Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday - 1931-32

Paris in July - thank you for an interesting month with this theme. Many interesting blog posts showing Paris from all sides. I continue here with what was 'hot news' by Janet Flanner in 1931 and 1932.


Chanel in Hollywood

Coco Chanel
"As a further ripple in the wave of bon marché that is sweeping through Paris, it was authoritatively announced by Mlle. Chanel that she is going to Hollywood to work for Mr. Goldwyn. This is the first time a couturière of such importance, or indeed any, has left the native heath. Considering what universal style-setting means to Paris for the maintenance of its financial and artistic pulse, the departure of Chanel for California must be more important than that of Van Dyck for the English Court of Charles I. But in a hundred years, the results will probably photograph less well."

Georges Simenon

"The Nouvelle Revue Francaise, which ordinarily expends its strength publishing rhymes by Paul Valéry, essays by André Gide, and similar intellectual fare, has taken an option on crime. The popular detective story, originally nurtured here by Gaboriau, Gaston Leroux, and Maurice Leblanc, has suddenly developed a new local vogue and a new writer: M. Georges Sim, who at the age of twenty-eight has already written two hundred and eighty yarns. He is of Breton Dutch stock, is handsome, can write an excellent book in four days (one was started in a glass cage, for publicity's sake), lives on a yacht in canals, and has used sixteen pseudonyms, of which Simenon (the signature of the latest dozen of his books) will probably become permanent. ...

Georges Simenon
Simenon's detective is stout and named Maigret; the crimes he solves are published monthly, are talk of the town, and sell for six francs. The stories are distinguished by a talent for suspense, begin better than they end, and contain in each case a crime curiously suitable to the geographic setting: Antwerp for Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien, and the Brittany town and inhabitants of Concarneau for Le Chien Jaune, so realistically undisguised that Simenon will probably be sued. And after his Crime en Hollande, it is unlikely that he can ever steam back to the Netherlands again.

However, according to his admirers, he never goes any place twice anyway. He always travels (always on his boat, and always on canals), hates heat and wants to go to Tahiti, and spends half a million francs of his royalties a year doing what this year's characters do: hiring a liveried chauffeur because his villain does, losing two hundred thousand francs at Monte Carlo because his hero must. For he says, 'I have no imagination; I take everything from life' (and from the exploits of certain of his acquaintances, who apparently include some of the liveliest crooks in France). 'I get up at half-past five; go on deck, start typing at six, with either a bottle of brandy or white wine at my side; and write a chapter an hour until noon, when I go on land and lie down in the grass, exhausted. My ambition is to arrive little by little in the class of a Jack London, or - who knows? - even of a Conrad.' Monsieur Simenon is mistaken; he is already in a class by himself."

Well, indeed something to think about when we next time read one of his books!


Ravel (Music by)

"For years it has been known that, out in the fastness of his country cottage in Montfort-l'Amaury, Ravel was writing a pair of piano concertos. One, being only for the left hand, was definitely associated with the one-armed Austrian pianist, Wittgenstein. The other, Ravel said as late as three years ago, was 'completely terminated - all except the themes' and would be associated with Mlle. Marguerite Long, an obedient and powerful French pianist popular in ministerial circles; a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor; and the like. The themes, Mlle. Long, and Ravel, as conductor, were all finally brought together for the first time at the recent Ravel gala at the Pleyel. Every seat in the house was taken, a tribute the French rarely pay except to German sopranos, and the concerto was wroth waiting all these years to hear. Professedly written, as its author states, in the brilliant manner proper to a divertimento, its allegro, adagio, and presto presented rhythmic, melodious modern music as personally pure as it will be publicly popular. Its timely appearance as a Durand-published, silver-backed score was the signal for more noisy page-turning than was necessary at a concert already fashionably fussy.

Maurice Ravel
Since so much has lately been said, principally by Ravel, as to the correct tempo for his too famous 'Boléro,' considerable interest attended his directing of that piece as a final act of a long evening. May we state that those who thought a bolero was a short, bright jacket worn for fancy dress had better make other plans? According to Ravel, a bolero is apparently a long, black crepe cape with a train the length of a hall carpet, worn exclusively when walking to funerals. "

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