21 September 2014

Joachim du Bellay, Île de la Cité, 4th arrondissement, Paris

'ICI
ÉTAIT LA MAISON
OU
LE POÈTE
JOACHIM DU BELLAY
EST MORT
AGÉ DE TRENT-SEPT ANS
LE PREMIER JANVIER 1560'

This plaque is on Île de la Cité on the corner of rue Massillon and rue Chanoinesse.

Félix Arvers on Île Saint-Louis, 4th arrondissement, Paris

'LE POÈTE FÉLIX ARVERS
est né dans cette maison le 23 JUILLET 1806'

This plaque is on 1 rue Budé. Arvers died in 1850 and, although now virtually unknown even in the country of his birth, was very popular in the 19th century. The sonnet below was so well known that several pastiches were made of it:

'Mon âme a son secret, ma vie a son mystère :
Un amour éternel en un moment conçu.
Le mal est sans espoir, aussi j'ai dû le taire,
Et celle qui l'a fait n'en a jamais rien su.

Hélas ! j'aurai passé près d'elle inaperçu,
Toujours à ses côtés, et pourtant solitaire,
Et j'aurai jusqu'au bout fait mon temps sur la terre,
N'osant rien demander et n'ayant rien reçu.

Pour elle, quoique Dieu l'ait faite douce et tendre,
Elle ira son chemin, distraite, et sans entendre
Ce murmure d'amour élevé sur ses pas ;

À l'austère devoir pieusement fidèle,
Elle dira, lisant ces vers tout remplis d'elle :
"Quelle est donc cette femme ?" et ne comprendra pas.'

20 September 2014

Lise Lamarre in Versailles, Yvelines (78): Cimetière des Gonards #5

Lise (or Louise) Lamarre was a poet and a journalist.

'LISE LAMARRE
      DONT LA VIE FUT VOUÉE
À L'ART ET À L'AMITIÉ...
                                  15 JUIN 1951'


'Esprit pur, je connais enfin la Vérité.
La Lumière, l'Amour, et ma force sereine
retrouve le but où tend l'humanité
     Lise Lamarre'

Louise Bryant in Versailles, Yvelines (78): Cimetière des Gonards #4


Louise Bryant (1885–1936) was an American writer who espoused socialist and anarchist causes. Her first marriage was to John Reed – who died in 1920 – and she moved to Paris with her second husband, William Bullitt, in 1923. A few years later she was diagnosed with Dercum's disease.  Bulitt divorced her due to her heavy drinking and her lesbian relationship with Gwen Le Gallienne, and Bryant died in in Sèvres of a brain hemorrhage.

The film Reds (1980) is a representation of the Brant and Reed story.

Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac in Versailles, Yvelines (78): Cimetière des Gonards #3

A superb image of a dandy: the gay poet Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855–1921) was the model for Esseintes in Huysmans's À Rebours (1884) and one of the models for the Baron de Charlus in Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu.


The statue on this anonymous grave is the angel of silence is from Vitry-sur-Seine château. Montesquiou is buried next to his secretary and lover Gabriel Yturri (1860–1905).

Armand Renaud in Versailles, Yvelines (78): Cimetière des Gonards #2

The Renaud plot in the Cimetière des Gonards includes a rather impressive bust of the poet Armand Renaud (1836–95).


Armand Renaud was born in Versailles and was a civil servant, progressing to inspector of fine arts. He wrote a great deal of poetry, some influenced by Persian and Japanese literature, and some of which was put to music by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921).

19 September 2014

Edith Wharton in Versailles, Yvelines (78): Cimetière des Gonards #1

'EDITH WHARTON
NÉE EDITH NEWBOLD JONES
24 JANVIER 1862 – 11 AOÛT 1937'

Edith Wharton's grave in the Cimetière des Gonards, Versailles. Below is a link to a long earlier post I made, mainly on Wharton in the Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts, with many images of her home there:

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Edith Wharton in Lenox, Massachusetts

Benjamin Fondane and René Decartes in the 5th arrondissement

The tiny rue Rollin, opposite rue du Cardinal Lemoine where Hemingway lived for a time, and which I noted a few years ago in my blog post here.

'Benjamin FONDANE
(Jassy, 1898–Auschwitz, 1944)
poète et philosophe français, habita dans cette maison
du 15 avril 1932 au 7 mars 1944.

"souvenez-vous seulement que j'était innocent
et que, tout comme vous, mortels de ce jour-là,
j'avais eu, moi aussi, un visage marqué
par la colère, par la pitié et la joie,

un visage d'homme tout simplement!"'

Poet, playwright, essayist and literary critique Benjamin Fondane was born in Romania as Benjamin Wechsler, moved to France in 1923 and mainly wrote in French. In 1944 he was arrested by the Vichy police, sent to Drancy and then to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in a Nazi gas chamber.

