‘A magnet,’ a ‘Mecca,’ an ‘incubator,’ a ‘hothouse’ for writers – all these things Paris has been called, and rightly so.’
This is the opening line of an enticing, well-researched book by Connecticut-born author David Burke entitled ‘Writers in Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light.’
Dedicated to his lovely wife, a long-time film producer and editor, whom he describes simply as ‘the marvelous Joanne,’ David’s book is perhaps the most detailed of its kind and was one of the inspirations for us at Ireland Writing Retreat to expand our initiative internationally this October to Paris.
The book’s 248 pages are choc-a-bloc with enlightening titbits about famous writers’ homes and the cafes, bars and restaurants they frequented, as well as colorful anecdotes about their lives, their loves and even some of their quirky eccentricities. It represents six long years of dedication and an immense love of literature.
Ranging from the Latin Quarter to the River and the Islands, the Right Bank, and even A Few Places Around Paris, the book, re-published by Paris Writers Press, is a veritable map of literary Paris written with verve and style.
Sitting in the couple’s charming Parisian apartment, we were impressed by their diverse decorative arts, including traditional masks, paintings and sculptures, all reflecting their worldwide travels to countries such as Guatemala, Mali, Zimbabwe and China. Not to mention shelves bursting with books, including works by David’s favorite author, Nobel Prize winning Dubliner, Samuel Beckett, who lived most of his adult life in Paris and is buried in Montparnasse cemetery.
We also learned about the Burkes’ documentary-making achievements over the years, including an in-depth analysis of the lives of African-Americans in Paris which also resulted in a book enhanced by augmented reality, When African Americans Came to Paris and another on a leading jazz artist, a film entitled ‘Mary Lou Williams: Music on My Mind.’
With Paris having such an illustrious literary history as David and Joanne - who celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary this year - keenly pointed out, we are even more confident that our adventure to this most elegant of cities, one that has seduced visitors for centuries, will be a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who join us.
And in the most romantic of seasons, too. Autumn, a time when delicate heart-shaped leaves flutter and float from the linden trees lining the paths in the Luxembourg gardens and along the Seine and mingle with the majestic river’s gently flowing current.
So, come with us to the gracious avenues and boulevards, to the rousing cafes, bars and restaurants, places where the phantoms of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens and Samuel Beckett, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe and James Joyce left their ghostly literary imprints, where their enchanting story-telling voices heard across the world still echo for all to hear.
It’s a place about which David writes, “No other city has attracted so much literary talent, launched so many illustrious careers, or produced such a wealth of enduring literature. From the medieval poet-thief Francois Villon, to his twentieth-century counterpart Jean Genet, from Rabelais to Henry Miller, from Moliere to Samuel Beckett, from Madame de la Fayette to George Sands, from Colette and Gertrude Stein to Simone de Beauvoir and Marguerite Duras, Paris has nurtured countless poets, novelists, and playwrights who were among the finest writers and most intriguing personalities of their times.’’
If you are reading this article, isn’t that enough proof it’s time for you to press the button below?