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Twilight of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends through the Great War Kindle Edition

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Length: 432 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In her prior work, Dawn of the Belle Epoque (2011), historian McAuliffe recounted how Paris, reeling from the disasters of the ­Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, reemerged as the glittering cultural center of Europe in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. During the so-called belle epoque, art, literature, and science bloomed in a creative outburst, led by a cast of innovative geniuses, including Zola, Monet, Rodin, and Renoir. In her follow-up, McAuliffe covers the period from 1900 to 1918. The cast of characters as well as the political and social milieu have changed somewhat, but cultural, scientific, and technological creativity continued to flourish. But as McAuliffe indicates, the epoch had its dark side, including the ongoing and increasingly vicious battles between monarchists and republicans, and Catholics versus secularists. The more prescient observers were haunted by the looming threat of a general European war. This is a fine tribute to an amazingly productive period in Parisian and world history. --Jay Freeman

Review

McAuliffe completes her chronicle of Paris–begun with Dawn of the Belle Epoque–with this volume, similar in scope and content to her initial offering. Paris serves as the essential backdrop for a year-by-year summary of the lives, loves, and achievements of the city's academic and cultural elite. The author has a keen eye for the telling, tantalizing, and occasionally titillating detail, and she has mined a host of solid secondary works as well as printed journals and memoirs to assemble this portrait. Casual readers will be astonished at the book's dramatis personae: not only Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, the Curies, and Gertrude Stein––all name-dropped on the cover––but also Clemenceau, Rodin, Bernhardt, Duncan, Zola, Debussy, and Matisse. All told, an astonishing outpouring of artistic ability and achievement. Scholars will find a wealth of detail that brings to life the figures of tout Paris. Like its companion volume, this second 'gossipy soufflé' will charm all who love Paris, French history, and the arts. It would make a wonderful travel companion for those Paris bound, and a delightful read for all. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All 20th-century collections. (CHOICE)

In Twilight of the Belle Epoque, this brilliant social historian applies her novelistic approach . . . to the early 20th century, interweaving a multitude of stories to create—through skillfully chosen glimpses into the lives of its most talented inhabitants—an unforgettable portrait of Paris. . . . Deftly, McAuliffe gathers together the threads of her multiple tales for the arrival of that ultimate rite: war. Here, to her readers’ possible surprise, the artists and inventors emerge as heroes. . . . Summary reduces the various elements of McAuliffe’s marvelous book to a mere cocktail of events. Harder to convey is the subtlety of the mix. With uncommon skill, she blends each ingredient of an incredible époque into a vivid and hugely enjoyable narrative of extraordinary times. (New York Times)

However tentative its beginning and disastrous its end, the Third Republic had its glories, as Mary McAuliffe reminds us in Twilight of the Belle Epoque. The years between 1870 and 1914 were a time when Paris could fairly claim to be the cultural capital of the world. This was the France of the Impressionists and post-Impressionists, of Rodin and the young Picasso, Matisse and Braque, the France of Proust and Gide, of Debussy and Ravel. Paris became the City of Light, the center of fashion. The cinema was born; the Métro was built. The Renault brothers and André Citroën created an automobile industry. Pierre and Marie Curie, discovering the properties of radium, prepared the way for advances that transformed the modern world.

In her panoramic chronicle, Ms. McAuliffe takes up all these topics, giving a year-by-year account of the second half of the era, just as she treated its first half in Dawn of the Belle Epoque (2011). Her strict chronological format creates a series of surprising juxtapositions: On one page, a young Charles de Gaulle marvels at a performance by Sarah Bernhardt ; on the next, Picasso walks around Paris wielding a gun passed down by the avant-garde troublemaker Alfred Jarry. This is a work of serious history, but has some of the easy charms of the coffee-table book and is full of gossip. (When Bernhardt's anti-Dreyfus son offends her during dinner, she angrily shatters a plate.) . . . All of Ms. McAuliffe's Belle Epoque moments, bright and foreboding, build to the horrors and glories of the war of 1914-18, in which France suffered losses of almost 1.5 million men, with some three million more wounded. (Wall Street Journal)