'ICI A VÉCU
RENÉ DESCARTES
1596 – 1650

ÉTABLI AUX PAYS-BAS, LE PHILOSOPHE FRANÇAIS
HABITA CETTE MAISON LORS DE SES SÉJOURS PARISIENS
DE 1644, 1647 ET 1648

"ME TENANT COMME JE SUIS, UN PIED DANS UN PAYS ET
L'AUTRE EN UN AUTRE, JE TROUVE MA CONDITION TRÈS
HEUREUSE, EN CE QU'ELLE EST LIBRE"
(Lettre à la princesse Elisabeth de Bohême, Paris 1648)'

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'RENÉ DESCARTES
LIVED HERE
1596 – 1650

BASED IN THE NETHERLANDS, THE FRENCH PHILOSOPHER
LIVED IN THIS HOUSE DURING HIS STAYS IN PARIS
IN 1644, 1647 AND 1648

"AS I AM, ONE FOOT IN ONE COUNTRY AND
THE OTHER IN ANOTHER, I FIND MY SITUATION VERY
FORTUNATE, IN TERMS OF FREEDOM"
(Letter to Princess Elisabeth de Bohême, Paris 1648)'

18 September 2014

Raymond Queneau in Juvisy-sur-Orge, Essonne

'RAYMOND QUENEAU
1903 – 1976'

Queneau lies with his parents in the small cemetery of Juvisy-sur-Orge, Essonne. Famous above all for his crazy novel Zazie dans le métro, which Louis Malle turned into an equally crazy film. He is also noted for being the co-founder of the experimental literary group Oulipo, a group particularly interested in constraints – Georges Perec's e-less La Disparition (A Void in English) being an obvious example.

Queneau's novel Les Enfants du Limon (1938) – translated as Children of Clay – was the best he could make of his work on 'fous littéraires' (roughly 'outsider writers'), but one which came like a thunderbolt to André Blavier and probably saved him from killing himself. Blavier's reference book Les Fous littéraires – a huge work of information on writers of largely self-published works so crazy that almost no publisher would touch them – is the generally acknowledged authority on this area of literature. It's unfortunate that not many people are aware of this superb labour of love.

There is now a Médiathèque Raymond-Queneau in Juvisy-sur-Orge.

The bouquinistes, Paris

'Histoire de Paris
Les premiers bouquinistes

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Dès 1530, l'essor du livre contribue au rayonnement de
la capitale. A côté des grands libraires et impri-
meurs établis au Quartier latin apparaissent très tôt
des colporteurs de gazettes et libelles: ils n'ont
pas droit aux boutiques et installent leur fonds sur
des tréteaux, voire des pièces de toile posées à
même le sol, quand ils ne transportent pas leur
marchandise dans un panier d'osier suspendu à
leur cou. une sentence du bailli du Palais de jus-
tice, datée de 1578, en autorise 12, contraints
de se fixer deux par deux sur 6 emplacements
autorisés, aux alentours du pont
Saint-Michel de Notre-Dame.
Les autres subsistent dans
l'illégalité, jusqu'en 1618, où
ils sont tenus de porter
sur leur pourpoint une
"marque ou écusson
de cuivre".'

The bouquinistes on the left and right banks of the Seine, with their distinctive uniform dark green stands padlocked (an unfortunate word these days) to the quayside walls, are an integral part of the atmosphere of this intensely literary city. The bouquinistes somehow survive in spite of Fnac, Gibert Jeune, the many secondhand bookstores, and most of all the mighty internet.

So it's interesting to read above of the intellectual development of Paris with its bookstores and printers way back in the 16th century, and the peddlers of books at first illegally selling their wares from trestles, willow baskets hung round their necks, and even from cloth spread out on the ground.

But I wonder if the writer, along with (m)any tourists passing by the bouquinistes, have seen the present-day 'peddlers' still unofficially selling their secondhand goods on bedsheets in poorer areas of Paris.

17 September 2014

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, 5th arrondissement, Paris


The very impressive statue of the writer and botanist (Jacques-Henri) Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814) in the Jardin des Plantes, where for a short time he was intendant.

At the base of the statue is a brief summary of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's literary creations, not all of the dates of publication of which are necessarily correct:

'VOYAGE [À] L’ÎLE DE FRANCE 1773
ÉTUDE DE LA NATURE 1784–1788
PAUL ET VIRGINIE 1788
CHAUMIÈRE INDIENNE 1791
HARMONIES DE LA NATURE 1795'

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's most famous work is of course the novel Paul et Virginie, of which this representation of the two protagonists are also at the base of the statue.

15 September 2014

Boris Vian in Ville d'Avray, Hauts-de-Seine (92)

33 rue Pradier, Ville d'Avray.

'ICI VÉCUT
BORIS VIAN
ÉCRIVAIN POÈTE ET MUSICIEN
VILLE D'AVRAY 1920
PARIS 1959'

At the other side of the entrance is another plaque:

'ICI VÉCUT avec sa FAMILLE
de 1930 à 1955
YEHUDI MENUHIN
CITOYEN d'HONNEUR
de VILLE d'AVRAY'

And next door is yet another plaque:

'ICI VÉCUT DE 1922  À 1977
JEAN ROSTAND
BIOLOGISTE ET HUMANISTE'

In the small cimetière de Ville d’Avray there is no indication on Vian's grave that he does in fact lie here in the town of his birth, but then this is perhaps appropriate for a man with a huge number of pseudonyms.

