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Literary expatriates in Paris

Related: Lost Generation - USA - Les Deux Magots - Paris

English-speaking expatriates in Paris

Throughout much of the twentieth century, Paris was widely viewed as the cultural capital of the western world. As such, it exercised a magnetic attraction upon several generations of artists and intellectuals, large numbers of whom migrated to the French capital from all over the world. The number of English-speaking expatriates was especially impressive. Like the thousands of tourists who flocked to Paris, they were stirred by the city's physical beauty, its sense of history, its fine restaurants and sidewalk cafés, and its lively and sometimes even decadent nightlife. Unlike more casual visitors, however, the expatriates came to stay, at least for a time (some for only a few months, others for many years). They were commonly self-exiles, who chose to leave a homeland they considered artistically, intellectually, politically, racially, or sexually limiting or even oppressive. They were drawn to Paris by the reputed vitality of its artistic and intellectual scene, by its apparent tolerance for innovation and experimentation, by the high respect accorded the artist by Parisians of all classes, and by the accompanying level of freedom allowed the individual in his or her search for identity and artistic voice. --http://www.lib.unc.edu/rbc/french_expatriates/paris.html

English-language presses in Paris

During both periods, the literary expatriates depended very much on the presence in Paris of a substantial number of English-language presses, periodicals, and bookstores, whose fortunes and very existence were in turn tied to the ebb and flow of the writer community. The presses were generally small but included such famous names as the Contact Press (of American poet Robert McAlmon), the Three Mountains Press (of William Bird), the Hours Press (of Nancy Cunard), the Black Sun Press (of Harry and Caresse Crosby), the Obelisk Press (of Jack Kahane), and the Olympia Press (of Maurice Girodias, son of Kahane). They published most of the Paris expatriate writers, often before they were well known elsewhere (as in the cases of Ernest Hemingway's and Henry Miller's first books). Most of the early presses of the first wave disappeared with the onset and deepening of the Depression (some well before). Only the Obelisk Press survived through the 1930s, ending with the death of Kahane in 1939. In 1945 it was revived by his son, Maurice Girodias, and it evolved into the Olympia Press after 1953. The latter publishing house was highly successful in the late 1950s and early 1960s with its publications of Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Vladimir Nabokov, Jean Genet, and William Burroughs as well as an extensive line of erotica (many authored by members of the Merlin group). --http://www.lib.unc.edu/rbc/french_expatriates/paris.html

Exiled in Paris (1994) - James Campbell

Exiled in Paris (1994) - James Campbell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Exiled in Paris is a 1994 (reprinted 2001) book by James Campbell, a Scottish cultural historian specialising in studies of the Beats and post-war Paris. He is the former editor of the Edinburgh Review and writes for the Times Literary Supplement. The book itself is a study of the Left Bank cafe society in post-war Paris, particularly the influence of American expatriates, as demonstrated by its sub-heading "Richard Wright, LOLITA, Boris Vian and others on the Left Bank 1946-1960".

The time frame of the book's scope, 1946-1960, mirrors that of Richard Wright's arrival in Paris from the US until his death. This begins with the arrival of Wright at Gertrude Stein's Paris apartment, effectively handing the baton over from the pre-war artist-led bohemian Paris of Stein, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller to the more literary-focused cafe society. As the title suggests, it also covers Boris Vian and Nabokov. It ranges through the existentialism of Albert Camus, Simone De Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre, African American writers such as James Baldwin and Chester Himes, as well as Frantz Fanon and Sadegh Hedayat. The book also considers the operation run by Maurice Girodias at the Olympia Press, particularly the contribution of Alexander Trocchi to its output and the influence of Trocchi's own Merlin, which included Samuel Beckett and Jean Paul Sartre as contributors. The book ends by assessing the arrival of the Beat Hotel on the scene, which saw the familiar ensemble of Beat writers including Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs in Paris. The last vestige of this era can be found at Shakespeare and Company.

In the UK, the book was issued as Paris Interzone, a reference to William Burroughs. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exiled_in_Paris [Jul 2006]

See also: American literature - expatriate - French literature

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