Monday, July 25, 2011

Fontaine de Leda~ Missing Paris Day

On my writer's walking tour recently, 
I came across an older woman reading in one of these chairs
at the Fontaine de Leda in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
She got up to leave just as I snapped the photo 
so instead of  'Portrait d' une Femme Lisant'
we are left with 'L'Invitation dans le Jardin'

Originally located at the corner of Vaugirard and Rue du Regard,
the fountain was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806
and moved during Louis Napoleon's reconstruction 
of the center of Paris in 1856.

This beautiful bas-relief sculpture on raised pedestal
 is of 'Leda and the Swan', 
created by a young sculptor named Achille Valois (1785-1862).
It was preserved and moved to its present location 
behind (and attached to) the Medici Fountain.

The subject of Leda,
having been seduced or raped (we'll never know which) by the Greek god Zeus,
was perpetuated by Ovid throughout the Middle Ages
and became even more popular during the Italian Renaissance.
Painted, drawn or sculpted by the likes of 
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Correggio,
their works were used 
as studies for future artist's pieces. 

Both Leonardo and Michelangelo's works of this subject 
were recorded as being in the French royal collection at Fontainebleau
but both were lost or destroyed. 
Correggio's was also damaged while in the collection
of the Regent of France, the figure of Leda said to have been 
stabbed with a knife by Louis XVI . 

A provocative subject eliciting many responses over the centuries
 including one critic's voice regarding the placement 
of the above bas-relief in the park,
"before the eyes of the public". 

Maybe that's why it sits behind the Fontaine du Medici
in a corner.

~Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen~
Info from Wikipedia

Friday, July 22, 2011

Buddhist Quote~ Two Mistakes Along the Road to Truth...

"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth,
not going all the way, and not starting."

There's an obvious theme running here in my Buddhist quotes these days,

I find that I cannot do without it in my relationships. 
Not truth as weapon but as healing, creative energy; 
to be allowed to birth one's truth,
to hear and feel the refreshing ripples in waves of honesty,
not the dead, dank air of a storage locker where tired, used old phrases 
and unspoken rules lay covered, waiting in mossy darkness. 

But a sharing as exquisitely rich and lush as the blessed song of any mountain stream 
or the tiny, flapping wings of a sun-drenched, blossoming meadow. 

Truth can be difficult, painful, heartbreaking,
but like the stretching of birth,
it can bring joy, creation, forward motion.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Last Part of American Writers Tour in Paris~

And here we are again on the last segment of our
American Writers in Paris Tour.
I had to include this door just because I loved it
(even though the shot is a bit wonky) 
and doors are my thing!

Heading south on Rue Bonaparte
at #36 is the Hotel St. Germain des Pres
where Janet Flanner (pen name 'Genet') lived for 50 years.

Writing from here, Flanner served as
 The New Yorker Magazine's Parisian correspondent, 
sending in her 'Letter from Paris' from 1925-1975. 

When in New York, she ran with the members of the 
(a varied group of New York wits who met for lunch daily
for nearly ten years at the Algonquin Hotel).
When in Paris,
she was a member of the Lost Generation
becoming good friends with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.  
Though briefly married, 
Flanner met and fell in love with Solita Solano in 1918
and while they lived together for over 50 years,
they were not monogamous. 

Henry Miller also lived in this building,
on the top floor,
in 1930.

The attendant was kind enough to let me
step inside and snap a few photos.

While I'm sure it's a shade different
from its former days,
still fun to see what it looks like now. 

Continuing along Rue Bonaparte to St. Germain-des-Pres,
a few blocks down turn right onto Rue de Seine.
On the corner, which has become, Rue du Tournon, sits #20
where Booth Tarkington lived from 1905-1908,
the Pulitzer Prize winning author of 
The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams 
and one of the very few to have won the Pulitzer for fiction more than once. 

While there is so much more to see, our tour ends here.
But I highly recommend clicking on the website here for more.

It was thoroughly enjoyable to walk it 
and delightful to share with you. 
Thanks for joining me.

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, July 11, 2011

American Writers in Paris Tour continued...

As you remember, we left off on our writer's tour last time
on a gorgeous late spring (summer-like) day.

I loved the look of this Salon de The 
along the way with its 
flower boxes and
trailing ivy. 

And this unique way of serving ice cream
to warm tourists. 

Leaving Gertrude Stein and Rue Christine
and heading west on small streets to Rue Bonaparte,
I then turned right onto L'Hotel des Beaux Arts.

Here, at 13, L'Hotel des Beaux Arts
the tour states that Thomas Wolfe lived here for a year in 1925
(though another chronology of his life would put him here at another time)

On either side of the front door are plaques,
one dedicated to Jorge Luis Borges
(according to the plaque, the Argentine writer 
who lived here during frequent visits to Paris
from 1977 to 1985). 

The other a plaque announcing that 
Oscar Wilde died in this building on
November 30, 1900. 

Sources say he died destitute in Paris
of cerebral meningitis,
the cause disputed by family and doctors. 

He was buried at Cimetiere de Bagneux but was 
moved to Pere Lachaise in 1909.

His epitaph a verse from his poem,
The Ballad of Reading Gaol:

"And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn."

We'll continue our tour next time
and until then, you can see more of it yourself

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday~ Sarah's Key

Hosted by MizB at shouldbereading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

Today's selection is Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay (p.39)~

"Last summer, or was it two summers ago, she couldn't remember, Papa had taken them to spend a couple of days in the countryside by a river. She couldn't remember the name of the river. But the water had felt so smooth and wonderful to her skin. Her father had tried to teach her to swim. After a few days, she managed an inelegant dog paddle that made everybody laugh. By the river, her brother had gone mad with joy and excitement. He was tiny then, a mere toddler. She had spent the day running after him as he slipped and shrieked along the muddy shore. And Maman and Papa had looked so peaceful, young, and in love, her mother's head against her father's shoulder. She remembered the little hotel by the water, where they had eaten simple, succulent meals beneath the cool, leafy bower, and when the patronne had asked her to help behind the counter, and there she was handing out coffee and feeling very grown up and proud, until she dropped coffee on someone's foot, but the patronne had been very nice about it." 

A  difficult to read but hard to put down, fictionalized account of one little girl's experience in Occupied France during the Velodrome d'Hiver roundup on July 16th, 1942. Thousands of Jewish families were rounded up by French police (on order of the Germans) on that summer day in 1942. They were held for several days in horrendous conditions in a stadium in the 15th arrondissement before being moved to a concentration camp in the suburbs of Paris (Drancy). Parents and children were separated before finally being moved to Auschwitz.

The street where the Velodrome used to sit is just a few blocks from us and we've walked past Rue Nelaton many times with absolutely no knowledge of what went on there. While I've not seen a plaque in the neighborhood, the author describes one found on Blvd. de Grenelle which I will now have to look for.