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The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Parisby Edmund White
A New York Times Notable Book for 2001
Synopses & Reviews
Bloomsbury is proud to announce the first title in an occasional series in which some of the world's finest novelists reveal the secrets of the city they know best. These beautifully produced, pocket-sized books will provide exactly what is missing in ordinary travel guides: insights and imagination that lead the reader into those parts of a city no other guide can reach.
A flaneur is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through a city without apparent purpose but is secretly attuned to the history of the place and in covert search of adventure, esthetic or erotic. Edmund White, who lived in Paris for sixteen years, wanders through the streets and avenues and along the quays, taking us into parts of Paris virtually unknown to visitors and indeed to many Parisians. Entering the Marais evokes the history of Jews in France, just as a visit to the Haynes Grill recalls the presence-festive, troubled-of black Americans in Paris for a century and a half. Gays, Decadents, even Royalists past and present are all subjected to the flaneur's scrutiny.
Edmund White's The Flaneur is opinionated, personal, subjective. As he conducts us through the bookshops and boutiques, past the monuments and palaces, filling us in on the gossip and background of each site, he allows us to see through the blank walls and past the proud edifices and to glimpse the inner, human drama. Along the way he recounts everything from the latest debates among French law-makers to the juicy details of Colette's life in the Palais Royal, even summoning up the hothouse atmosphere of Gustave Moreau's atelier.
"White's collection of impressions stands in marked contrast to many travel books published today. The organizing principle is the combined force of White's perception, imagination, frame of reference and voice....White's charming book is for literati, voyeurs and aesthetes, and for travelers who love familiar terrain from a different viewpoint." Publishers Weekly
"[A] marvelous little book....If White's personal, loving, and saucy [book]...is an indication of things to come, the series will prove to be prime reading for travel lovers....He certainly sees the soul beneath the skin as he explores such topics as writers, royalty, and sex and what part each plays in the Parisian experience." Brad Hooper, Booklist
"One has the impression, reading The Flâneur, of having fallen into the hands of a highly distractible, somewhat eccentric poet and professor who is determined to show you a Paris you wouldn't otherwise see....Edmund White tells such a good story that I'm ready to listen to anything he wants to talk about." Angeline Goreau, New York Times Book Review
"[A]n intensely personal portrait of one of the world's great metropolises....[White's book] should by no means be confined to the gay-lit shelves, for it provides sophisticated reflections on a city dear to so many travelers....Even the most sophisticated readers will learn much from these erudite perambulations." Kirkus Reviews
"A gifted writer who notices the little details missed by other guidebooks...and his evocative writing should appeal to both armchair travelers and visitors to Paris." Library Journal
About the Author
Edmund White is the author of many books including A Boy's Own Story and most recently The Married Man. He has been made an officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters and last year received a literary prize from the Festival of Deauville. Ten of his books have been translated into French, including his magisterial biography of Jean Genet.
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