From Belleville to Passy, from Montmartre to La-Butte-aux-Cailles, from Antony to Saint-Ouen – Jacques Réda is a traveler in his own city of Paris. In the tradition of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, he is a nervous, rather unleisurely flâneur, unsettling and subverting preconceived ideas about travel and home.
The Ruins of Paris echoes with the footsteps and the words of a wanderer by turns gloomy, curious, troubled, elated, angry, tender and confused (and sometimes all these things at once). We are led through the arrondissements and suburbs of Paris and beyond in a journey that moves to the rhythm of walking, of trains, to the hopeful tempo of upbeat jazz.
Réda the wanderer is forever on the move: he constantly sets off, stops, begins afresh, treasuring movement itself while journeying from place to place. Journeys that are at once exhilarating and familiar, journeys that mirror life itself and a world that ceaselessly rises anew from its own ruins. Jacques Réda's book is both a poetic meditation on Paris and a haunting companion to its views and moods.
"In France, Jacques Réda's prose writings are passed back and forth between friends with the enthusiastic secret-sharing that one associates with fan clubs. Membership requirements include a taste for precise, tenderly ironic prose, polished to a delicacy of finish rarely attained by contemporary French writers."—John Taylor, Times Literary Supplement
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Jacques Réda is the author of several collections of poetry including Récitatif (1970) and La Tourne (1975). Les Ruines de Paris was his first book of prose and is published here in English for the first time.Review:
"His book is an elliptical tribute to Paris, but something more a thank-you for being briefly an observer in an abundant world" -- Architect's Journal
"Meditative and lyrical, ironic and elegant" -- Scotland on Sunday
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