by Julian Green
Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series
Julian Green was born to American parents in Paris in 1900, and spent most of his life in the French capital.
Paris is an extraordinary, lyrical love letter to the city, taking the reader on an imaginative journey around its secret stairways, courtyards, alleys and hidden places.
Whether evoking the cool of a deserted church on a hot summer's day, remembering Notre Dame in a winter storm in 1940, describing chestnut trees lit up at night like 'Japanese lanterns' or lamenting the passing of street cries and old buildings, his book is filled with unforgettable imagery.
It is a meditation on getting lost and wasting time, and on what it truly means to know a city.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 144 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 03/05/2012
- Category: Travel writing
- ISBN: 9780141194653
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Review by edwinbcn
Julian Green, in the francophone world known as Julien Green, was an American author, born in 1900, who lived most of his life in Paris. As he wrote most of his books in French, he has remained obscure to the English-speaking readership of the anglophone world, although, actually, quite a number of his works have been translated into English. Bilingual and fluent in English, Green translated some of his French works into English himself. Besides a large number of novels, short stories and plays, Julian Green is best known for his diaries, published as Journal, (Engl: Diary spanning the largest part of the Twentieth Century between the years 1919–98, in 19 volumes published in French, from 1938 to 2001.Written in French, and published in 1984, is the short work Paris. It is an hommage to the city of his birth and hometown, the capital of France. The elegance of the edition in the Penguin Modern Classics series is that it is a bilingual edition, printing the French text and the English translation on opposite pages. The translation is not made by the author, but by J.A. Underwood.Paris by Julian Green consists of 19 vignetes, describing parts of the city or buildings. It is a very personal and intimate portrait of the city. Green is not interested in places which traditionally attract many foreigners, such as Mont Martre. His descriptions often involve details which would go unnoticed to the temporary resident or traveller. Thus, Green remembers Notre Dame by the great canvas to cover the empty window where the great rose window was replaced in 1940 or the lost cries of peddlers selling chickweed for the little birds. Rather than describing landmark buildings, Green chooses less well-known corners of the cities, steps and stairways, and the Church of the Val-de-Grâce. Describing the influence of modernity on the city of Paris, Green chooses to remember the demolished old Palais du Trocadéro rather than the Eiffel Tower. A photo of the demolition in 1930, witnessed by the author is included.The bilingual Penguin edition of Paris includes 16 B/W plates, photos taken by the author of some of the apartments he lived in and iconic places of Paris, but also sculptures which caught his eye, such as 'The Shadow' by Rodin, cherubs and tritons on the monuments and fountains of Paris. The edition is complemented with explanatory notes and biographical details.