When good Americans die, wrote Oscar Wilde, they all go to Paris. Of course, Americans can be impatient people, and quite a few, hoping to beat the queues, don’t wait for death. Many good American writers, plus quite a few British and Irish writers, have made their way to Paris with the idea that in the City of Light they will be able to find their literary voice in a way that would not be possible in Des Moines or Darlington or Dublin. Or at least get a seat on the terrasse of Café de Flore.
A hundred years ago, Ernest Hemingway, arguably the most famous of the American literary expatriates, first climbed the stairs with his wife Hadley, past the shared toilets on each landing, to their cramped fourth floor flat in 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine. The apartment, Hemingway wrote to a friend back home in Chicago, “would not be uncomfortable to anyone used to a Michigan outhouse”. Hemingway was only 22, and hadn’t yet written anything of note. The couple were sustained by Hadley’s small trust fund and by news stories that Hemingway filed to the Toronto Star.
If you were asked to picture life as an expatriate in Paris, your mind is likely to drift to one of two images, at once similar and radically different. The first is literary squalor — the starving artist — as depicted in books such as George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. The second is the cafe society associated with figures like F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Straddling both categories is the quintessential Parisian literary expatriate, Ernest Hemingway. In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway writes of walking around Paris with an empty stomach and a head full of ideas, resembling the nameless narrator of the 1890 novel Hunger by Knut Hamsun, whom Hemingway says “taught me to write.”
Before becoming the starving flaneur, Hemingway was the Paris correspondent for the TorontoStar newspaper, a position to which he was appointed at the ripe old age of 22. Hemingway’s articles of this period — written in the Star’s lean, declarative style, which would come to characterize the American’s fiction — are highly revealing of life in Paris a century ago.
In an article titled “A Canadian with $1,000 a Year Can Live Very Comfortably and Enjoyably in Paris,” Hemingway discusses the amount of money required to live well in the City of Light.
Shakespeare and Company’s green-and-yellow facade and weather-beaten sidewalk book bins telegraphed old-world charm. Inside, thousands of books both new and used lined the shelves that stretched from floor to ceiling. More books were heaped on tables crammed into corners. I’d never seen so many books packed into a space. Tara had told us on the way over that this English-language bookstore, founded in 1951, had long been the center of expat literary life and that many famous writers had visited and even slept there over the years. Looking around the store, an extraordinary tribute to reading and writing as surely as the Musée d’Orsay was to art, I could see why.
I ran my fingers absently over the spines of books, picking up one classic novel and then another. A tattered copy of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders caught my attention. It looked just like the one I’d been assigned in boarding school long ago. As I leafed through it, the words on the page brought me powerfully back not to the lessons in the classroom but to the countless letters I’d written to my friends in those years. What happens to you as a teenager matters. Sometimes, the intervening decades can feel all but gone.
It’s easy to get kicked out of most boarding schools. All you have to do is break just one of the cardinal rules: no leaving campus without permission, no alcohol, no drugs of any kind, no cheating, no sex, and, above all else, no breaking of the school’s beloved honor code.
From the sparkling palaces to the broodingly sensual these opulent hotels always deliver decadence.
By PRIOR Team, January 27, 2022
More than in any other city in the world, opulent hotels in Paris are part of the culture and indeed identity of the place.
They are the distillation of a singular type of decadence and glamor that gives the city that gilded quality of extravagance.
However with the sheer number of options, changing ownerships and openings (and closings) hotels in Paris can be hard to navigate. When they are superb, then the prices they command is money well spent but when they lack that particular Parisian lustre, then the experience of the city becomes a fantasy unfulfilled.
From polish to a patina, sensual to sparkling, here are glamorous addresses that are always a pure indulgence whether it is your first or fifteenth time visiting the City of Lights.
Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…
Recreating the world of the Lost Generation in interwar Paris
Gertrude Stein. James Joyce. Ernest Hemingway. Aimé Césaire. Simone de Beauvoir. Jacques Lacan. Walter Benjamin.
All these writers were members of the Shakespeare and Company lending library.
In 1919, an American named Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop and lending library in Paris.
Almost immediately, it became the home away from home for a community of expatriate writers and artists now known as the Lost Generation. In 1922, she published James Joyce’s Ulysses under the Shakespeare and Company imprint, a feat that made her—and her bookshop and lending library—famous around the world. In the 1930s, she catered increasingly to French intellectuals, supplying English-language books and magazines from the recently rediscovered Moby-Dick to the latest issues of The New Yorker.
In 1941, she preemptively closed Shakespeare and Company after refusing to sell her last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake to a Nazi officer.