18 September 2014

The bouqinistes, Paris

'Histoire de Paris
Les premiers bouquinistes

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Dès 1530, l'essor du livre contribue au rayonnement de
la capitale. A côté des grands libraires et impri-
meurs établis au Quartier latin apparaissent très tôt
des colporteurs de gazettes et libelles: ils n'ont
pas droit aux boutiques et installent leur fonds sur
des tréteaux, voire des pièces de toile posées à
même le sol, quand ils ne transportent pas leur
marchandise dans un panier d'osier suspendu à
leur cou. une sentence du bailli du Palais de jus-
tice, datée de 1578, en autorise 12, contraints
de se fixer deux par deux sur 6 emplacements
autorisés, aux alentours du pont
Saint-Michel de Notre-Dame.
Les autres subsistent dans
l'illégalité, jusqu'en 1618, où
ils sont tenus de porter
sur leur pourpoint une
"marque ou écusson
de cuivre".'

The bouquinistes on the left and right banks of the Seine, with their distinctive uniform dark green stands padlocked (an unfortunate word these days) to the quayside walls, are an integral part of the atmosphere of this intensely literary city. The bouquinistes somehow survive in spite of Fnac, Gibert Jeune, the many secondhand bookstores, and most of all the mighty internet.

So it's interesting to read above of the intellectual development of Paris with its bookstores and printers way back in the 16th century, and the peddlers of books at first illegally selling their wares from trestles, willow baskets hung round their necks, and even from cloth spread out on the ground.

But I wonder if the writer, along with (m)any tourists passing by the bouquinistes, have seen the present-day 'peddlers' still unofficially selling their secondhand goods on bedsheets in poorer areas of Paris.

17 September 2014

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, 5th arrondissement, Paris


The very impressive statue of the writer and botanist (Jacques-Henri) Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814) in the Jardin des Plantes, where for a short time he was intendant.

At the base of the statue is a brief summary of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's literary creations, not all of the dates of publication of which are necessarily correct:

'VOYAGE [À] L’ÎLE DE FRANCE 1773
ÉTUDE DE LA NATURE 1784–1788
PAUL ET VIRGINIE 1788
CHAUMIÈRE INDIENNE 1791
HARMONIES DE LA NATURE 1795'

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's most famous work is of course the novel Paul et Virginie, of which this representation of the two protagonists are also at the base of the statue.

15 September 2014

Boris Vian in Ville d'Avray, Hauts-de-Seine (92)

33 rue Pradier, Ville d'Avray.

'ICI VÉCUT
BORIS VIAN
ÉCRIVAIN POÈTE ET MUSICIEN
VILLE D'AVRAY 1920
PARIS 1959'

At the other side of the entrance is another plaque:

'ICI VÉCUT avec sa FAMILLE
de 1930 à 1955
YEHUDI MENUHIN
CITOYEN d'HONNEUR
de VILLE d'AVRAY'

And next door is yet another plaque:

'ICI VÉCUT DE 1922  À 1977
JEAN ROSTAND
BIOLOGISTE ET HUMANISTE'

In the small cimetière de Ville d’Avray there is no indication on Vian's grave that he does in fact lie here in the town of his birth, but then this is perhaps appropriate for a man with a huge number of pseudonyms.

Far removed from the many strollers around much larger cemetries within the Périphérique such as Père-Lachaise, Montparnasse and Montmartre, this is in a more distant quiet town, and is a little haven that nevertheless receives occasional visits from Vian's followers:


Cimetière de Passy #7: Renée Vivien


'ICI REPOSE
LA GRANDE POÉTESSE
RENÉE VIVIEN
PAULINE MARY TARN
Décédée
LE 18 NOVEMBRE
1909

ÉPITAPHE

Voici la porte d'où je sors...
Ô mes roses et mes épines!
Qu'importe l'autrefois? Je dors
En songeant des choses divines...
Voici donc mon âme ravie,
Car elle s'apaise et s'endort
Avant pour l'amour de la Mort,
Pardonné ce crime: la Vie!

