Thursday, July 15, 2010

Americans in Paris: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Paris. 20 June. My companions who have been in the belle ville before & wished it to strike me as it ought, are scarce content with my qualified admiration. Certainly the eye is satisfied on entering the city with the unquestionable tokens of a vast, rich, old capital.

We crossed the Seine by the Pont Neuf & I was glad to see my old acquaintance Henry IV very respectably mounted in bronze on his own bridge but the saucy faction of the day has thrust a tricolor flag into his bronze hand as into a doll's & in spite of the decency the stout old monarch is thus obliged to take his part in the whirligig politics of his city.

I live at pension with Professor Henri at the corner of Rue Neuve Vivienne directly over the entrance of the Passage aux Panoramas....This Passage aux Panoramas was the first Arcade built in Paris & was built by an American Mr. Thayer. There are now probably fifty of these passages in the city.

From Journal, 1833, in Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology, Adam Gopnik, editor (New York: The Library of America, 2004), p. 53, 57.


Starman said...

Is this now called Passage Vivienne ?

Shelli and Gene said...

I immediately recognized the quote since one of the things I've done to feel connected to Paris while enjoying better weather in the California summer is to pull the Gopnik book off the shelf and read it cover to cover. What a pleasure that was! I'm glad you're enjoying it too.

This piece also made me go back and find the post on my blog that included a walk through the passages.

Have a great summer.

Anne said...

Starman: There are a dozen or so covered passages in Paris. Vivienne is decidely more upscale than Panoramas but they're all worth a look.

Shelli: Thanks for the tip. will go back and re-read your post.

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