Saturday, May 21, 2016

"Paris Vagabond" by Jean-Paul Clébert; Introduction by Luc Sante (NYRB)

ISBN: 978-1-59017-957-4 NYRB

"Paris Vagabond" by Jean-Pual Clébert, Foreword by Luc Sante (NYRB)

Luc Sante with his "The Other Paris" wrote one of the two ultimate books on that beloved city.  He also wrote an introduction to the other essential book on the French capital that is by Jean-Paul Clébert called "Paris Vagabond."  Like "The Other Paris" this book reeks of the underclass or the belly of Parisian culture, with its homeless, drunks, criminals, streetwalkers, and everything between.   Encouraged by Blaise Cendrars, Clébert wrote the ultimate book in early 1950s on the culture that was not celebrated by overseas tourists in Paris.  Wandering from one neighborhood to the next, Clébert recorded with a pen or pencil on newsprint, wrote about those who fell or lived in the cracks of Paris.  Impressionistic as well as documentation he covers the waterfront that to some, is pure hell.  Yet, it is virtually a Jean Genet love of the squalor and dirt of the Parisian underworld.   Throughout the book it is illustrated with photographs by Patrice Molinard, who begin his career taking images for Georges Franju's documentary "Le sang des bêtes."   His aesthetic or documentation fits perfectly with Clébert's realistic poetic prose.  A superb translation by Donald Nicholson-Smith, this is the book on Paris.  A total classic. 

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