Fascinating trivia about artists in turn-of-the-century Paris adds layers of insight to a time of growth and experimentation...McAuliffe is uniquely positioned to bring this crowded cast of characters to life. She does a thorough job of cataloging the wide range of artistic and scientific achievements while managing to also offer surprising tidbits that add texture to the narrative...McAuliffe’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for this time is evident on every page. (Foreword Reviews)

In her prior work, Dawn of the Belle Epoque (2011), historian McAuliffe recounted how Paris, reeling from the disasters of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, reemerged as the glittering cultural center of Europe in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. During the so-called Belle Epoque, art, literature, and science bloomed in a creative outburst, led by a cast of innovative geniuses, including Zola, Monet, Rodin, and Renoir. In her follow-up, McAuliffe covers the period from 1900 to 1914. The cast of characters as well as the political and social milieu have changed somewhat, but the cultural, scientific, and technological creativity continued to flourish. But as McAuliffe indicates, the epoch had its dark side, including the ongoing and increasingly vicious battles between monarchists and republicans, and Catholics versus secularists. The more prescient observers were haunted by the looming threat of a general European war. This is a fine tribute to an amazingly productive period in Parisian and world history. (Booklist)

McAuliffe follows up her Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends with this book taking readers forward a few decades. It’s actually not so much a history of a time as a collection of biographies—over 30 of them—of early 20th-century French inventors, politicians, and artists. The author divides the book by year, with each chapter relating significant events in the life of the main subjects during that one year. . . . McAuliffe has an eye for the evocative, using quotes—and salacious details—to bring these early 20th-century men and women to life, several of whom—Rodin, Zola, the Curies—were covered in her previous book (she orients readers in case they did not read that volume). The author excels at including material about women throughout. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoyed the previous volume and for biography junkies. (Library Journal)

A sequel to her Dawn of the Belle Epoque, which took readers from the Franco-Prussian war to the 1900 Universal Exposition, McAuliffe’s Twilight introduces a new cast of characters. Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Marie Curie and Gertrude Stein are just a few of the creative dynamos who appear in the pages of this new volume—a lively account of an era of literary, artistic and technical innovation that ended with the world-altering tragedy of WWI. (France Magazine)

McAuliffe revisits this vibrant, controversial era and weaves brief chronological snapshots of the eponymous figures—plus others like Sarah Bernhardt and Émile Zola—and their (often long-suffering) companions throughout her . . . eminently readable . . . narrative. (Publishers Weekly)

From 1900 through the beginning of World War I, Paris was the place to be if you were an artist, author, musician, scientist, or trendsetter of any kind. Some of the most famous names that helped shape history flocked to share ideas, garner support for their cause, or simply to soak up all that creativity. In the book Twilight of the Belle Epoque, author Mary McAuliffe follows up on her first book Dawn of the Belle Epoque to take readers back to this illustrious age and shows how the looming threat of violence in Europe brought an end to one of the most creative periods in history.
(Quincy Herald-Whig)

With Twilight of the Belle Epoque Mary McAuliffe offers a delightful romp through one of the most vibrant periods in French history, even as she elegantly captures the shadows looming on the horizon. Those unfamiliar with this period will be awestruck by its riches, while connoisseurs will delight as McAuliffe brings to life the colorful cast of artists and innovators—from Picasso to Peugeot—who ushered in the twentieth century in the City of Light. (Rachel Mesch, Yeshiva College; author of Having It All in the Belle Epoque)

Twilight of the Belle Epoque provides an immensely enjoyable whirlwind account of the many artists, innovators, and dreamers of all stripes who were drawn to the City of Lights in the first years of the twentieth century to pursue their quest for glory. (Stéphane Kirkland, author of Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City)

You dive into this book, this period, with a swirl of the Paris Exposition of 1900, rushing to the opening of the Metro, over to the summer Olympics in Paris, the racing of cars round the street. . . . Happily read as a stand-alone but you may well thirst for the detail from Dawn of Belle Epoque. . . .The dazzling excitement of the opening chapter runs through to the intrusion and attrition of the war, completing this finely detailed, researched period. . . .[An] exceptional book. (Wordparc)

Product Details

  • File Size: 17788 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (March 16, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 16, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J3L4JFE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,063 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book makes it easy to get caught up in the intertwined lives of painters, composers, entrepreneurs, politicians, innovators, performers, and scientists from the later years of France’s Belle Epoque. After loving the first volume, Dawn of the Belle Epoque, I knew I had to read this title and was not disappointed.

