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Paris insolite [PDF / Epub] ☄ Paris insolite By Jean-Paul Clébert – An NYRB Classics OriginalJean Paul Clébert was a boy from a respectable middle class family who ran away from school joined the French Resistance and never looked back Making his way to Paris at the An NYRB Classics originalJean Paul Clébert was a boy from a respectable middle class family who ran away from school joined the French Resistance and never looked back Making his way to Paris at the end of World War II Clébert took to living on the streets and in Paris Vagabond a so called “aleatory novel” assembled out of sketches he jotted down at the time he tells what it was like His “gallery of faces and cityscapes on the road to extinction” is an astonishing depiction of a world apart—a Paris long since vanished of the poor the criminal and the outcast—and a no less astonishing feat of literary improvisation Its long looping breathless sentences streetwise profane lyrical incantatory are an adventure in their own right Praised on publication by the great novelist and poet Blaise Cendrars and embraced by the young Situationists as a kind of manual for living off the grid Paris Vagabond—here published with the starkly striking photographs of Clébert’s friend Patrice Molinard—is a raw and celebratory evocation of the life of a city and the underside of life.

10 thoughts on “Paris insolite

  1. Tristan Tristan says:

    “Truth is stranger than fiction we say And this holds good in Paris as much as anywhere The city is obviously a realm of the offbeat What can you say about a clochard with a monocle pushing a wheelbarrow? Or a whore walking the street with a dog on a leash? Another soliciting in cock of the crock orange shorts? A bistro in Grenelle patronized by Russians and Arabs an impossible combination which the owner handles by drawing a chalk line on the floor to keep the two groups apart? A café freuented exclusively by the deaf and dumb? A barge named Gérard the Nerval? A beautiful Negress who lives in the crate return depository in Les Halles and fixes her face every hundred meters using her reflection in the gutter?”As someone who finds himself moving inexorably closer to his thirties my naturally melancholic mind lately has turned its attention – uite unbidden – to the concept of transience Not that of the corporeal variety I assure you my firm stoicism doesn’t allow me to revolt in vain against the mutability of human flesh but the one that has beset those obscurantist often lowly and seedy microcosms and humanoid ecosystems that are both spatially and temporally out of reach Time after all stands still for no man and is eually as unforgiving to the very spaces man inhabits Actually visiting them us melancholics mournfully have to admit to ourselves is a distinct impossibility Glimpses is all I or most everyone else will ever catch of them Now in this age of audiovisual recording technology available to almost everyone for democratic prices subcultures and new cultural movements are kept track of from almost the exact moment they spring into existence Colorful characters are noticed written about photographed and bustling hip venues or area's are captured on film after which everything is circulated on the Web to be perused freely whenever by whomever In stark contrast than 50 year old now dead subcultures like the one postwar Paris had are infamous for having left little behind to remind posterity of them ever having existed aside from a few faint echo’s and minute difficult to detect visual clues Written records you say? Precious little I'm afraid The penning down of extensive in depth treatises of the dark grubby underside of a city populated by its motley crew of losers rejects oddballs crooks mentally ill drunks bons vivants eccentrics mystics vagrants prostitutes is rarely at least back then ever bothered with by those historians cloistered in the groves of academe Little prestige would be bestowed on them by doing so And nor with some exceptions should they even attempt it for who else can authentically relate that life than someone who has actually lived it experienced the various hardships has gotten soused laughed and wept with his fellow compatriots of the lowest rungs of society? Jean Paul Clébert has done exactly that and the result is a marvellous feat on accord of its evocative almost stream of consciousness like richness of prose and tantalising ever surprising joy of discovery Clébert bares much while neglecting very little This is his – and that of countless others classic unvarnished tale of privation occasional pleasures titillations so so much titillation and a life navigated on the perilous fringes of society Composed as a string of short impressionistic vignettes Paris Vagabond does its utmost to explore every nook and cranny of the Paris Clébert knows and loves There is a frenetic urgency to his writing as if the locales and characters he sketches are slowly being atomised and scattered to the wind before his eyes If one is forced to determine an antagonist in this work it is Time itself Time the great ravager Yet within that very brief span of time available to him before oblivion Clébert sympathetically and frankly yet without any moral judgment immortalises his Paris and the rich assortment of people he knew Aided by the striking black white photography of Patrice Molinard this illustrated edition was published two years after its intitial publication in 1952 and is here lovingly reproduced by NYRB Paris Vagabond forms a kind of celebratory monument to a time long past and never to be regained However in the reader's mind it is recreated if imperfectly So in a sense this Paris still does exist and is preserved for posterity The wonders that are our common human creativity and imagination have seen to that and hopefully will be for a long time to come A deeply humanist historical document that is not to be missed Vive la vie bohème

  2. Tosh Tosh says:

    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 sualor 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

