Category Archives: France

Les Moments de Paris: A Community for Extra-Marital Affairs


Paris 2013, originally uploaded by loscuadernosdejulia.


It may be surprising that we start this New Year with a photo of an advert on the Parisian underground promoting “the first site for extra-marital encounters conceived by women”. After all, this has always been an almost (or entirely?) child-friendly blog. However, once in a while you do come across something that seems important enough to share. If you have a look at Gleeden.com, its current membership count amounts to nearly 2mln, including both women and men. The international outreach allows to dream up and make an encounter a reality in any part of the world, be that the remote Argentina or the nearest street. In fact, as a news report in their Blog section states, female users “have a good taste”… for cars: they prefer German makes, Mercedes class M, Audi Q7, and BMW X6.

It sounds sinister (we’re talking infidelity, after all!) until you start reading testimonials. While some admit that they are naturally curious or have not had enough fun in their younger years, others frequent the site to make gay encounters in full confidence or to inject a bit of joy into an otherwise unhappy marrried life.

Apparently, there have been attempts to break the site’s confidentiality, so there is advice on spotting an intruder. While I don’t particularly denounce the initiative (to each their own, I suppose), I wouldn’t accept it for myself.

Le Sacre Du Printemps By Igor Stravinsky Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The legend has it that Igor Stravinsky received an idea for his famous ballet in his sleep. Whether or not this is true, the potency of his imagination and the ability to bring it to the material world of music and dance has never ceased to astonish the audience. It could be a huge disappointment, like that at the ballet’s first night in Paris on May 29, 1913 – or it could be a genuine amazement that subsequently engulfed the public. So much did it amaze people that a street in Montreuil where Stravinsky lived and composed Le Sacre du Printemps was renamed after the ballet. There is no Romeo and Juliet Street anywhere, is there?

Nicholai Roerich, The Rite of Spring (Wikimedia Commons)

This was probably the peak of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes time in Paris. Despite the public reaction, Dyaghilev himself was convinced that in reality the spectators had already understood the cultural value of the ballet, and time would let them acknowledge it fully. As it happens, he was correct although the immediate impact was far from favourable, including Nizhinsky’s breakdown.

Stravinsky co-wrote the libretto with one of the most original artists of the period, Nicholai Roerich, who also created stage decorations and costumes for the ballet. Today the sketches and costumes are exhibited at theatre museums.

The ballet’s 100th anniversary is celebrated worldwide today, with the autograph of the first page of the score being shared on the Internet. An excellent article in The Guardian by George Benjamin studies the intricancies of the score and how they reflected the great age of scientific, industrial, and cultural advances, about to collapse in the fire of the World War One.

The Riotous Premiere is fully dedicated to the Parisian first night, while also allowing to explore the score in depth. However, the growing popularity and the number of renditions somewhat justify the fear of The Guardian’s author that the performance that used to be a Titanic labour even to Stravinsky is now becoming more and more accessible and routine.

Perhaps, not everything is lost for the ballet itself: Sasha Waltz, a renowned German choreographer whose exploits also rage the public from time to time staged the anniversary performance at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, on air today at TV Kultura channel in Russia. Waltz’s version is characterised by almost unstoppable movement, without well-known classical pas, and the music is punctuated by the moments of silence, as if to better expose the beauty of this fantastic score. Waltz withstood a temptation to undress her dancers; instead she covered the stage with soil, to better reflect the dynamics of the Russian pagan dances. In her own words, Waltz had to search for suitable images to reflect the impetuous music that changes its rhythm, colour, and quality all the time. “For me this was a challenge“, she explained.

The orchestra at tonight’s Russian premiere is led by Valery Gergiev.

Igor Stravinsky, An Autograph of the First Page of the Score
to The Rite of Spring (courtesy of the Paul Sacher Stiftung
via Igor Stravinsky Facebook Page)

 

 

Les Notes Parisiennes

Et bon, mes chers lecteurs, enfin j’ai visite Paris. Pardonnez-moi l’absence des articles, mais il n’y a pas de langue francaise a mon telephone.

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while will know that this was a very long-lasting dream that has finally come true. According to the French themselves, I speak their language very well, although this was the first time I really had to converse with native speakers. I managed to keep my writing skills up, while living in the UK, but I was quite fearful for the spoken language. Thankfully, there is nothing to fear about any longer.

