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Paris Was Yesterday: 1925-1939
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Paris Was Yesterday: 1925-1939

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  28 reviews
In 1925 Janet Flanner began writing a fortnightly Letter from Paris for the nascent New Yorker. Her brief: to tell New Yorkers, under her pen name of Genet, what the French thought was going on in France, not what she thought. This is a collection of those letters.
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Published December 4th 2003 by Little, Brown Young Readers (first published 1972)
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Joel Fishbane
It's tempting to want to write about Janet Flanner the way she wrote about Paris, but I hope I'm wise enough to know that I'd die from the effort. Ms. Flanner's exquisite prose was a staple of the New Yorker for almost fifty years, writing dispatches from Paris that provided a glimpse into France's artistic, social and political scene. Paris Was Yesterday is a collection of these letters spanning most of the interwar years, from 1925 - 1939, and it's a work almost without peer. As a stylist, Jan ...more
Austen to Zafón
I have so loved collections of Mollie Panter-Downes' "Letter from London" column in The New Yorker magazine, that I was inspired to read this collection. It is Janet Flanner's "Letter from Paris" columns from 1925-1939, showcasing pre-WWII literary and artistic (and occasionally political) Parisian life. I can't say that I like her style or sensibility as much as I like Panter-Downes', but it was an enjoyable read. She had a sharp wit and obviously traveled in interesting company. While I did sk ...more
Monique
Janet Flanner was an American writer and journalist who served as the Paris correspondent of The New Yorker magazine from 1925 until she retired in 1975.

Excerpts from the twenties and thirties columns she penned for the New Yorker are included in this book. She speaks of a city that was at the time a center of artistic life, of cheap haute gastronomie and of fifth floor walkups for starving artists and writers, a Paris yet untouched by modern life.

We encounter the good and the greats from all wa
...more
Elaine Young
An exceptional collection of essays on the great and the near great in France of the pre-second world war period 1925 -1939. Janet Flanner had a gimlet eye and a wit to match.I thoroughly enjoyed this book which I picked up on a second -hand table to read on holiday.I didn't expect anything from it except maybe a few hours amusement but I was enchanted by her prose and her charivari of famous personalities. I dip into it frequently to re-acquaint myself with Edith Wharton, Paul Poiret and variou ...more
Seth Lynch
From the back of the book: In 1925 Janet Flanner began dispatching her famous New Yorker ‘Letters from Paris’, from which most of the pieces in this collection are drawn. I read this book as I wanted to get some idea of what American ex-pats of the time thought of Paris. The second Salazar book features Americans in particular. There were also a lot of them in Paris: there numbers started to dwindle after the stock market crash of 1929 but many remained until the War of 1939.


This book did give m
...more
Eszter
what a joy! every time i read a line or a section that really tickled me, i would fold in the corner of the page, and by the time i was done, it looked like the top right-hand corner of the book had been lopped clean off. paying plenty of attention to the antics of both insane rich people and exciting bohemians, the tidbits included here worked together to paint a completely irresistible portrait of paris in the 20's and the 30's.

i can't help myself:

"the best of his classic aphorisms are still
...more
Eric
I'm in love with Flanner's tart scandal summaries and demimondaine obituaries:


The death in misery of La Goulue (1869-1929), one of the great demi-mondaines of the nineties, petted can-can dancer of the then devilish Moulin Rouge, model for Toulouse-Lautrec in some of his most famous cabaret canvases, and general toast of the whiskered town, afforded her a press she had not enjoyed since her palmiest days. She had charm, a dazzling complexion, and wit. It was the last great heyday for courtesans,
...more
James
Reading Janet Flanner's unique journal is addictive. The material in Paris Was Yesterday includes selections from Janet Flanner's fortnightly "Letter from Paris" in The New Yorker, which she started transmitting in 1925, signed . . . with her nom de correspondance, Genet. This is a book you must read if you have any interest in art, literature, music, French culture, European history of the late nineteen-twenties and thirties. Here is an excerpt from her notes on one of the greatest musicians of ...more
Kelly Brown
Janet Flanner, an American in interwar Paris wrote a weekly column for "The New Yorker". She brilliantly, and probably unwittingly set the tone, and the bar, for future "The New Yorker" columnists. Her tremendous vocabulary allowed her to describe even the most mundane event with sharp wit, clever phrasing, and outright honesty. There is not a dull entry in the book. You'll read about people you've never heard of and wonder why you haven't. You'll read about famous people and see them in a new l ...more
Wayne

UNFINISHED...When I bought this in the early 70's I had never heard of Janet Flanner.
It was Paris that I was mad about.
Really enjoyed the book but took the writer for granted.
Janet turned out to be a whole world in herself.
Now I'm mad about Janet!!!

