Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for The Quartier Latin. Paris. American Art Nouveau Posters.

Louis John Rhead (1858-1926) Dover Press
When you think of Paris what images come to your mind's eye?  Are they romantic; intellectual; historical; bohemian; revolutionary; literary; -- all of the above or more?  Cafes, American jazz, are all part of scenes past.

Woody Allen's movie, "Paris After Midnight," evoked some of these images which made the movie a hit, one of my personal favorites.

The Latin Quarter in Paris, is on the left bank of the Seine in the 5th and part of the 6th arrondissmont (neighborhood) but why called the Latin Quarter?  During the Middle Ages, Latin was the language spoken in this area which was near the Universities and intellectual gatherings and the site of many protests and social uprisings.

My father, who was a White Russian emigre, lived in Paris for a few years before coming to the United States.  Most White Russians who remained in Russia were killed. Paris welcomed them, for a while, but that is another story.  When my father arrived in the United States few years later, he had a French accent; people called him "Frenchy."  And, voila, he changed his last name to French.  When my sister and I arrived on the scene years later, that was our last name.  We never knew the real name of my dad.

His Paris was the Paris of the 1920's and early 30's and when we could get him to talk about it years later, he was circumspect and did not divulge much information.  We did hear a bit about Apache dancers, hot chocolate, some of the later singers, but not much more.  He died when my sister and I were young and not much interested in his past, regrettably, and now that family history is lost to us.

The literary magazine, "The Quartier Latin," from which this poster is printed, was printed in 1898. Lewis John Rhead, the artist, an Englishman, was one of the most popular poster designers of the late 19th century.

One of the themes of Woody Allen's movie is that nostalgia for earlier times is foolish.  Romanticising certain eras is unrealistic because in actuality, these eras were not the way we imagined them.  However, I believe we all need evocative memories, real or imagined.

Ernest Hemingway's book, A Moveable Feast, is the only book where he sounds happy.  And he was, with a new bride, a baby, his writing, and friendship with other struggling authors and artists, both poor and young.  The book is a tribute to Paris.

Are you a realist or a romantic?  


  1. I'm definitely a romantic. Even though in my mind I KNOW that nostalgia is purely an imagining of something better, I still fall prey.

  2. Me too, and I think it is a wonderful part of our personality, Kate.

  3. I think I am a good mixture of both, with romance weighing the most. I think you need to be a balance of both, don't you?

    Chontali Kirk

  4. As I think about it, you are right. And probably most of us are. I am speaking of women, of course. I think I would want the perfect match in a man, to be more of a realist, with some romance thrown in. Balance is everything, even in relationships.

  5. I tend to be a realist, with just a little of the romantic thrown in. :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

  6. I am a realist, married to a romantic so we balance each other beautifully.

  7. Like Kristen, I'm a realist, with a dash of romantic thrown in too. But I have been known to surprise myself and my loved one :)

  8. Kristen, Elizabeth, and Wendy -- I think a mix is best, and there is nothing more wonderful than a romantic husband or boyfriend, but he needs to be practical too. Timing is everything. Thanks for your comments.