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Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank
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Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A rare profile of the female literati in Paris at the turn of the century, this scrapbook of their work--along with Weiss's lively commentary--highlights the political, social, and artistic lives of the renowned lesbian and bisexual Modernists, including Colette, Djuana Barnes, and Sylvia Beach. 150 photos.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by HarperOne (first published October 9th 1995)
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The best volume I've found to get the feel of the importance of the women to the time. Without each other's support, both emotionally & financially, the arts really would have suffered. We wouldn't have had a Shakespeare&Co., Joyce's works may have gone begging, Stein's productivity would certainly have been diminished, even Genet may never have come into existence.
I found this a good read, peppered through with great photos, a few of which I had never seen before.
Fantastic how much you learn about the Lost Generation, especially the women from the Left Bank. Historical background, little anecdotes and the feeling of that time. These women moved in all the important circles of literature and art. It's interesting to see how they helped and encouraged each other, how they formed a community to exchange ideas, how committed they were and how they influenced the people around them. Among them Djuna Barnes, Sylvia Beach, Colette, Thelma Wood and Gertrude Stei...more
I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

An absolutely excellent book, either for those who know something about the period or nothing at all. This portrait of life amongst the female intellectuals is brilliantly researched, but equally Weiss's own interpretations and opinions are just as insightful and well presented. The illustrations are well chosen and printed making it a highly enjoyable visual experience. It is both uplifting and heartbreaking to learn about the am...more
Teresa Brown
Since I am enamored with this literary period/history and love most of the writers featured in this book I more or less used it as a kind of reference book in order to research further female authors such as Gertrude, Colette, Anais etc...also while reading Silvia Beach and the Lost Generation. Read it 20 years ago but still pick it up from time to time to remember how much I love all of these writers!
Jul 13, 2014 Wayne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Parisian Freaks
Recommended to Wayne by: the documentary film
I only realised this was "a book"
after watching the end credits on TV
of the enthralling documentary
based on "the book".

I soon had the enthralling book (in September 1998)
...not surprisingly
but little realising that I would soon be trawling
the very same streets in May 1999 to locate the addresses
of many old favourites
eg. Colette, Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas, Natalie Barney;
or some like Janet Flanner, whose articles I'd enjoyed without discovering the wonderful personality behind t...more
This was given to me for Xmas, which was very exciting, as it is out of print! I would give this Five Stars for the photographs, which are truly stellar and Three Stars for the writing, which is so plodding and boring, compared to the wildly dynamic characters the author is writing about! It's quite an academic book and while many of the facts were interesting, I was much more emotionally moved by the images and copies of letters included in this book. If you are a fan of the women of this time...more
A somewhat dry and plodding account of a fascinating moment in literary history and in the Modernist movement - a more or less chronological group portrait of the mostly expatriate, mostly queer women who lived in Paris between the wars and shaped the Modernist movement. These include Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, Colette, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Nathalie Barney and Romaine Brooks, HD and Bryher, Janet Flanner and Solita Solano, Djuna Barnes, Thelma Wood and Mina Loy. Their stories...more
Check out a full discussion of this book on the lastest episode of SummerBooks at
Mark Victor Young
Very enjoyable portraits of the extraordinary group of women artists, writers and their support group in early twentieth century Paris. Not only did the "history light" vignettes give us an idea of the women's lives and relationships, the many pictures were also a great record of the time. I was already a fan of Sylvia and Gertrude and who wouldn't fall under the hypnotic spell of the Amazon, but Janet Flanner is a new found favourite.
Fascinating stories and evocative period photos, from the community of women (French, American, and other) that blossomed in Paris for few decades around the 1920s. Gertude Stein, Janet Flanner, Sylvia Beach.... The documentary that goes with this book is out on DVD, too.
I didn't care as much for this book as I thought I would. These women led some fairly exciting and unconventional lives during the first half of the twentieth century, and I admired them for that. However, the book was a bit "listy" and did not hold my attention.
This book is great. Lots of wonderful photos of all of the interesting people who populated Paris in the 20's. There is a documentary (based on this book, not the reverse I think) that is really great. It is also called Paris Was a Woman.
Anne Marshall
A look at the women in Paris of the early 1900s, including Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Colette, painters, photographers, booksellers, poets and editors. Very interesting.
Thierry Sagnier
Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the world's greatest city. Well-written and concise.
Einmal bei Gertrude Stein auf dem Sofa sitzen und all diese Genies um einen herum... *seufz* Ein Traum!
Petra Van der Wees
Jun 16, 2008 Petra Van der Wees rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Helga
Very interesting review of the social system in the women's artists' circle in Paris around 1930.
I loved this book. Wish I had lived in Paris at the time.
Melissa Delbridge
Oh, to have been in this time and place!
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  • Women of the Left Bank
  • Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
  • Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930
  • Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
  • Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho, and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks
  • Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris
  • Bohemian Paris: Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse and the Birth of Modern Art
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • Hemingway: The Paris Years
  • Paris France
  • Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture
  • Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939
  • Memoirs of Montparnasse
  • For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus
  • Brassai: Paris By Night
Andrea Weiss is an internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker and nonfiction author. Her books include Paris Was A Woman (Harper Collins, 1995), Vampires And Violets (Penguin, 1993), and, most recently, In The Shadow Of The Magic Mountain: The Erika And Klaus Mann Story (University of Chicago Press, 2008). They have been translated into French, German, Korean, Swedish, Japanese, and Croatian....more
More about Andrea Weiss...
Vampires and Violets: Lesbians in Film In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community Hanukkah Fun: Crafts And Games New Customer Marketing: Ihre Wunsch-Kunden werden Sie lieben - 7 einfache Schritte für mehr Unternehmenserfolg

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