I’ve only had two days, so I somehow chose to visit the Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, the Pere Lachese cemetery, and the Louvre. Maybe I should have made a different choice, but the positive impressions abound anyway. In addition to visiting these great sites, I ate at various lovely places where there was always good food and good service, both at good value. The majority thought I was English, if I had to “switch” the language to better express myself. I took buses and metro, I climbed 300 stairs up the Sacre Coeur to see the unforgettable Parisian panorama in broad daylight. Naturally, I chose to use the ascenseur (elevator) to visit la Tour Eiffel, for otherwise I’d overdo climbing for the day. I was still rewarded with spectacular views of Paris by night and a short illumination.

The French were generally very helpful – perhaps because they sensed the chance to practise their English. As soon as I arrived and was trying to figure out where to go, a map in my hand, a lovely French lady came up and offered me help. I always do this kind of thing in Moscow, so it looks like this was the instance of “the good you do comes back to you“.

And then there were two funny situations, both at the Eiffel Tower. First, I saw two security guards studying a small bottle of champagne they confiscated from someone. The conversation went thus:

I: “Are you going to give it back, if they ask?”
Guard: “Me? This is going to cost!” – and he made a gesture with his fingers, hinting at the money they’d have to pay to get the bottle back.

Obviously, this was a joke.

A better one followed during my own security check before going for the elevator. Our conversation:

Guard: Knives? Pistols?
I: Of course, not!
Guard: A bomb?
I: Well, I haven’t thought about it.

At one of the bistros where I stopped we had a pleasant conversation with a gentleman from Biarritz. Eventually, we arrived to a conclusion that Biarritz was even more expensive than Nice because of its exclusivity. In return, I explained the meaning of the word “issue”, and how it can be used in English language.

Prior to going to Paris I read Villa “Amalia” by Pascal Quignard. It was a Russian translation, a moving story of a woman-artist. I remember trying to read Dance, Dance, Dance by Mourakami in English years ago, and I couldn’t even wade through it because it felt like I was “reading” a film by some Asian director, Wong Kar-wai or something. As much as I love Kar-wai’s films, “reading” it in another author’s novel was too much. I didn’t get past a few opening chapters.

With Villa “Amalia” there was also a feeling that it was a very cinematographic novel, I could easily see it being adapted to the screen, and the little parts, into which the bigger chapters are broken, may in fact be separate scenes in a feature. Thanks to this, the novel is every bit a French film at its best: rich yet succinct, and always with a good “afterthought”, as in “aftertaste”. Isabelle Huppert could certainly play Anna Hidden. I guess this plainly shows me as a huge French cinema fan.

In the story, as well, “Hidden” is a pseudonym. The protagonist is half-Jewish, she took the pseudo after a suggestion from her lover, but her father has spent a lifetime escaping various things, family included. Anna herself “hides” from relationships and, at some point, from people, while retaining her privacy. And as she is not widely known by face, she remains “hidden”. Apart from everything else in the novel, this is a beautiful play on words from another language, to portray a character.

And on the way back from Paris I was again reading Les Champs Magnetiques by A. Breton and Ph. Soupault.

Donc, a bientot!

An Interview With the Secretary of Salvador Dali, Enrique Sabater

Until May 10, 2012 an exhibition of rarely seen artwork of Salvador Dali was exhibited in Paris. All objects on display belonged to one-time secretary of the great artist, Enrique Sabater. The video from PressTVGlobalNews is a fair introduction to the kind of artwork that went on display. And below is my translation (from French) of an interview with Mr Sabater, conducted by Nathalie d’Allincourt for L’Objet d’Art edition (April 2012).

 

In the privacy of Salvador Dali 

Nathalie d’Allincourt

A personal secterary to Salvador Dali, the Catalan Enrique Sabater lived for over ten years next to the master and his muse, Gala. After the Musee de Cadaques l’Espace Dali exhibited an anthology of 120 works that the master had given him and often dedicated: drawings, watercolours, photographs, objects…

The photos that underpin the exhibition were made throughout the years passed close to Dali. Were they intended to be art or merely a matter-of-fact? 
I adore photography that I have practised since childhood. Near Mr Dali there was no restriction, I could photograph at any moment. In 2004 I presented the scores of my photographs at the exhibition in Barcelona marking Dali’s centenary. Almost always these photos show the artist in an intimate atmosphere.

