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Boris Vian's Manual of Saint Germain-des-prés

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message 1: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
A little history on this title: Vian was approached by a small publisher at the time (1949) to write an insider's look at the Saint Germain des Prés scene. Right after the war, the location was a magnet for everyone was sick of old culture. Boris Vian is considered to be the Prince of the Saint-Germain des-Prés scene due to his amazing social contacts, the ability to organize events, his ability to be in two or three places at once, and also everyone liked him to the max.

When Vian finished the text, the publisher went under. It wasn't till early 1970, that this book was published. This original edition had numerous flyers from that period as well as photographs of the scene/nightclubs, and the eccentric personalites that haunt the streets and its clubs.

In 2005 I started to put a new package for English readers. Paul Knobloch did the English translation and Rizzoli published the book. Due to budget considerations I could only use one photographer from the original edition. Georges Dudognon, who was a fly in the wall during that time. Fantastic photographer!

Here's my original press release I wrote for the book:

After World War Two, the Parisian neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés became a Mecca for intellectual life and innovative social thought. This first English translation of French author Boris Vian's "Manual of St-Germain-des-Prés" is a walking tour of the Left Bank cafés, galleries, underground jazz clubs, theatres, and apartment salons that were the center of existentialist and post-surrealistic circles.

Provocateur, novelist, playwright, jazz musician and singer, Boris Vian ran with luminaries including Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, Alberto Giacometti, Juliette Greco, Raymond Queneau, Jacques Prévert, and Jean-Paul Sartre. "Manual of St-Germain-des-Prés" is a mosaic of their memories and anecdotes, as much as it is a collection of Vian's impressions. 200 sumptuous black-and-white photographs by Georges Dudognon capture the exciting and provocative spirit of post-war Paris.

"Manual of St-Germain-des-Prés" documents the first time legendary African-American jazz musicians rubbed shoulders with French writers, artists, musicians, and intellectuals who wanted to shake the conservative grip and dance. The interactions amongst a cast of characters who lived exuberantly active and diverse lives make for a captivating read, and vividly illustrate the irresistible, anything-is-possible spirit that made the Left Bank the place to be in the 1950s.


message 2: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

Tosh | 47 comments Mod
Also Vian goes on these rants about the media of the time. He loathed the journalists who wrote about the 'scene.' The text is great because he goes from being a mock scientist talking about weather conditions in Saint Germain to verbal put-downs on reporters.

The heart of the book is a section where Vian writes a brief bio on all those who participate in the club life. A small world that somehow changed my world.


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