Renée Vivien'

Renée Vivien (1877–1909), née Pauline Mary Tarn in London, was the daughter of an American woman and a wealthy British man who died in 1886, leaving her far from need. Vivien travelled a great deal and had a stormy relationship with Natalie Barney, who is also buried in Passy, and whom I mentioned here.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

14 September 2014

Cimetière de Passy #6: Gérard de Villiers

'Gérard de VILLIERS
1929–2013
SAS'

This is of course a recent addition to the cemetery, and again I'm grateful to the anonymous and very helpful man who pointed this out to us. The 'SAS' above refers to an imprint devoted to spy books, and Wikipedia tells me that Gérard de Villiers is considered by many as a 'roman de gare' (more or less a 'beach read') author.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Cimetière de Passy #5: Haroun Tazieff

'Haroun TAZIEFF
(11 mai 1914 – 2 février 1998)

Mondialement connu pour ses travaux
sur les volcans en activité.
Pendant près de 40 ans, il est appelé en consultation
dans les pays où une catastrophe survient.
Il dirige ses recherches sur le terrain
suscitant de nombreuses vocations
et le renouveau des sciences de la terre.'

Vulcanologist Haroun Tazieff may be known throughout the world for his work, although I doubt that many people have heard of him in the UK, but then there aren't too many volcanoes there.

I wouldn't even have noticed this grave if a very helpful local hadn't pointed it out to us, adding that the artwork in Mayan style is actually made from lava.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Cimetière de Passy #4: Henri Bernstein

'HENRI BERNSTEIN
JUIN 1876 – NOVEMBRE 1953'

Henri Bernstein was a playwright who found popularity with Le Voleur (1906). He later achieved notoriety with Après moi (1911), a play involving a Jewish deserter, and Bernstein had 'deserted' during his military service.

From 1926 to 1939 Bernstein directed the Théâtre du Gymnase and was noted for such plays La Rafale (1905), La Galerie des Glaces (1924), Mélo (1929), Le Bonheur (1933) and Elvire (1939), the last of which featured concentration camps.

Bernstein was in exile in the United States duriung World War II, where Portrait d'un défaitiste – a representation of Petain – met with considerable interest.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Cimetière de Passy #3: André Siegfried

'ANDRÉ SIEGFRIED
DE L'ACADÉMIE
FRANÇAISE
1875–1959'

André Siegfried was a French sociologist, historian, geographer and proto-psephologist. His publications are diverse and numerous.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

13 September 2014

Cimetière de Passy #2: Francis de Croisset


Francis de Croisset (1877 – not 1876 as on the tomb – to 1937) was born Franz Weiner in Belgium and moved to Paris in 1897, choosing the name 'Croisset' because of its associations with Flaubert. He sought scandal through his plays, was frequently in the newspapers, and was the inspiration behind Proust's Bloch and Jacques du Roszier. On marrying he moved to Grasse, although he spent his final years in Paris.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Cimetière de Passy #1: Gordon Bennett

James Gordon Bennett junior (1841–1918) published the New York Herald, which was founded by his father. His sometimes wholly unacceptable behavior probably led to the phrase 'Gordon Bennett' (now outdated) being used as an expression of disbelief. Bennett spent much of his time in London and Paris.

Oddly, the small chapel in the cimetière de Passy doesn't bear his name, and the only thing of note (apart from the owl above the doorway) is the window with this representation of a ship:

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Roger Martin du Gard in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines

Roger Martin du Gard (1881–1958), who won the Nobel Prize for Litterature in 1937, lived in Maisons-Laffitte from 1890 to 1895. He based the house above, in the place Wagram, on the patriarch Oliver Thibault's summer house in Les Thibault.

Arthur Koestler in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines

2 place de Wagram, Maisons-Laffitte.

'Arthur
KOESTLER
1905–1983
Écrivain engagé
a sejourné en 1934
dans cette maison.'

'La Villa Voltaire', as it was then called, was built in 1838 by Saint Georges Catherine Molesworth. In the 1930s it became a children's garden nicknamed 'La Pouponnière' ('The Crèche' | 'The Nursery'), which Koestler organised for two months. He welcomed children whose parents were Jews or communists pursued by the Nazis. Koestler also wrote his first novel here, although it was never published.

