Top critical review
on 18 November 2015
Aux terraces, citoyens!
This is Paris vu de l'extérieur, above all its cafés and those who haunt them. Famous names (Atget, Brassai, Capa, Cartier Bresson, Doisneau, Kertesz, Lartigue) mingle with lesser mortals on the streets of this 'flower of cities all' (a quote actually penned by a Scot about London). The prefatory essay* is exhaustive and (at least in French) exhausting. As for the cheesy title, do not France and cheese go together like..? Even Hitler wanted Paris left alone. Forget I 'heart' NY: even New Yorkers genuflect. So whence my reservations? Well, this book is not best served by its scatter-gun approach, if I may use that language after Friday 13 November. Helmut Newton is out of place to say the least (porn masquerading as fashion) and the final 'insurrectionary' section (another great translation, from French 'barricades'), basically politics from the Commune to the 'événements', is a bit of a downer. This is a love story,after all. Vive Paris
* exquisitely Englished. Affairistes become profiteers, lénifiant:stereotyped, chantre: leading light. Spectacularly, ten words in the French are reduced to 'highly expressive individual cityscapes', whereas 'mettre en sommeil' becomes 'put an end to, at least for the time being', while 'un lourd matériel à l'ancienne', rather than mere 'equipment', is spelt out as 'tripod and plate camera of the old heavy type', while 'mediated by' expands and illumines the sense of plain 'à travers de'. Such concentrated dual thinking, such devotion to craft, readership and, above all things, clarity is rare indeed - Chris Miller has done us, and himself, proud