'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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June 14, 2011

One of them might have been me...



{no. 12, rue de l'Odeon, March 1999}
Every day, heading down rue de l'Odeon toward Cafe Danton on the corner of boulevard Saint-Germain or toward the market on rue Buci, I pass them.
      The walkers. ...
      Sometimes they appear in groups. We see a lot of these because our street, rue de l'Odeon, is to literature what Yankee Stadium is to baseball and Lord's is to cricket. At no. 12, Sylvia Beach ran Shakespeare and Company, the English-language bookshop that published James Joyce's Ulysses. Sylvia and her companion, Adrienne Monnier, lived in our building at no. 18. Joyce visited them there often. So did Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and of course Ernest Hemingway.
      Most days, when I step out of the building, a group stands on the opposite sidewalk while someone lectures them in any of a dozen languages about the history of our street. They regard me with curiosity, even respect. But often I feel like a fraud. Instead of thinking lofty literary thoughts, I'm compiling my shopping list. Eggs, onions, a baguette ...
from The Most Beautiful Walk in the World:  a pedestrian in Paris,
by John Baxter
  

I would have saved both of these books (this one and this one) for Paris in July if I could, but both of them arrived for me at the library sooner than I expected, with a long (unrenewable) line of readers after me. I'll wait to tell you more about them till then; one is excellent, the other (so far) is very good, in parts.



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1 comment:

Vintage Reading said...

Oh to walk the same streets as Scott and Zelda. Fabulous!

Thank you for visiting!

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