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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stuart Davis, The Paris Bit

Stuart Davis, The Paris Bit

(Click here for the Romanian Version)
By ten in the evening the whole corner would take on the fullness of its own life with the terraces crowded and the well-known drunken poets or painters... wandering across the road from café to café.
(Morley Callaghan, That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Some Others)

Some time in the 1920's Callaghan lived briefly in Paris, and he was part of the group that later would become known as The Lost Generation, term coined by Gertrude Stein, only by that time they were just a gang of young friends sharing enthusiasms and dreams in Montparnasse. That Summer in Paris is about them, about Hemingway, about Scott Fitzgerald, about Joyce - and about a boxing match! Yeah, Hemingway challenged Callaghan, who was a better boxer, so he knocked his friend to the ground. Scott Fitzgerald was keeping the time.

The 1920's in Paris, an epoch chronicled by the photos of Brassaï, of Kertesz, of Man Ray - you feel the spirit of those years in the paintings of Stuart Davis, Picasso, Van Dongen, or Mondrian. They still live, those years, in so many pages of Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and Callaghan, and Cowley...

Hemingway and the others, The Lost Generation and The Mad Years, Les Années Folles.

A movie, Les Années Folles, was telling the story of the twenties in Paris. The film director was Mirea Alexandresco. His parents were Romanians and they lived many years in Paris where Mirea was born. They came back to Romania, but Mirea remained in France. My parents were good friends with them and I remember how Mrs. Alexandrescu was telling us about the plans of her son to make the film. So I knew the movie before seeing it. Les Années Folles was produced in 1960, I saw it several years later, at the Romanian TV. Serge Reggiani was the narrator, and the history of the Parisian twenties remained for me associated with his baritone.

Much later Mirea Alexandresco came briefly to Bucharest, and he visited our family one evening. He came with his wife and his daughter and we spent a fine evening together. He was speaking Romanian quite well, with French accent, of course. A very nice man. He died prematurely, and Les Années Folles remained his only movie.

(The Fitzgeralds)



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