18 November 2011

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Alphonse Lemerre, and the passage de Choiseuil, 2nd arrondissement, Paris, France: Literary Île-de-France #25

The passage de Choiseul is a covered passage between rue Saint-Augustin to the north and rue des Petits-Champs to the south. It was built between 1825 and 1827 first by François Mazois (who died before completion), and then by Antoine Tavernier. It is on the site of four adjoining hotels bought, in a speculative move, by Mallet bank in which the hotels were demolished, with the exception of parts of the Hôtel de Gesvres, whose entrance is now the north entrance of the passage.

At 190 meters in length, this is one of the longest passages in Paris.

Passage Choiseul has a literary history. Alphonse Lemerre was the first publisher of the Parnassian poets and his shop was at number 23. Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894—1961) lived here as a child from 1899 to 1907, when his mother had a novelty shop initially at number 67 and then from 1904 at number 64. In Mort à crédit he introduces a representation of it as 'Passage des Bérésinas'.

The south entrance is rather less impressive.

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