Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London

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A New York Times Notable Book of 2017

The flâneur is the quintessentially masculine figure of privilege and leisure who strides the capitals of the world with abandon. But it is the flâneuse who captures the imagination of the cultural critic Lauren Elkin. In her wonderfully gender-bending new book, the flâneuse is a “determined, resourceful individual keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city and the liberating possibilities of a good walk.” Virginia Woolf called it “street haunting”; Holly Golightly epitomized it in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; and Patti Smith did it in her own inimitable style in 1970s New York.

Part cultural meander, part memoir, Flâneuse takes us on a distinctly cosmopolitan jaunt that begins in New York, where Elkin grew up, and transports us to Paris via Venice, Tokyo, and London, all cities in which she’s lived. We are shown the paths beaten by such flâneuses as the cross-dressing nineteenth-century novelist George Sand, the Parisian artist Sophie Calle, the wartime correspondent Martha Gellhorn, and the writer Jean Rhys. With tenacity and insight, Elkin creates a mosaic of what urban settings have meant to women, charting through literature, art, history, and film the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes fraught relationship that women have with the metropolis.

Called “deliciously spiky and seditious” by The Guardian, Flâneuse will inspire you to light out for the great cities yourself.

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About the author

Lauren Elkin's essays have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Book Review, frieze, and The Times Literary Supplement, and she is a contributing editor at The White Review. A native New Yorker, she moved to Paris in 2004. Currently living on the Right Bank after years on the Left, she can generally be found ambling around Belleville.
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Additional Information

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Feb 28, 2017
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Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
History / Women
Social Science / Gender Studies
Travel / Essays & Travelogues
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller!

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Un ensayo reivindicativo sobre la experiencia singular de pasear siendo mujer. El flâneur nació en el París del siglo XIX. Su hábitat natural eran los bulevares y las galerías de la ciudad. "La multitud es su dominio, como el aire es el del pájaro, como el agua el del pez", escribió Charles Baudelaire. El flâneur es un hombre ocioso que pasea y observa a la vez, pero desde la distancia: no se involucra. Sin embargo, para Baudelaire la flâneuse no existe. Las mujeres no tenían la libertad de los hombres para acceder a las calles de la ciudad porque se veían reducidas a ser objeto de la mirada de los paseantes. ¿Qué es entonces una flâneuse? Una mujer que no solo contempla, sino que también participa. Su presencia en un espacio que tradicionalmente no le pertenece supone un desafío. Donde el flâneur mira, la flâneuse perturba y subvierte. Elkin hace un recorrido literal y metafórico por las ciudades en las que ha vivido; a través de sus paseos nos descubre una nueva mirada y reivindica el derecho de las mujeres a pasear. La flâneuse se detiene en los detalles y amplía la mirada, toma notas de su propia experiencia y las entrelaza con las de otras artistas, escritoras, cineastas y periodistas (George Sand, Sophie Calle, Martha Gellhorn o Agnès Varda) a las que admira y cuyas visiones han formado y transformado la de la propia autora. De Nueva York a Londres, de París a Venecia pasando por Tokio, cada ciudad encierra el juego, la fascinación, el peligro y la familiaridad que sirven a la autora para reclamar el derecho de las mujeres a pasear por la ciudad, a ocupar el espacio público y a alejarse de lo que se supone que deben ser para cambiar sus vidas por completo: "Dejadme pasear. Dejad que vaya a mi ritmo. Dejad que sienta cómo se mueve la vida a través y alrededor de mí. Dadme emoción. Dadme esquinas curvas inesperadas. Dadme iglesias inquietantes, bonitos escaparates y parques en los que pueda tumbarme".
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