Flaneuse – Lauren Elkin

Flaneuse was a book that I discovered on Instagram while I was searching for books about Paris. I wanted to read it immediately because the cities the author mentions are the ones I want to visit the most (except New York). I turned my reading plans upside down and was able to squeeze the book into my reading list for the month. And I’m so glad I did it. Reading Lauren Elkin is very enjoyable, Her book Flaneuse is full of great women, exciting information about literature and charming cities.


Flaneuse - Lauren Elkin

Cities and women

Flaneuse studies Elkin’s relationship with cities; Paris, New York, Tokyo, London and Venice. The author lived in these cities for different periods and different purposes. The book also tells the stories of all the delightful women who have enjoyed walking in these cities. Virginia Woolf, for instance, is one of the women who comes to mind when it comes to London. Woolf was a flaneuse, and she had a great pleasure walking in London. (I’m also a great fan of walking in London. Its streets are esthetically pleasing, the people are polite, and there is always a beautiful park nearby. What else would I want?)

In the parts where she talks about Paris, Elkin mentions a lot of great names, but she had me at Jean Rhys. I’ve read Rhys’ two books, Quartet and Wide Sargossa Sea and, loved both of them. After reading the relationship between Rhys and Paris, I plan to read her other books as well. Rhys was an amazing woman, it turns out, and, we need to read her books a lot more.

In the parts about Venice Elkin mentions Ian McEwan’s book The Comfort of Strangers. I’ve read it a long time ago and liked it lots. It was delightful to remember that shocking book again. In another chapter where she writes about Paris, she mentions George Sand. I knew almost nothing about her and, what I read is quite interesting so I’ll look into her as well.

Flaneuse is a book that made me wonder about cities and literature and shomed me the power and intelligence of women. If you have gone to any of the cities mentioned or want to go, you might like it. It offers a different perspective. Highly recommended!


About the book: Flaneuse

‘Flâneuse [flanne-euhze], noun, from the French. Feminine form of flâneur [flanne-euhr], an idler, a dawdling observer, usually found in cities. 
That is an imaginary definition.’

If the word flâneur conjures up visions of Baudelaire, boulevards and bohemia – then what exactly is a flâneuse
In this gloriously provocative and celebratory book, Lauren Elkin defines her as ‘a determined resourceful woman keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city, and the liberating possibilities of a good walk’. Part cultural meander, part memoir, Flâneuse traces the relationship between the city and creativity through a journey that begins in New York and moves us to Paris, via Venice, Tokyo and London, exploring along the way the paths taken by the flâneuses who have lived and walked in those cities.
From nineteenth-century novelist George Sand to artist Sophie Calle, from war correspondent Martha Gellhorn to film-maker Agnes Varda, Flâneuse considers what is at stake when a certain kind of light-footed woman encounters the city and changes her life, one step at a time.

About the author: Lauren Elkin

Dr. Lauren Elkin is a writer based in Paris. Her writing on books, art, culture, travel, and fashion has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Vogue, The Ft, And Frieze. She is a contributing editor at The White Review. Her book, ‘Flâneuse: Women Walk The City’ (2016) has been published internationally.

Flaneuse - Lauren Elkin

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

A Non-Fiction a Month

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