Friday, August 5, 2011

Paris and Books

There was one day in Paris when Susan and I took the longest walk, starting where we were staying, on Rue Cler, crossing the Seine on Pont l'Alma, angling up Rue Montaigne and intersecting Champs Elysees, strolling the Tuileries all the way to the Louvre, crossing back on Pont Royal basically threading the needle between the far reaches of the Louvre on the Right Bank and the Musee d'Orsay on the left, proceeding up Rue du Bac (a favorite street during our stay), then bending into the Jardin du Luxembourg, across to the Pantheon, down to Shakespeare and Co. on the river across from Notre Dame. We crossed onto Ile St Louis, and dipped into Le Marais for ice cream which we ate on the bridge, Pont Louis Philippe. From there we contemplated finding Hemingway and Hadley's place on Rue Cardinal Lemoine, which we could see from the bridge receding into the Latin Quarter. A Moveable Feast traced the route. In that book Hemingway, conscious of the fact that he was remembering first hand from the 1950's his days in Paris during the Lost Generation years, that famous literary heyday from back when writers earnestly engaged themselves in writing what we called then "books" (see wikipedia for a definition and an illustration) -- conscious as he was of how one day we would romanticize the literary Paris of the '20's because the romance of writing and books would nosedive, he took special care to write not only the ethereal spirit of Paris but the physical place itself, the beauty and vitality of the streets, of the people, of the language. I have to say, the beauty and vitality have survived.

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