The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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August 3, 2010

Paris in July: Paris Was a Woman

I borrowed this film (made in 2000 by writer and director Greta Schiller) from the library at the last minute for Paris in July, and then I didn't have a chance to watch it. I almost returned it to the library today without opening the box. I'm so glad I didn't!

{27 Rue de Fleurus}

It's essentially a documentary about the community of women artists and writers that developed on the Left Bank in Paris in the early 19th century {updated:  Of course, I meant 1900s.}. It focuses on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, booksellets and publishers Adrienne Monnier and Sylvia Beach, and Janet Flanner (The New Yorker's Genet) -- all of whom I studied in college, read more about on my own, and walked around Paris in search of.  I also learned a little more about other figures, including Natalie Barney and Djuna Barnes.

{Sylvia Beach and James Joyce in front of Shakespeare and Company}

{Me in front of Shakespeare and Company}

The wonderful thing about this film is that it is full of archival photos and films, audio recordings, and snippets of interviews with or about these women. Imagine spending an hour watching home movies of Gertrude and Alice, watching interviews with and talks by Sylvia Beach and Janet Flanner, and hearing their voices.

The recent publication of a new book of Sylvia Beach's letters has made me want to read about her again. This film was a wonderful find, and I'm already looking forward to borrowing and watching it a second time.


Nicola said...

Hi, have you read Djuna Barnes? I believe Nightwood has been re-issued and I'm quite keen to read it. Lovely Paris pics!

Audrey said...

Hi, Nicola...
No, I haven't. I had heard her name but didn't know very much about her till I saw this film. Nightwood is discussed, though!

Tamara said...

I'm going to put this on my TBW list - sounds great. I love the idea of learning more about these women and their craft. Of course, I'd also enjoy looking at the footage of Paris. Thanks for the review.

Thank you for visiting!

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