1476235139692And then, for more battery recharging, it was the rue Cherche-Midi: first Poilâne.


The toy sailing boats on the lake have been there for ninety years. There is no better way to spend an hour or two than to watch them drifting on the water. Complete heaven.

tueThe planting is a miracle of beauty: next time anyone feels low we shall simply recommend that they hop on Eurostar and spend the day in the Luxembourg Gardens. And what a wonderful thing that Persephone books can now be bought at The Red Wheelbarrow! It’s at 9 rue de Medicis, just outside the north-east corner. Of course food in restaurants is always disappointing, especially compared with the perfect food in traiteurs, boulangeries and markets – interesting that no one has picnics in the jardins (perhaps it’s literally forbidden? But how sensible).

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHOnly in Paris: a weekend there in order to re-charge our European batteries (cf. a Brexit moan on the Letter this week). The highlight was the Luxembourg Gardens, which seem to have had some kind of new look, or perhaps they were always so magnificent: the planting is merveilleux, the happy crowds on a September afternoon are a joy, and every detail is perfect, for example the famous Luxembourg chair, which is beautiful to look at, free to sit on, and there are hundreds of them.

Pawel-Pawlikowski-Cold-War-1200x520And last of the five extraordinary films: Cold War. It has been widely reviewed and is on throughout the UK. See it! Here is the trailer. Next week on the Post: the lower East Side in New York (never let is be said that the Persephone Post is narrow-minded and insular).

5647topAfriSomewhere in Africa was a 2003 German film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and several German prizes. Of course it was virtually ignored in English-speaking countries. But what a great film! Glenn Erickson wrote about it here in February this year, which prompted our re-watch (there are subtitles). Very, very highly recommended.

Les-Gardiennes-FeatureAnd a  month ago we all saw Les Gardiennes. What can one say? An extraordinary, unforgettable film: subtle, beautiful to look at, interesting, poignant – very highly recommended. It’s about women looking after a farm in France while the men are away fighting. But that doesn’t convey the half of it. Interesting fact: the lead actress Iris Bry was discovered by the casting director when he saw her coming out of a bookshop!

nn20120804a2a-870x396Then a few months later came Tokyo Story (1953). Mysteriously, we had never seen this before. It’s about an elderly couple who come from a small country town to visit their children in Tokyo; they do not treat them well. It is the most fascinating and moving and unforgettable film. Here it was voted ‘the greatest film ever made’ and maybe this is true, but what about Jules et Jim and Some Like it Hot and The Apartment and a host of others? Here is Roger Ebert writing about it..

5a60de6b55ac5647078b466a-960-495For the Persephone girls the last year has been an incredible one for films (and a dire one for the theatre, but let’s draw a veil). There have been FIVE amazing films, which we shall celebrate on the Post this week. First of all Phantom Thread. Jonathan Romney wrote about it here: ‘Phantom Thread is partly a nightmare of male tyranny, another story of what women have to put up when dealing with over-indulged male artists — though that could make it sound as cloth-eared as mother!. Instead, Anderson’s fine-tuned script perfectly captures the little spats of delicate, polite jousting, and also very credibly creates a tone of mid-’50s England. The direction, the elegant pacing, the attention to detail all bring the impression of depth, when the film might easily appear to merely be gliding on beautifully polished surfaces; it all creates a sense of prickly nuance that carries a distinct flavor of Henry James.’ And here is the trailer.


More sunbathers: July by the Sea was sold at Sotheby’s in 2003 and here is some of the extremely interesting  catalogue note (which once again demonstrates that paintings are simply novels and short stories in a different format). ‘Gunn studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1909, going on to Edinburgh College of Art and later the Académie Julian in Paris. Despite his essentially Scottish training, and strong demand in London for his services as a glamorous society portraitist, it has been Gunn’s beach scenes, the majority painted on the Continent, that are most consistently sought-after by collectors. Le Havre and Dieppe was the source of inspiration for a number of beach scenes (probably Sunbathers). It seems that the present work must have been painted either at Etretat, or alternatively somewhere along the Sussex coast. Gunn enjoyed family holidays on the English ‘Riviera’ in the 1920s with his first wife Gwendoline Hillman, whom he had married in 1919, and their three daughters, Diana, Elizabeth and Pauline, before the marriage was dissolved in 1927. However, the awnings shading the windows of the buildings lying along the promenade here are much more typically French than English, as is perhaps the fact that there are a number of well-dressed men on the beach, possibly enjoying a leisurely break from work nearby. Rather than looking out to sea, as with the majority of his other beach scenes, with July by the Sea the artist turns his gaze inland, to observe in closer detail the various visitors to the beach. One charming incident is the young girl with a large beribboned hat, who looks directly at the observer from behind the knees of the central figure, appearing to laugh at the artist as he works. Great detail of observation (a man’s small moustache; a woman’s hands busy about her sewing; the girl’s right foot slightly braced as she holds her grip on the slippery groin) is unified here under the intensity of the light from the sun, which sits directly overhead and casts minimal shadow. The light bounces off the white of the striped changing tents, shirtfronts, a newspaper idly held in the distance, and the bleached sand itself. The colour palette is schematically restricted to bright primaries, relaxing into a subtle green only to suggest the coolness of the water at the diver’s feet. The picture appears to be laid out and arranged with greater consideration than the obscuring of four of the figures supplying narrative, behind the body of the standing girl, would immediately suggest. It strikes the viewer as an instantaneous impression, a holiday ‘snapshot’. However, four parallel bands describe the background in carefully graduated intervals (the buildings, the tents, the sand, the water) while within these bands pockets of action are carefully placed so as to balance each other, the whole unified by the strong vertical of the bather in her clinging Edwardian suit. The two seated on deckchairs in the right distance balance the crowd gathered towards the lower left. The left arm of the hesitant swimmer emphasises a diagonal line running through the seated figures on the beach behind her – the same diagonal that will be echoed as she makes her jump. The dark-suited man seated in the central section of the canvas watches the swimmer and anticipates her arc towards the empty lower right quarter, thus supplying a narrative anchor. Just as he waits, we wait, and in so doing can almost feel the sun.’


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