People are aware of the theatrical aspect of Dali’s personality. Was he really different in private life? 
He had two personas. When we were all three together with Gala (we had a breakfast together every morning), it was one person, absolutely normal. He was very intelligent, passionate about science and had many scientists as his friends. But when he appeared in public, he acted in a very theatrical manner, to the point of changing his voice.

How did you live all those years next to Dali? 
Every year we spent summer in Catalonia, at the house of Portlligat. Mr Dali worked in the morning and in the afternoon, after a short siesta. After 6pm he often received visits from young artists who came to show him their work. After that there were 15 days in Paris, at the hotel Meurice, then in New York where we stayed for 4 or 5 months at the hotel Saint Regis. In New York every Sunday Andy Warhol came to have a dinner with three of us. We always stayed at the same hotels, in the same rooms. Twice a year we spent a few years at the Ritz in Barcelona for familial reasons. Likewise, we visited Madrid and stayed at the Palace Hotel, to see the Prince Juan Carlos, the future king.

Did Dali visit other museums or artists of his generation? 
The master knew all the museums and collections, but he did not feel the necessity to put himself vis-a-vis the work of other artists. The only museum that we did visit was the Centre Pompidou because we collaborated with them a lot. Since our stays in Paris were short, we particularly loved visiting certain streets, like Rue Jacob. Throughout his life Dali upheld the connection with Picasso. It is often considered that the two had been enemies for political reasons: Picasso was a Communist, of course, but Dali was not at all a Fascist! They maintained the distance without ever breaking the connection: the word was sent by trumpet. Each one in their own way was acutely aware of what they had to say to another, and so they did. In April 1973 Dali was immediately informed about Picasso’s death, and we left for Mougins. Picasso treasured his trumpets, which his son Claude inherited from him.

You hold the academic sword of Dali in your possession…
Yes, he gave it to me the next day after receiving it, and this is the first time I am showing it to the public. On the sword a polished space was prepared for a gravure, a dedication created by Dali for the paper letters of Gala. The object was not leave Paris without being engraved! I am also showing a preparatory drawing.

You met Dali in 1968 during an interview and you never left until 1981. What was it that made you leave him? 
In 1972, Dali and Gala charged me with commecialisation of the master’s work. But in 1981 Gala went mad. Dali, ennerved, could no longer make enough to satisfy the enormous want of money this woman had had. Behind my back Gala began to deal with real gangsters, and the market got flooded with forged lihographs. I ended up infoming the Spanish government. A New-Yorkean solicitor of Dali came to try and explain to Gala that she needed to stop. I left, despite the master’s insisting on me staying.

Are you going to write the memoirs of this exciting time?
They have already been written, it only remains to publish them…

Translated from French by Julia Shuvalova

Autumn Signs (Guillaume Apollinaire)

Autumn in Lake District
Autumn in Lake District, Cumbria

I am bound to the King of the Sign of Autumn
Parting I love the fruits I detest the flowers
I regret every one of the kisses that I’ve given
Such a bitter walnut tells his grief to the showers
My Autumn eternal O my spiritual season
The hands of lost lovers juggle with your sun
A spouse follows me it’s my fatal shadow
The doves take flight this evening their last one.

Je suis soumis au Chef du Signe de l’Automne
Partant j’aime les fruits je déteste les fleurs
Je regrette chacun des baisers que je donne
Tel un noyer gaulé dit au vent ses douleurs
Mon Automne éternelle ô ma saison mentale
Les mains des amantes d’antan jonchent ton sol
Une épouse me suit c’est mon ombre fatale
Les colombes ce soir prennent leur dernier vol.

Guillaume Apollinaire, Alcools.

Guillaume Apollinaire – Toujours/Forever

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Guillaume Apollinaire

Toujours

À Madame Faure-Favier

Toujours
Nous irons plus loin sans avancer jamais

Et de planète en planète
De nébuleuse en nébuleuse
Le don Juan des mille et trois comètes
Même sans bouger de la terre
Cherche les forces neuves
Et prend au sérieux les fantômes

Et tant d’univers s’oublient
Quels sont les grands oublieurs
Qui donc saura nous faire oublier telle ou telle partie du monde
Où est le Christophe Colomb à qui l’on devra l’oubli d’un continent

Perdre
Mais perdre vraiment
Pour laisser place à la trouvaille
Perdre
La vie pour trouver la Victoire

