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Paris Noir: The Secret History of a City

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  108 ratings  ·  14 reviews
In 'Paris Noir', Jacques Yonnet tells us about some of the darker quarters of Paris's Left Bank, centred on the place Mauberge and the rue Mouffetard, as he experienced it.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published February 25th 2015 by Dedalus (first published January 1st 1954)
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4.04  · 
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 ·  108 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's nice to have an opportunity to craft a review of a single text, instead of the unwieldy anthologies I'm usually reading.

Here we have a remarkable book (note: despite the title, completely unrelated to the Akashic Press "City Noir" anthology series I'm reading concurrently). Originally published in France in 1954 under the titles PARIS SPELLBOUND and WITCHCRAFT STREET and available in an English translation thanks to Dedalus. This is a singular text - so odd, they had to settle on "Travel Wr
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
It is hard to fit this book into a single category; it could be either the author memoir of the years of Nazi occupation and post liberation, a collection of gothic tales or a study of Paris dark underbelly. Jacques Yonnet was born in 1915, an artist (painter and sculptor as well as writer) he was also a WWII French partisan, actively participating in the Resistance in Paris. This book was published in 1954, under the title “Enchantements sur Paris” (Paris Spellbound) and later on with the autho ...more
Eamon Loingsigh
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is full of mysticism, sexuality and resistance. I enjoyed it even as it meandered from one off-shoot story to the next background narrative. The resilience of the French after defeat from the Nazi onslaught was an artistic and wholly French affair where the ghost of Villon is conjured in order to aid the noble rebels to the slyest undermine of their occupiers.
Daniel Ausente
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sorprendente lectura sobre un París misterioso durante la ocupación alemana. Bajos fondos, malhechores y truhanes, personajes singulares y extrañas leyendas. Obra pionera de la psicogeografía mágica urbana. Una reseña más extensa aquí:
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the great books of the twentieth centaury and yet, nobody has read it!
It is a complex book and defies classification; it is a travel guide, a collection of odd short stories, crime fiction, a useful historical source and a hymn to the city of Paris.

I first read this book when I was studying the French Resistance during WWII, yet the book is far more than a historical account of a member of the Resistance. It is haunting and secretive, as if Jacques was whispering directly in you
Mason Jones
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
This is a funny review because I'll give the book 3 stars even though I didn't quite finish it. If the book were half its length I'd rate it higher. It's a fun, strange read -- a combination of wartime Paris stories, vaguely supernatural vignettes, and fun character studies of the strange folks living in the "questionable" parts of Paris during WWII. It's fun to read about the people and places, but it's a slow read and my interest waxed and waned from piece to piece. Eventually I felt as though ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beaucoup de magie, mon coup de coeur 2017 !
Cristina Rold
Questo è il classico libro che mette ti lascia con il dubbio di non aver mai guardato qualcosa davvero, di non aver mai guardato dietro la tela. Per esempio di una città, ma è solo un esempio.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
The original French title for this books, Rue des Malefices (Witchcraft Street) is far more evocative of its contents than the bland and misleading "Paris Noir" the publisher has chosen (while dealing with dark subject matter, the tone of this volume is in no way a "noir" in they way we think of crime or detective stories.) While it's presented as a memoir, I don't know how much Yonnet made up, or believed about what he wrote. Nonetheless, he crafts a compelling, episodic account of uncanny even ...more

The darker side of the Parisian Left Bank in the 1940s , with supernatural elements.

Vincent Odhiambo
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
An eclectic if not labyrinthine collection of pre-postwar Parisian life. A mind bender really, enjoyed it in bits.
Pour découvrir un Paris disparu, celui des cafés et des légendes. Chaque coin de rue est un mystère.
Rob Christopher
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Completely engrossing. It makes me want to do two things: re-read "La-Bas" and revisit Paris.
Dec 08, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, en-francais, france
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“For all that, I don’t think Gypsies ought to be likened to birds of ill-omen. They return evil for evil, and good for good. One hundredfold. Their powers seem to exceed them. I knew some in Spain who could read the stars; in Germany, who could heal burns; in the Camargue, who tended horses and could lessen the birthing pains of both women and beasts.

There are some human beings who are not bound by human laws. The sad thing is perhaps they’re not all aware of it.

Meanwhile, here’s an idea I volunteer: the day when the borders of Europe and elsewhere become, as they once were, open to the movement of nomadic tribes that some regard as ‘worrisome’, it would be interesting if researchers qualified in astronomy (yes, indeed), with calenders and terrestrial and celestial maps to hand, were to examine the routes travelled by wandering Gypsies.

Maybe they’ll discover that these slow and apparently aimless journeys are related to cosmic forces. Like wars. And migrations.

The Gypsies were persecuted, in France and elsewhere, with cyclical regularity in a vicious, inept and stupid manner. Almost as much as the Jews.”
“Silence, like madness, is only comparative.” 4 likes
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