Just Above Sunset
March 27, 2005 - Americans in Paris

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

In his Book Wrangler column Bob Patterson asks this - “Has anyone done a book (or doctoral thesis?) on the topic of the literacy heritage of Paris in American literature?” 


Of course.  Actually, although my major in graduate school at Duke was eighteenth century British literature, my minor was twentieth century American.  I wrote a few papers on what was going on over there, mostly concentrating on Sherwood Anderson, who wrote Winesburg, Ohio while there.  I like that book.


For a walking tour of who lived where, with photographs of each place, see this -


The tour?


Day One (Cooper, Irving, James, Emerson, Twain, McCullers)

Day Two (Pound, Dos Passos, Jones, Three Mountains Press)

Day Three (Stein, Toklas, Wolfe, Barney, Baldwin, Miller, Tarkington, Longfellow, Wright)

Day Four (Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Stein, Toklas, Pound, Porter)

Day Five (Cather, Wright, MacLeish, Eliot, Wharton, Twain, Black Sun Press)

Day Six (James, Steinbeck, Lewis, Shaw, Henry Adams, Buchwald, Fitzgerald)

Day Seven  (Montparnasse and its Cafes, Millay, Porter, Miller)

Day Eight (Pere-Lachaise: Wright, Stein, Toklas, Jim Morrison)


And try this -


Top 10 Books About American Writers in Paris from Esther Lombardi …


She mentions Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, E. E. Cummings, Cole Porter, Henry Miller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, and John Dos Passos.


And here’s her list - 


1) Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology

by Adam Gopnik (Editor). Library of America. From the publisher: "Including stories, letters, memoirs, and journalism, 'Americans in Paris' distills three centuries of vigorous, glittering, and powerfully emotional writing about the place that Henry James called 'the most brilliant city in the world'."


2) Paris in Mind: Three Centuries of Americans Writing About Paris

by Jennifer Lee (Editor). Vintage Books. From the publisher: "Including essays, book excerpts, letters, articles, and journal entries, this seductive collection captures the long and passionate relationship Americans have had with Paris. Accompanied by an illuminating introduction, Paris in Mind is sure to be a fascinating voyage for literary travelers."


3) American Expatriate Writing and the Paris Moment: Modernism and Place

by Donald Pizer. Louisiana State University Press. From the publisher: "Montparnasse and its cafe life, the shabby working-class area of the place de la Contrescarpe and the Pantheon, the small restaurants and cafes along the Seine, and the Right Bank world of the well-to-do...for American writers self-exiled to Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, the French capital represented what their homeland could not..."


4) Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930

by Robert McAlmon, and Kay Boyle. Johns Hopkins University Press. From the publisher: "There was no more exhilarating decade in the history of modern letters than the twenties in Paris. They were all there: Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mina Loy, T. S. Eliot, Djuna Barnes, Ford Madox Ford, Katherine Mansfield, Alice B. Toklas...and with them were Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle."


5) France in Mind: An Anthology

by Alice Leccese Powers (Editor). Random House. From the publisher: "From Gertrude Stein’s Paris to Ezra Pound’s Pyrenees; from Tobias Smollett, who grumbled, to Peter Mayle, who settled in; and from Edith Wharton on falling in love to David Sedaris on falling over French grammar–here is France in all its splendor in the words of some of the best and most entertaining writers in the English language."


6) The Lights of Home: A Century of Latin American Writers in Paris

by Jason Weiss. Routledge. From the publisher: "The rich blend of international cultures, ideas, personalities, and passions cultivated in the City of Light generated an explosion of artistic exploration and creativity. Drawing upon literary analysis, historical overview, and personal interviews, The Lights of Home illuminates why so many Latin American writers chose to stay in Paris for much of their adult lives, what the experience meant for them, and how it informed their work."


7) A Place in the World Called Paris

by Steven Barclay (Editor), and Miles Hyman (Illustrator). Chronicle Books. From the publisher: "Paris—with its subtle moods, elegant charm, and sensual allure—inspires writers and visitors like no other city. 'A Place in the World Called Paris,' now in a beautiful paperback edition, collects the twentieth century's most distinguished authors writing on the unique facets of the City of Light."


8) Twilight Years: Paris in the 1930's

by William Wiser. Carroll & Graf Publishers. From the publisher: "Jauntily narrated and illustrated with a superb selection of period photographs, The Twilight Years follows Elsa Schiaparelli, T. S. Eliot, Peggy Guggenheim, the Windsors, Collette, Jean Cocteau, and a host of other colorful celebrities and literary luminaries through the ten years that continued to foster the creative revolution of the expatriate era in Paris..."


9) The Left Bank: Writers, Artists, and Politics from the Popular Front

by Herbert R. Lottman. University of Chicago Press. From the publishers: "Herbert Lottman's chronicle follows the influential players--Gide, Malraux, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Koestler, Camus, and their pro-Fascist counterparts..."


10) A Paris Year

by James T. Farrell, Dorothy Farrell and Edgar Marquess Branch. Ohio University Press. From the publisher: "Their Paris story is embedded in the lives of other expatriates like Ezra Pound and Kay Boyle, who also were defining their times. Branch's narrative is complemented by photos of persons and places interwoven with the personal and artistic growth for the young Farrells."



See also this -


Title: Continual Pilgrimage American Writers in Paris, 1944-1960
Author: Sawyer-Laucanno, Christopher
Description: Trade Paperback
Publisher: City Lights Books
Year Published: 1992

Reviewed here by Rob Couteau.




Stanford University offers a course in same this fall.  See American Writers in Paris: Twentieth-Century Expatriate Writers in Paris


This a seminar led by Professor Cecile Alduy - the Stanford Faculty in Residence in Paris for Autumn Quarter 2005-06.




From Picasso to Milan Kundera, writers and artists from all over the world have gathered to Paris to find a place for inspiration and a refuge from their native society. Whether they flee oppression (Chagall), racism (Baldwyn, Richard Wright), intolerance to diverging sexual-orientation (Gertrud Stein, Anaïs Ninn), Puritanism, Prohibition (Fitzgerald, Hemingway) or were on a quest to find themselves outside of the norm of their upbringings, they all felt irrepressibly driven toward the city of Rimbaud and Hugo. Some, like Julien Green or Nancy Huston, have even opted for French as their creative language instead of their mother-tongue. What did they discover on their journey : a privileged place to express their newly-found identity – or a stark disillusionment, confronting the myth of a liberating and all-accepting Paris to the realities of social classes, exclusion or “bourgeois” taste ? We will try to understand the urge American writers, painters and artists felt to go to this city, and retrace their steps and intellectual and artistic development by weekly on-site visits. Tours and individual investigations will aim at revealing the role of cultural institutions such as the “cafés” and “salons” in the life and creativity of the expatriate. We will see how Paris might be indeed considered as a part of American culture, as a myth, a fantasy, a longing and as an actual source of inspiration and influence.


And so on…

Click here for separate image...


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....