12 September 2014

André Foulon de Vaulx, 7th arrondissement, Paris

95 rue de Lille, 7th arrondissement.

'LE POÈTE
ANDRÉ FOULON de VAULX
NÉ À NOYON (OISE) LE 15 MAI 1873
A VÉCU DANS CETTE MAISON
OÙ IL EST MORT
LE 18 DÉCEMBRE 1951'

Foulon de Vaulx was also a friend of the novelist and poet Jeanne Sandelion (1899–1976), with whom he maintained a correspondance between 1938 and 1948.

Alphonse Allais, 8th arrondissement, Paris

'Si en 1900
Alphonse Allais
a, par erreur, habité en face : 24 rue Royale
c'est ici que son esprit demeure.'

'If in 1900
Alphonse Allais
by mistake, lived opposite – 24 rue Royal  
it is here that his spirit lies.'

In a tourist-infested area of Paris – between the Place de la Concorde and the Place de la Madeleine – there is a healing hint of the wonderful craziness of Alphonse Allais from this plaque erected by the Académie Alphonse Allais. Unfortunately the plaque is largely hidden behind a palm and I think I've done quite well to get this shot of it. And yes, it's on 25 rue Royale, the beginning of 'Le Village Royal', immediately opposite 24, where he of course actually lived.

A longer post I made on Allais is here.

11 September 2014

Georges Brassens, 14th arrondissement, Paris

L'impasse Floriment, Plaisance.

'GEORGES BRASSENS
HABITA CETTE IMPASSE
DE 1944 À 1966.
IL Y ÉCRIVIT
SES PREMIÈRES CHANSONS'

'DANS CETTE IMPASSE
EST NÉ
PIERRE NICOLAS
1921–1990
MUSICIEN ET CONTREBASSISTE
DE GEORGES BRASSENS'

In March 1943 Georges Brassens was working in Basdorf, Germany, under the Nazi compulsory work programme. A year later he was given a fortnight's leave, but never returned. Jeanne Planche and her husband sheltered him from the Gestapo at 9 impasse Floriment under primitive conditions, complete with hens, cats and dogs. Brassens was to remain there for twenty-two years.

'GEORGES BRASSENS 
Poète, musicien et chanteur 
vécut dans cette maison 
de 1944 à 1966.

"ET QUE J’EMPORTE ENTRE LES DENTS 
UN FLOCON DES NEIGES D’ANTAN…"

The plaque above was the brainchild of 'Les Amis de Georges' and erected in 1994. The cats below, created in memory of the many cats Jeanne befriended, are in terra cotta and were made by the potter Michel Mathieu:



Léon Dierx, 17th arrondissement, Paris

'LÉON DIERX

POÈTE FRANÇAIS
NÉ À SAINT-DENIS
DE LA RÉUNION
LE 31 MARS 1858
MORT À PARIS
LE 12 JUIN 1912'

This monument by Léopold de Bony de Lavergne is in the Square des Batignolles. Dierx was a Parnassian poet and also a painter and is buried in Batignolles cemetery, the grave of which I made a post here.

Tristan Bernard in the 17th arrondissement, Paris

'TRISTAN BERNARD
1866–1947'

This bust of Tristan Bernard stands in Place Tristan Bernard about half a mile to the west of Ternes métro station. Bernard was a playwright and novelist noted for his aphorisms, hence the expressions round the base of his monument here. He is said to have invented the French board game le jeu des petits chevaux, or Dadas.

'JE NE HAIS
QUE LA HAINE'

'I ONLY
HATE HATRED'

'POUR ÊTRE HEUREUX
AVEC LES ÊTRES
IL NE FAUT PAS
DEMANDER QUE CE
QU'ILS PEUVENT DONNER'

'TO BE HAPPY
WITH OTHERS
YOU MUSTN'T ONLY
ASK THEM WHAT
THEY HAVE TO GIVE'

'NE COMPTER QUE
SURE SOI-MÊME
ET ENCORE
PAS BEAUCOUP'

'ONLY COUNT
ON YOURSELF,
AND NOT TOO
MUCH AT THAT'


Tristan Bernard was buried in the cimetière de Passy in the 16th arrondissement.