Monday, 21 July 2014

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday 1933-34

Paris in July - We have arrived at 1933-34 with Janet Flannery.

1933

"The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas


A Paris-written book of extreme interest to both sides of the Atlantic, and, indeed, to one side of the Pacific, since both the ladies hail from California, will shortly be published in New York under the sly inscription The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. As some young foreign painters like Picasso, Juan Gris, and Matisse, and later some struggling expatriate writers, like Joyce and Hemingway, discovered years ago, Miss Alice B. Toklas is the friend who lives on the Rue de Fleurus with Gertrude Stein. And certainly any autobiography of the one must necessarily be a biography of, it not even by, the other, plus a complete memoir of that exciting period when Cubism was being invented in paint and a new manner of writing being patented in words, an epoch when not everyone had too much to eat but everyone had lots to say, when everything we now breathe was already in the air and only a few had the nose for news to smell it - and with most of the odours of discovery right under the nose for news to smell it - and with most of the odours of discovery right under the Toklas-Stein roof.
Considerable mystery and some secrecy still surround the book here - but not much, really. Among the few privileged to see it in MS., it has already provoked quarrels as to its merit, the quarrels being about which of its hundred of merits is the most meritorious: the Picasso part, or the analyses of Hemingway, the long, marvellous description of the cranky old picture merchant Vollard, the piece about William James in Harvard, or about Johns Hopkins..."

Being into the Paris years of the 1920, this should be an interesting read.


"Marlene Dietrich


Marlene Dietrich's Paris visit, which began with the Prefect of Police asking her to leave town in
trousers, is ending with her being asked everywhere in skirts. She is the sweet pepper that brings crowds to the modest Hungarian restaurant on the Rue de Surène where she customarily dines; she is the bitters at fashionable cokctail parties only when she fails to appear. She was the belle of the Baron de Rothschild's ball - or would have been had she consented to dance with any husband but her own. At Cécile Sorel's farewell to the Comédie-Francaise, when the Comte de Ségur made his debut as an actor, she was more observed as her old self in a box than he was on the stage as a new Hannibal. ...
... Fräulein Dietrich is the first foreign female personality Paris society has fallen in love with in years. She is also apparently the first male impersonator to be under a government cloud since Christina of Sweden, or about three centuries ago. "

1934

"Sanctuaire

The first of William Faulkner's works to be translated into French has just made its appearance here in the selection of Sanctuary, and among the critics the sound and the fury of praise have only been less loud than the confusion. No English-language work since and except James Joyce's Ulysses has ever cause such an uproarious volume of comment in literary France. 'Sanctuaire,' remarks Malraux, recent Goncourt prize man in the the preface, äis the intrusion of Greek tragedy into the detective story.' 'Sanctuaire,' comments the columnist Maxence in Gringoire, 'will aid in the formin gin the Latin mind of a new picture of America. Veritably, between the Faulkner heroes and we French there is some kind of fraternity which up to now we have never found in American novels.'..."

I actually have this book on my TBR shelves, so it seems like a good time to take it out and read it!

"Mme. Marie Curie (1867-1934)

The death of Mme. Curie here was an international death. A native of Poland, a worker in France, with radium donated by America, she was a terrifying example of strict scientific fidelity to each of those lands, to all civilised lands. During the early years of her marriage, 'I did the housework,' she said, 'for we had to pay for our scientific research out of our own pockets. We worked in an abandoned shed. It was only a wooden shack with a skylight roof which didn't always keep the rain out.' In winter, the poor Curies worked in their overcoats to keep warm; they were then, as always, very much in love with each other and with chemistry.

... Still it was Mme. Curie intrigued and alone, who devised a method of measuring this radioactivity, as she named it; her proving that it contained essential atomic properties instituted a new method of chemical research. altered the conceptions of the nineteenth century, and for the twentieth gave the base for all modern theories concerning matter and energy. Eventually her husband deserted crystals to work with her on the discovery of polonium (which they named after her native land: Madame, née Sklodowska, was always a patriotic Pole); then she or he or they discovered radium. Madame thereupon determined the atomic weight of radium and obtained radium in metallic form. For this she was crowned with the Nobel Chemistry Prize. She was the only woman ever permitted to hold the post of university professor in France.

... Later in life, her husband said, 'No matter what it does to one, even if it makes of one a body without a soul, one must go on with one's work.'
Mme- Curie had long since beeen in that zealous condition before she finally died."

"Goldwyn's Nana

An important international legal decision is about to be handed down here, since the Zola children, all middle-aged, have gone to court against Samuel Goldwyn for what he and Anna Sten did to their dear father's novel Nana. As a film, Nana aroused almost more literary discussion here for being what the book wasn't than the book once aroused for being what it was. The French Authors' League even said the picture 'seemed part of a plan to weaken France's prestige, literary and moral,' which was the first anyone knew that Nana had anything to do with either. After all, the literary style of Zola is still considered gross, and Nana's publisher had to hurry to England to escape not prestige but prison. While Hollywood is thanked for having flatteringly atmosphered the film in the manner of Manet (owing to its ignorance of the fact that the inartistic Zola thought Greuze the greatest French painter), to real Parisians the movie Parisians suggested that they hailed not from the capital of France 'but from some baroque land, maybe a kind of Patagonia.' The critics also complained that the story had not been followed closely enough, especially, thank heaven, in the vulgarer details. Madame Leblond-Zola complained to her lawyer that the story hadn't been followed at all and thanked heaven for nothing, not even for the fat sum Goldwyn had paid her. Unfortunately for her, she has just made public her contract with him, which states that 'the buyer will have the right, in employing the book, to make any changes, additions, or modifications he thinks proper, and to eliminate any part he sees fit, without harming the general plan of the book.' Or as Comoedia sharply inquires, 'What are the Zolas complaining about?' With such a contract, Nana could have been filmed as a Second Republic gold-diggers' musical comedy with cancan chorines.
From the Yussupoff and the Zola cases, Hollywood has learned with surprise that history is not necessarily dead, especially if there are any living relatives. "

Also a book to be read. I remember seeing a French TV-series on Nana when I was young. Time to read it now I think.

"Charles Boyer


Charles Boyer has gone to Hollywood to become, with luck, the latest imported American movie star. Boyer is The Young Man of Paris; an actor so talented that he evades the grand old tradition only by being naturalistic; has been coupled with both Henri Bernstein and the Guitrys, or normally the best that French stage writing and playing offer; is the only French male movie star whose box office here has registered his sex appeal; and has what the French admiringly call le regard de Vénus, which we call a little cross-eyed."




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