Far removed from the many strollers around much larger cemetries within the Périphérique such as Père-Lachaise, Montparnasse and Montmartre, this is in a more distant quiet town, and is a little haven that nevertheless receives occasional visits from Vian's followers:


Cimetière de Passy #7: Renée Vivien


'ICI REPOSE
LA GRANDE POÉTESSE
RENÉE VIVIEN
PAULINE MARY TARN
Décédée
LE 18 NOVEMBRE
1909

ÉPITAPHE

Voici la porte d'où je sors...
Ô mes roses et mes épines!
Qu'importe l'autrefois? Je dors
En songeant des choses divines...
Voici donc mon âme ravie,
Car elle s'apaise et s'endort
Avant pour l'amour de la Mort,
Pardonné ce crime: la Vie!

Renée Vivien'

Renée Vivien (1877–1909), née Pauline Mary Tarn in London, was the daughter of an American woman and a wealthy British man who died in 1886, leaving her far from need. Vivien travelled a great deal and had a stormy relationship with Natalie Barney, who is also buried in Passy, and whom I mentioned here.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

14 September 2014

Cimetière de Passy #6: Gérard de Villiers

'Gérard de VILLIERS
1929–2013
SAS'

This is of course a recent addition to the cemetery, and again I'm grateful to the anonymous and very helpful man who pointed this out to us. The 'SAS' above refers to an imprint devoted to spy books, and Wikipedia tells me that Gérard de Villiers is considered by many as a 'roman de gare' (more or less a 'beach read') author.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Cimetière de Passy #5: Haroun Tazieff

'Haroun TAZIEFF
(11 mai 1914 – 2 février 1998)

Mondialement connu pour ses travaux
sur les volcans en activité.
Pendant près de 40 ans, il est appelé en consultation
dans les pays où une catastrophe survient.
Il dirige ses recherches sur le terrain
suscitant de nombreuses vocations
et le renouveau des sciences de la terre.'

Vulcanologist Haroun Tazieff may be known throughout the world for his work, although I doubt that many people have heard of him in the UK, but then there aren't too many volcanoes there.

I wouldn't even have noticed this grave if a very helpful local hadn't pointed it out to us, adding that the artwork in Mayan style is actually made from lava.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Cimetière de Passy #4: Henri Bernstein

'HENRI BERNSTEIN
JUIN 1876 – NOVEMBRE 1953'

Henri Bernstein was a playwright who found popularity with Le Voleur (1906). He later achieved notoriety with Après moi (1911), a play involving a Jewish deserter, and Bernstein had 'deserted' during his military service.

From 1926 to 1939 Bernstein directed the Théâtre du Gymnase and was noted for such plays La Rafale (1905), La Galerie des Glaces (1924), Mélo (1929), Le Bonheur (1933) and Elvire (1939), the last of which featured concentration camps.

Bernstein was in exile in the United States duriung World War II, where Portrait d'un défaitiste – a representation of Petain – met with considerable interest.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Cimetière de Passy #3: André Siegfried

'ANDRÉ SIEGFRIED
DE L'ACADÉMIE
FRANÇAISE
1875–1959'

André Siegfried was a French sociologist, historian, geographer and proto-psephologist. His publications are diverse and numerous.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

13 September 2014

Cimetière de Passy #2: Francis de Croisset


Francis de Croisset (1877 – not 1876 as on the tomb – to 1937) was born Franz Weiner in Belgium and moved to Paris in 1897, choosing the name 'Croisset' because of its associations with Flaubert. He sought scandal through his plays, was frequently in the newspapers, and was the inspiration behind Proust's Bloch and Jacques du Roszier. On marrying he moved to Grasse, although he spent his final years in Paris.

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Cimetière de Passy #1: Gordon Bennett

James Gordon Bennett junior (1841–1918) published the New York Herald, which was founded by his father. His sometimes wholly unacceptable behavior probably led to the phrase 'Gordon Bennett' (now outdated) being used as an expression of disbelief. Bennett spent much of his time in London and Paris.

Oddly, the small chapel in the cimetière de Passy doesn't bear his name, and the only thing of note (apart from the owl above the doorway) is the window with this representation of a ship:

Below is a link to an earlier post I made on graves in Passy:

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Passy graves

Roger Martin du Gard in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines (78)

Roger Martin du Gard (1881–1958), who won the Nobel Prize for Litterature in 1937, lived in Maisons-Laffitte from 1890 to 1895. He based the house above, in the place Wagram, on the patriarch Oliver Thibault's summer house in Les Thibault.

Arthur Koestler in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines (78)

2 place de Wagram, Maisons-Laffitte.

'Arthur
KOESTLER
1905–1983
Écrivain engagé
a sejourné en 1934
dans cette maison.'

'La Villa Voltaire', as it was then called, was built in 1838 by Saint Georges Catherine Molesworth. In the 1930s it became a children's garden nicknamed 'La Pouponnière' ('The Crèche' | 'The Nursery'), which Koestler organised for two months. He welcomed children whose parents were Jews or communists pursued by the Nazis. Koestler also wrote his first novel here, although it was never published.