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Paris Hardcover – 1983
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
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I like the guys writing. He seems like a poetic, thoughtful person.
Its a well rounded book. it has writing and many photos.
If you are looking for a purely photo book then i am a little ify about this one.
majority of the "color" photos are actually photos of paintings. not actually photos of the city.
the photos are mostly black and white,
I lived in Paris for 2 years and studied at the Ecole Normale de Musique. from 2010-2012.
I was looking more for a book with photo's that would take my mind and soul back to the city.
This was not the book to accomplish that. I was looking more for a display of gorgeous pictures of the city. only a few of the color photo's in the book show the cities magnificence. color is a huge part to the effectual quality of a visual display.
I remember seeing the fireworks over the Chateau or Versailles and being on the Arc de Triomphe overlooking the entire city near sunset. or at montmarte on a sunny day with dream like clouds.
very few books visual aspect capture that mood.
i think one of them is "Spectacular Paris". (If you guys have any suggestions of a color photo book of Paris let me know? :) )
other than that it is a great book.
well done. the book is a fine one and deserves 5 stars,
its a well rounded book. has color, black and white, a good text with detailed explanation which explains the city.
it is not a purely visual book. the text correlates to allot of the photo's.
I first read "Paris" in a small garret under the eaves of a grand Parisian hotel. It had been one of the hottest days on record and my room had no air-conditioning. Nor does Paris shut down for the night. However, I had an imposing view of a street, lined with facades of a "huge blank pompous featureless sameness" that was deplored by Henry James. And I had this book, which turned that airless Parisian night into magic. Its author has a knack for spotting the most telling detail--from the "heavy, gun-metaled print of a mid-nineteenth-century thumb" where he starts his tour in the Louvre, to the very borders of Ile de France where he ultimately bids his readers farewell under the "immensities of the upper air" that were a painter's dream. "Light, then, first: and air."
In many aspects of their lives, John Russell finds Parisians to be "a secretive, devious, ungiving people." Buildings are there to hide things, not expose them to every passing tourist. However, this book puts all of the charming (and not so charming) details of interior life on view. There are the velvet-lined elevators of the original Galeries Lafayette, whose builder's passion "was to conquer the female race"--in the shopping sense of 'conquer.' There are Anglophile pubs, and expensive 'bars-à-filles,' where "the lights glow rose-to-amber, the windows are curtained with carpet, ...a sad bargain can be driven at any hour of the day, and the atmosphere is inexpugnably 'triste'."
One of my favorite descriptions is of Balzac's house on the street that now bears his name. Like so many other Parisians, the nineteenth-century author succumbed to the contagion of High Victorian style. Hardly a surface in the house was left unsculpted or unencrusted with bronze, tortoiseshell, and buttercup damask. The bathroom was built of yellow stone and covered with bas-reliefs in stucco. Once shut inside Balzac's library, a stranger might never find her way out again, because even the door was lined with bookshelves.
The author is equally at home in every Parisian milieu, from palace to 'bar-à-fille.' As Rosamond Bernier says in her introduction to this book, "No one else could combine the feel and the look, the heart and the mind, the stones and the trees, the past and the present, the wits, the eccentrics, and the geniuses of my favorite city with such easy grace."
"Paris" is adorned with 310 illustrations (many of them charming old photographs), including 85 colored plates, all personally chosen by John Russell.
If a trip to Paris is even the merest glimmer on your event horizon, read this book. You can lug it to Paris like I did, or snuggle up to it in the comfort of your own room. And dream.
As one example of this, Russell talks of the fact that Parisians are not particularly impressed by their famous authors, artists, statesmen, etc. To wit: When a great man dies, Parisians give themselves over to grief that seems almost inconsolable, but on the way home from the miles long funeral procession, "they remind themselves that for every great Parisian who lies in a vault there is another great Parisian ....."
Russell says that Paris is a city of impulse, a city in which to act on impulse is one of the secrets of happiness. This, to me, is why the typical three day whirlwind tour of Paris is so unsatisfactory. My first visit to Paris was on just such a tour (my last one, by the way) and I left feeling that I'd really missed something. Following Russell's excellent advice, I came back a few years later and spent a month taking life on a day by day basis. This visit was much more fulfilling and I have PARIS to thank for helping me understand the importance of taking time out from sightseeing to absorb a little of the ambience that is the true Paris.
This book is much more than an occasional bit of advice to the would be tourist. It is a history. It is a discussion of the art and architecture of Paris. It is a discussion of key areas within the city and of the Ile de France surrounding the city. It is also a discussion of the Parisian of today and yesterday and what makes him unique. To boot, it contains countless photographs and art reproductions going back hundreds of years. There is a wonderful discussion of the old railroad station hotels with detailed descriptions of several of them. I have a feeling that "progress" has wiped out most of them.
No book on Paris would be complete without a discussion of the Metro. PARIS gives the history of this transportation backbone of Paris from its beginnings to the present. It's nice to know that you're never more than about 5 minutes from a Metro station and never more than about 45 minutes, by Metro, from anywhere in Paris. My wife and I purchased Carte Orange's (Orange Cards - 30 day Metro Passes) for about $42.00 American each, and had our month's transportation needs provided for. The Metro and good walking shoes, that's all one needs in Paris.
I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not wanting to visit Paris. I know that if I hadn't been there I'd want to go after reading it. As it is, rereading sections of this book, in preparation for this review, has made me want to do just that. Je suis pret.