Monday 27 April 2020

Review: Paris by Julian Green

'Until you have wasted time in a city you cannot pretend to know it well' pg 35

Julian Green was born to American parents in Paris in 1900 and spent most of life growing up in the city. This book is like a journal detailing his walks around the city he loved the most. He had a knack of finding the hidden secrets of the city. He also had an extensive knowledge of the city as well as a keen eye for architectural changes.  
The book is unique as it a bilingual edition. You have the original French version on the left hand page and the English translation on the right. 
It's very clear from the beginning, that he really enjoyed exploring the streets of Paris, but there is a melancholy atmosphere to is as he recalls how the city used to look before the devastation of war. Many have found this novel to be mesmerising and uplifting, but for me I found it quite depressing. I could feel his outrage over the way things had changed and how certain areas were still suffering from neglect after the war. I also got the feeling that he really didn't enjoy sharing his city with tourists. I got the impression that he felt  a superior ownership of Paris. 
The language within the book is very poetic, but too flowery for my personal taste and the writing wasn't as descriptive as I hoped. My plan had been to increase my knowledge of Paris for my dissertation, but unfortunately it didn't meet the criteria I'd believed it would. 
The only parts that really enthralled me were the the sections on Notre Dame and the Seine. 
If you are looking for an imaginative view of Paris from a personal point of view, this book may be for you. 

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