Each chapter covers one year from 1900 to 1918--so through The Great War, WWI--with a rich mix of returning characters. We learn about the achievements, love affairs, feuds, ambitions, and failures of many luminaries of the age including Monet, Degas, Picasso, Matisse, Ravel, Louis Renault, Stravinsky, Charles De Gaulle, Debussy, Coco Chanel, Marcel Proust, Georges Clemenceau, Isadora Duncan, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, André Citroën, Paul Poiret, François Coty, Nijinsky, Sarah Bernhardt, Dreyfus, and Diaghilev.

Among my favorite moments are Marie Curie and her family hiking with Einstein and his, Marcel Proust returning from an evening walk with shrapnel on his hat because though he was afraid of mice German air raids didn’t scare him and he even found the lit up skies beautiful, and a determined young Charles De Gaulle captured by the Germans while serving in the French army managing to repeatedly escape from increasingly locked down POW fortifications only to be caught each time and returned to prison.

If you want depth on any particular individual you’ll have to go elsewhere but Twilight of the Belle Epoque provides a lively, fascinating, and surprisingly moving overview of the era and many of its most interesting people. I read an advanced copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Winfred Prange on April 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I found the study very readable and in-depth in the way she wove the lives of the poets, artists, musicians and the history during the two decades, much like the novelist John Dos Passos did in his USA Trilogy. Her work is in the high echelon of belle epoque and fin de siecle studies such as Raymond Rudorff's the belle epoque paris in the nineties, 1972, and wittgensteins vienna by Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin, 1973, and 1996.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By webwiz99 on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A page-turner, the book has highly interesting insights into
and researched stories about the main characters named in
the title. The sketches of the individuals are very personal
and lively. It is most interesting to read how they
interacted with one another, i.e., both the admiration and
competitiveness between Matisse and Picasso, as well as
the signal role the Stein family had in promoting both.

The text abruptly shifts from one character to the other ---
and then comes back to each. That takes a little getting-used-to,
but the effort is well worth while and the reading most enjoyable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By heather on May 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Mary McAuliffe will take you back into another time in Paris. She has done her research and it shows. Her book is wonderful and you can almost picture yourself in her book with the characters. There are so many fabulous characters in her book that it makes you want to reread the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip L. Tudor on October 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am combining in this review "Dawn of the Belle Epoque" and "Twilight of the Belle Epoque" which together provide an amazingly readable and interesting history of the major cultural, political, architectura, sociological and military events of France from 1871 to 1918. The author addresses the private and public lives of major artists, composers, authors, politicians, dancers and actresses during this period as well as their many many mistresses and serial boyfriends. Not only does the author provide information on the external accomplishments of these people, but also interesting details of their private lives. Author Mary McAuliffe holds reader interest by providing short vignettes of numerous people as she travels upwards through time; so the reader will get a couple of pages about Sarah Bernhardt, followed by a few paragraphs about Monet, etc. Thus the books are never boring and provide a wealth of knowledge without seeming dry at all. I wish Mary McAulliffe would continue her series of the history of France to the present day in this method, as I would love to know more about French history, and have never read an author who so readibly conveys the essence of historical events in such a readable and enjoyable way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maureen M. Agnew on August 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is, first of all, full of information that focuses on reknowned Parisians in the years 1900 through the end of World War I, in 1918. The subtitle of the book lists some of the people covered: Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, and Gertrude Stein. In addition, others from many diverse fields are included: Isadora Duncan, Rodin, Debussy, Eric Satie. And these are only a sampling. Ms. McAuliffe appears to be a scrupulous scholar who annotates everything and even gives more than one view of a fact when there is a dispute. She wisely decides to organize her work by years, each chapter devoted to a year beginning with 1900. In this way the historical forces play their all-important part in the lives of those she writes about. Admirable though all of this is, she has produced a very readable work of non-fiction that, despite all the famous Parisians in it, is not confusing at all. She identifies even the minor characters with enough detail each time s/he is mentioned so that the reader is not confused. With the centenary of World War I occurring this year, much scrutiny is being given to this historical period, and this book is an excellent way to look at its time and its people.
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