In 1998 I saw advertised in the TV program on late night TV, around midnight(and this was to be a real case of the witching hour!!!) a show entitled "Paris was a Woman". Another travelogue!!! I wearily turned it on out of curiosity and stayed rivetted
...more
Joel Simon
This book is a collection of articles that appeared in the New Yorker, written by an American correspondent living in France. Although the writing is about people and events more than 30 years ago, it is very interesting and entertaining for a number of reasons. First, it gives you a real sense of what Paris was like. Second, there are many items about events and people that are recognizable (such as Josephine Baker, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Pablo Picasso, Maurice Ravel). Third, the reporting ...more
Ria
If, as I do, you enjoy reading the Arts section of the New York Times or the Culture section of the London Telegraph, you will love this cultural and literary Who's Who of the early 20th century. Drawing on the fortnightly New Yorker "Letter from Paris" which she wrote under the nom de correspondance "Genet", Janet Flanner gives us Paris in the years 1925 to 1939 - Shakespeare and Company, Le Deux Magot, Hemingway, Picasso, Monet, Colette and the Pont Neuf looking "as we had known it on the canv ...more
haley
Janet Flanner was an ex-pat living in Paris for roughly 50 years, sending in to the New Yorker her weekly column "Letter from Paris." This book is the first volume in the series of these letters, and organized under subject headings. I'm intrigued by these letters because they mention and describe things the history books usually gloss over very quickly and monotonously. She sheds light on the characters of the time, from James Joyce to Colette to Radcliffe Hall. She has a very dry, sarcastic wi ...more
Elaine
A friend lent me this book and I am finding it a wonderful antidote to Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast."
Flanner wrote the Letter from Paris for the New Yorker from 1925 - 1939 and this is a compilation of (some of) those essays. Her writing is witty, graceful, just descriptive enough to make you feel you might be in Paris...but not cloying. She gives a fascinating view of some of the personages -- Josephine Baker, Ravel, Satie, Gertrude Stein, Charles Boyer -- with some of the best stories being o
...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
More like 2.5, overall. It gave an interesting impression of France in this time period, but was probably not sufficient to do so if you haven't already read about the country's modern history. Had its 3 and 4 star moments, but not enough to raise its overall rating for me.

Parts are wince-inducing to a modern reader: there are moments of unthinkingly racist language in reference to black people (especially Josephine Baker). And it's hard to read the gushing over Chamberlain's peace in our time s
...more
Pam Mezaraups
Enjoyed the history, the characterizations (she knew everybody there was to know in Paris in those days) and the sly humor. She understood the French character and explained or exposed it to an American audience but always with a wink, an affection and an understanding. I am going to move on and read her journals from 1945 on...I love her take on the French and her take on the Gallic thought process and , of course, I want to see Charles DeGaulle in her eyes and the aftermath of a devastating wa ...more
Simon
Superb as a snapshot of Paris between the wars, albeit a select portion of the city --- mainly the literary/artistic. Flanner wrote for the New Yorker as "Genet", and her sharp insights into French culture have achieved legendary status, as the insider who was also an outsider. I'd also suggest that you read it in tandem with Darlinghissima, the story of her long love affair, and possibly Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. In many ways she is similar to Cooke's "Letters from America".
Pam Small
Although I wished I could be at her side, experiencing all she did while in 1920's Paris, I found this book to ramble alot. I kept reading more about her opinions of people, vs what her original column w/The New Yorker was mean't to do-tell us what Parisians thought about the goings on in Paris.
So, if you wish to discover this era, read A Moveable Feast by Hemmingway, or We were all so Young by Amanda Valli. Or less so, The Paris Wife.
carl  theaker



A Frommer's Guide suggested this book as reading for
a trip to Paris. I found the magazine articles in 'Yesterday'
an enchanting way to become acquainted with the city's
recent past (20-30s).

It really gives you a feel of the streets and times. One
thing they did then was have fabulous funerals. They were
always burying somebody famous.

Molly
If you love catalogues of famous people and what they wear and where they eat and their acerbic reviews of one another, this is the book for you. On the other hand, as a cultural window (albeit a trite one) into the era of American expat artists living in Paris, doing bourgeois things, and generally thinking themselves really awesome, this is, well, available.
Anne
Enjoyed reading bits and pieces of this collection of articles submitted to The New Yorker by the author between 1926-1939. After reading The Paris Wife, A Movable Feast, and other writings featuring the salon of Gertrude Stein, I was moved to learn more about the expats living in Paris during this period as well as other movers and shakers.
Julie
3 1/2 This was referenced in the bibliography of Paris Wife. Janet Flanner lived in Paris and sent back her impressions of the city and it's people to the NEW YORKER. This is a compilation of her columns. Very interesting time in that city, with many literary figures there.
Shantel Miller
This book is a fantastic window into Paris in the 1920's. If you have any interest in the rich cultural history of Paris in the 1920's. Flanner became friends with Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and many other expatriates of the time.
Alicia
Blurbs from her dispatches as an American living in Paris during the late 1920s when so many were expatriates, she catalogues the mundane, the fruity, the weird, scandalous and everything in between. Interesting but not my cup of tea.
Carol
Flanner, reporting from Paris for the New Yorker under the name Genet, was not a great writer but was a fabulous reporter. Then again, she had great material: Josephine Baker, the rise of Hitler, the death of Stravinsky.
Dvora
I've heard about Janet Flanner and her letters for years now, since I read a lot about France in the 20s and 30s. The book started out well, she writes excellently. But I was disappointed that, by the end, I found her bitchy.
Laura
I must have read Flanner either in th 1990s when I focused on reading books by women, or in 1976 -77 when I spent a year in Paris. I can't remember. Anyway, she is fantastic. Read her.
Ted Scofield
A thoroughly enjoyable read for fans of the era, and I especially found insight in the history, written contemporaneously.
Montell
Montell marked it as to-read
Jan 28, 2015
Pat
Pat marked it as to-read
Jan 28, 2015
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Janet Tyler Flanner was an American writer and journalist who served as the Paris correspondent of The New Yorker magazine from 1925 until she retired in 1975.
She wrote under the pen name "Genêt". and published a single novel, "The Cubical City", set in New York City.
More about Janet Flanner...
Paris Journal, 1944-1955 Darlinghissima: Letters To A Friend Janet Flanner's World: Uncollected Writings 1932-1975 Paris Journal, 1956-65 The Cubical City (Lost American fiction)

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“In the history of art there are periods when bread seems so beautiful that it nearly gets into museums.” 6 likes
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