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 – 1918)

Forever

for Mm Faure-Faviere

Forever

We shall be going farther

And never advance anywhere

And moving between the planets
And constellations
The Don Juan of a thousand-and-three comets
Without ever leaving the Earth
Seeks the new powers
And seriously takes the phantoms

So many worlds lose themselves in oblivion
So oblivious they are
Who then will make us forget this or that part of the world
Where is Columbus who will lose a continent of our memory in oblivion

We need to lose
To really lose
So as to leave the room for a rediscovery
We need to lose
Life to find the Victory

Julia Shuvalova © 2011

Всегда

мадам Фор-Фавье

Всегда
Мы будем все дальше идти,
Не продвигаясь вперед никогда.

И от планеты к планете,
И от созвездий к созвездиям,
Даже не покидая земли,
Дон Жуан двух тысяч комет
Ищет новые скрытые силы
И мираж всерьез принимает.

Сколько Вселенных себя навсегда забывает!
О как велика их забывчивость!
Кто же самих нас заставит забыть
Ту или эту часть света?
Где тот Колумб,
Что сумеет в памяти нашей
Закрыть континент.

Потерять,
Но потерять до конца,
Чтобы оставить открытию место.
Жизнь потерять,
Чтоб Победу найти.

© М. Kudinov.

Aberdinho Strikes for Scotland: PHD North Wins Gold at the Cannes Lions

Given the budget for their IRN-BRU campaign – mere 150K GBP – PHD North has chosen the simplest solution to the Scottish footie problem. They didn’t show any hard work. In fact, everything seems to be a result of the most pleasurable activity. What happens when a Brazilian man comes to Scotland? He finds a local girl (or the other way around). They get together and nine months later a future legend is born. Crawford Batista, say. Or Robertsinho. Or even Aberdinho. Genius? Yes, so they thought at Cannes, too. PHD North, together with The Leith Agency, Burt Greener and Blonde, won Gold (How-Do reports).

And so I think, by the way. In fact, I think the Russian oligarchs who invest in football should bring those hot Brazilians to Russia. Let our gorgeous Russian girls warm those poor fellas in the winter. Or it may be Brazilian girls who come to raise the fighting spirit of Russian footballers. And then our team will have players under the names of Arshavinho and Bilayletdindo. Why not? It’s IRN-BRU. Phenomenal.

 

The Literary Laboratory of Honore Balzac Is Found in France

After Leonardo’s portrait discovered in 2009, and the imminent conclusion about what may be the remains of Mona Lisa, this is probably the next most important artistic discovery of the last few years. In France, a dedicated bibliophile Gérard Lhéritier, collector and founder of the Musée des lettres et manuscrits, has found the inedited manuscript, entitled Pensées, Sujets, Fragments, in the collection of Jacques Crépet, the most recent student of Balzac’s work. The manuscript contains notes, sketches, and phrases that had later found their way into the opus magnus of the celebrated French author – The Human Comedy by Honoré de Balzac. Mohammed Aissaoui reports.

I read Balzac’s biography by André Maurois, while still at school. Maurois, himself a great writer, has composed a powerful portrait of one of the greatest men-of-letters. His Balzac was a humorous chap, who dedicated himself entirely to his trade, spending days and nights in the attic, drinking extra-strong coffee to keep himself from sleeping, consumed by producing the most ambitious work literature has seen since the days of Dante, perhaps: a 140-pieces cycle of novels and novellas, under the common title La Comédie humaine. Out of those planned, Balzac managed to complete 90 different pieces in his lifetime, if my memory doesn’t fail me.

Maurois mentions the notepad with all the sketches, notes, and plans. Now we can see that it does contain a lot of information, written in the most tiny handwriting, to save the paper. 56 pages are covered with black, violet, and sepia ink. For instance, here is the plan for Father Goriot: “A brave man – boarding house – 600 francs of rent – gave everything to his daughters who both have 50,000 francs of pension – is dying like a dog”.  And this phrase eventually found its way into The Shagreen Skin (The Magic Skin): “Sometimes a crime may be a whole romance” (“Un grand crime, c’est quelquefois un poème“).

Apart from the literary notes, the notepad contains house plans, the list of names, checklists, and even sketches. Without a doubt, we now have one of the valuable insights into the artist’s “kitchen”, or “study”. It should be an inspiration to many of us.