Friday, 25 July 2014

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday 1936-37

Paris in July

The ever active Janet Flanner continues her articles. We have reached the years 1936-37. Only two to go!


Stein - Human Nature

"If French books have evaded the political question recently, one book written in France is going to go The Relation of Human Nature to Human Life; or the Geographical History of the United States. The new volume, Miss Stein says, will be pretty long - about two hundred pages - and will be something in the style of her little-known essay, 'Composition as Explanation,' or very clear. She explains the new book's material as follows. 'It is a discussion of the fact that huma nature isn't very interesting and that that's why politics are what they are, since they deal with human nature. The book also deals with masterpieces; what they are and why they are so few.' ..."
into it. This will be Miss Gertrude Stein's new volume, entitled

Considering how we see politicians an leaders today, and expect them to be nothing but good and have no flaws or negative aspects whatsoever, that is; a perfect person! As we all know, they do not exist. Therefore it is quite enjoying to hear about Léon Blum, incoming Premier, in 1936.

Léon Blum

"Léon Blum, France's incoming Premier, is an odd man. He is now chief of the Socialist party, and was formerly legal adviser to the Hispano-Suiza motor firm. As a brilliant youth, he took his first degree in philosophy, his second in law. He became a popular Parisian theatre and literary critic; was author of a objets d'art, with all three of which his beautiful apartment in a beautiful eighteenth-century mansion on the Quai Bourbon is always full. He has an odd gait, since he turns his toes far out; he wears spats and thick spectacles, is myopic and absent-minded. He is Deputy for the Narbonne vineyard district, and just misses being a teetotaler. His family were well-to-do Alsatians, his grandmother was an enthusiastic Communard, his brother René is art director fo the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet, other relatives run the family fine-lace shop on the Rue de 4 Septembre. Blum, who has been married twice, is a strong Judaist but not liturgically orthodox. His political god is the martyred Jaurès. His mind is subtle and dialectic; his speeches are lucid, fluid, and delivered in a flute-like tone. For years he has ranked as Parliament's master maneuverer; till now, he has even been ablt to maneuver his party out of taking responsible power - no small feat. His most important pre-Premiership speech was that he made to the American Club here. The speech's tolerance pleased Blum's Moderate European enemies and angered his French Communist friends. His reference to the harm done by France's not having paid her war debt was supposed to please Americans. The last time Blum had referred to the French debt was when Premier Herriot wanted to pay it. Blum's lack of support was what caused Herriot's parliamentary fall. That was in 1932. This is 1936.
book on Goethe, and another on Stendhal, which infuriated Beyleists; can recite Victor Hugo's verses by heart, also good kitchen recipes; loves Ravel's music; buys modern paintings; and adores cats, flowers, and fine


French Films

Jean Gabin, one of the biggest
stars in French film
French films used to be films which the French rarely went to see, American movies being their favourite. Celluloid has been changing lately. The movie that French fans are now queueing up for is the Ciné Marivaux's Un Carnet de Bla, which is not only one of the major films the French have ever made but also one of the grandest films Hollywood never made. ...

...A second surprisingly fine French films is La Grande Illusion, starring Jean Gabin (who starred in Pépe le Moko, which is a third French surprise for those who didn't see it in London, where it was last spring's foreign hit). ..."

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

"The aristocratic Mrs. Edith Wharton was born Jones in a fashionable quarter of New York, arriving appropriately during the quarrel between masters about servants known as the Civil War. The parents of the novelist were without talent, being mere people of the world. From them into her veins ran Rhinelanders, Stevenses, early Howes, and Schermerhorns intact. Her corpuscles were Holland burghers, colonial colonels, and provincial gentry who with the passage of time had become Avenue patricians - patrons of Protestant church and Catholic grand opera as the two highest forms of public worship - a strict clan making intercellular marriages, attending winter balls, dominating certain smart spots on the Eastern seaboard, and unaware of any signs of life farther west. In blood they were old, Dutch and British, the only form of being American that they knew. As a child among them, little Miss Jones started living in what Mrs. Wharton later entitled their Age of Innocence - a hard hierarchy of male money, of female modesty and morals. ...

...Though she spent another forty years writing about human relations, it was in her friendship with Henry James that she really attained her literary height. Their Platonic amity lacked none of their style, and contained all the warmth of which she never wrote. As if preparing herself for her own future expatriation, she first fell under his distant tutelage, then under the personal spell of her country's greatest prose exile. He selected her, at the expense of Mrs. Humphry Ward, as his choicest female pupil. ...

Edith Wharton's Paris home
...Mrs. Wharton's real excellencies were never marketed. Even those who loved her most came by accident upon her golden qualities. She was regarded as cold. Yet a chord of Bach once recalled to her a moment passed half a century ago with a woman who was ever after to be her fondest companion. And to the same woman she wrote, after clipping her garden's roses in the summer dawn, that the ripe sweetness of the flowers personified and brought their amity endearingly to mind. Mrs. Wharton had the tender and reserved sentiments of the truly literate. From many she earned the title of Dearest Edith, and for herself, long before her death, she had gained what she hoped would be her final epitaph - 'She was a friend of Henry James.'"

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