Paris: The Secret History

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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If Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon described daily life in contemporary Paris, this book describes daily life in Paris throughout its history: a history of the city from the point of view of the Parisians themselves. Paris captures everyone's imaginations: It's a backdrop for Proust's fictional pederast, Robert Doisneau's photographic kiss, and Edith Piaf's serenaded soldier-lovers; a home as much to romance and love poems as to prostitution and opium dens. The many pieces of the city coexist, each one as real as the next. What's more, the conflicted identity of the city is visible everywhere-between cobblestones, in bars, on the métro.
In this lively and lucid volume, Andrew Hussey brings to life the urchins and artists who've left their marks on the city, filling in the gaps of a history that affected the disenfranchised as much as the nobility. Paris: The Secret History ranges across centuries, movements, and cultural and political beliefs, from Napoleon's overcrowded cemeteries to Balzac's nocturnal flight from his debts. For Hussey, Paris is a city whose long and conflicted history continues to thrive and change. The book's is a picaresque journey through royal palaces, brothels, and sidewalk cafés, uncovering the rich, exotic, and often lurid history of the world's most beloved city.
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About the author

Andrew Hussey is a cultural historian and biographer. His previous book, a critically acclaimed biography of Guy Debord, was published in 2001. He is Lecturer in French studies at the University of Aberystwyth and divides his time between Ireland, Wales, and Paris.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
Jul 22, 2010
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Pages
512
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ISBN
9781608192373
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / France
History / Europe / General
History / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner--in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades--but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café--a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive.

So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik's beloved and award-winning "Paris Journals" in The New Yorker know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Musée d'Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a "culinary crisis."

As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys--both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. "We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation-I did anyway-even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education."
« Magnifique... À chaque coin de rue, à chaque coin de page, on découvre quelque chose de nouveau. » The Observer Après deux siècles d’histoire tourmentée et parfois de panache, Paris est-il devenu une belle capitale endormie ? Ou bien son esprit rebelle renaîtra-t-il de sous les pavés ? Voici une magistrale dissection du mythe parisien, un récit plus vrai que nature, brassant les années 1800 - 2008, où les couleurs se mêlent aux révélations pour former une histoire édifiante, loin des cartes postales figées. L’âme de Paris est recomposée à travers les yeux des artistes et des classes de l’ombre, et la grande Histoire s’en trouve éclairée sous un jour surprenant. Du Champ-de-Mars à Belleville, de Saint-Germain-des-Prés aux Halles, le récit virevolte dans les recoins les plus inattendus, révélant des faits et des lieux que d’autres historiens ont préféré occulter, de peur de se salir les mains. L’auteur dresse aussi une histoire de la scène littéraire et artistique : Victor Hugo, Balzac, Georges Bataille, Sartre et les existentialistes, Guy Debord ou Michel Houellebecq. Ce livre est une démonstration implacable sur la façon dont le pouvoir tente, depuis deux cents ans, de museler l’esprit frondeur de la capitale. Un esprit impérissable, qui de temps en temps explose, comme ce fut le cas en Mai 68. Comme ce sera peut-être le cas demain ? Andrew Hussey, universitaire, dirige les études françaises à l’université du London Institute à Paris. Journaliste, il collabore avec la BBC, The Guardian et The Observer. Il vit à Paris.
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