  3. Daniel Polansky Daniel Polansky says:

    A transient’s tour of Paris in the years shortly after WWII If the idea of this appeals to you it appealed to me double down on it Clebert was a real no shit homeless dude and his recollections of slophouses cheap bars and whores is cleverly even beautifully written and are accompanied by a series of haunting and beautiful photos I really liked it it made me miss Paris and feel nostalgic period of time long ago where I was I mean not a transient obviously but you know familiar with a lot of strange characters Not as strange as the ones documented here but still I get to be nostalgic about whatever the fuck I want to be go fuck yourself Asshole Fuck you Keep

  4. Alberto Alberto says:

    It's great jean Paul Clebert was a clochard journalist poet exploring the hidden endroits of Paris for living Searching for a piece of food a place to sleep and a love to get warm with That's the book Jack Kerouac would have been writing in the fifties if it were european and if h were travelling in Paris instead of the US This book is a rare pearl cause is a re edition of the historical legendary edition of the 52 with the photos by Patrice Molinard Stop reading Hemingway Miller and all the others this is the only non clichè book about La Vie Bohemienne in Paris

  5. Kimley Kimley says:

    Undoubtedly many of the places mentioned here are now posh high rent districts but this book makes sure the pungent sticky residue doesn't disappear completely Inhale imbibe and enjoy

  6. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    Comparable to George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and LondonThe theme may be the same but I am curious about the writing Comparing different author styles is fun

  7. Lucie Paris Lucie Paris says:

    Beautiful and touching I like reading about my city and it was a great walk into history and into french culture with someone able to make you feel the world he was seeing and living in He was right about Paris being experimented early in the morning in the bistrotscafés or just by losing yourself in the streets Still the best way to discover Paris and its diversity not always full of sparklesI was pulled into the desription and the hard and realistic way the author was sharing his testimony of an epoue as well as trying to share his views of Paris Not sure it's a book for tourists who usually prefer the glamorous and romantic view of seeing the French capital But it's wonderfully written full of poetry even when relating poverty and the ways clochards were living at this timeIt's also very contemporary If the landscape have changed because of constructions and if some uartiers have disapeared Paris is still full of awesome surprises and days still inhaled faster than a puff on a cigarette And poverty with clochards and migrants is still the same Probably even sad and dangerous nowAn awesome book written by someone who was in love with the French city as well as with the real people he had spent time with BrillantLuciehttpnewbooksonmyselvesblogspotfr

  8. Dvora Dvora says:

    Here's a Paris you've probably never seen or read about It's an interesting tour of a sort where you'll be introduced to neighborhoods you don't know or that are no longer the same as they were in the 50s and people you don't see when you go to visit the museums and the Eiffel Tower It's down to earth as are the people My only complaint is that Clebert seems not to have seen any violent people where he was hanging out He mentions at the end that they exist They exist in the Maigret books too but they are always far away and different from the vagabonds rag pickers and drifters those who Clebert writes about The violent ones are gangsters probably from Marseille And who knows? Maybe that's true And there are photos It just so happens that this evening I watched for the third or fourth time the episode of the French television Maigret series starring Bruno Cremer titled Maigret et le Clochard The victim is a tramp who camps out under one of the bridges along the Seine in Paris I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that there were many details in the scenes that brought to life what Clebert described in his book

  9. Carol Carol says:

    Prepare to have your ideas about Paris shattered Granted this was written in the 1950s when Paris was still putting itself back together after World War II Yet some of the conditions of the inner back streets and the pre Peripheriue no man's Zone were likely sualid and barbarous even before the Nazis invaded Still this clochard's eye view of the city is enlightening and funny and takes the piss out of the thousands of cliche gilded reveries that pass for writing about Paris Beggars still begged whores still whored and Les Halles still spewed guts and blood along with fresh meat and vegetables out onto the cobbled streets And between the nooks left when a wooden lean to did not uite meet a stone building and the shrubberies and barrows of scraggly parks Clebert shows how a person without a job or home could survive the streets

  10. Deborah Deborah says:

    I read about Paris Vagabond somewhere and put it on my to read list at the library When it arrived I noticed the librarian had cataloged it as fiction Instead it is the antithesis of the I went to Paris and lived happily every after books I and so many other people read It is a mostly fascinating account of the clochards prostitutes alcoholics hobos rag pickers etc who lived in the forgotten corners of Paris in the 50's and still do live in other forgotten corners of Paris and other cities now His descriptions of the maid uarters up in the rafters were especially resonant with me since I lived in one for a year in Paris After two hundred pages or so it got to be a bit too much reading his accounts made me feel slightly dirty and ill The book is much like George Orwell's Down and Out in London and Paris which describes the same ilk living about twenty years earlier I read Orwell's book while a student in France and his descriptions had a profound impact on me most likely since as a poor student I was a bit closer to that lifestyle

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