Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Americans in Paris: Edith Wharton

On the 30th of July, 1914...it was sunset when we reached the gates of Paris. Under the heights of St. Cloud and Suresnes the reaches of the Seine trembled with the blue-pink lustre of an early Monet. The Blois lay about us in the stillness of a holiday evening and the lawns of Bagatelle were as fresh as June. Below the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees sloped downward in a sun-powdered haze to the mist of the fountains and the ethereal obelisk; and the currents of summer life ebbed and flowed with a normal beat under the trees of the radiating avenues. The great city, so made for peace and art and all humanest graces, seemed to lie by her river-side like a princess guarded by the watchful giant of the Eiffel Tower.

The next day the air was thundery with rumours. Nobody believed them, everyone repeated them. War? Of course, there couldn't be war!...

At the dressmaker's, the next morning, the tired fitters were preparing to leave for their usual holiday. They looked pale and anxious--decidely, there was a new weight of apprehension in the air. And in the rue Royale, at the corner of Place de la Concorde, a few people had stopped to look at a little strip of white paper against the wall of the Ministere de la Marine. "General mobilization," they read--and an armed nation knows what that means.




From The Look of Paris in Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology, Adam Gopnik, editor (New York: The Library of America, 2004), p.211-213.

3 comments:

Sweet Freak said...

Sigh. I love Edith Wharton! In New York, or Paris!

Ferry Freight said...

I enjoy reading ur blog, I know a bit more about Paris, while Im planing travel to there :) ... Good job!

parisinspired said...

Nice photo of the "Mobilisation Generale". And a fitting post as it's nearly July 30! Thanks for posting...

Paris Paul

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