Monday, April 02, 2012

The Rotonde




Modigliani, Picasso, And Andre Salmon

Picasso And His Mistress Paquerette












In March, 1922, Hemingway wrote an article for the Toronto Daily Star called "American Bohemians in Paris." It was a scathing story about "the scum of Greenwich Village, New York" settling in that section of Paris adjacent to the Cafe Rotonde at the corner of the Boulevard Montparnasse, and the Boulevard Raspail.
"New scum rose to replace the old scum," making the Rotonde the leading Latin Quarter show place for tourists in search of atmosphere. The patrons dressed in Bohemian attire. He likened it to the birdhouse at the zoo. He said that you could find anything that you were looking for at the Rotonde except a serious artist. Serious artists resent and loathe the Rotonde, he said. Serious artists were replaced by people pretending to be artists.
The scum were there because there were 12 francs to the dollar. If that changed for the worse, the scum would all return to New York.
He made fun of the young men attending to large, rich women who picked up the tab, while he too was living on an older woman's income - Hadley's.
Hemingway was new to Paris and considered himself a serious writer, one that worked at his craft. In a year or so, he too would be sitting in the cafes, dressed like the regulars at the Rotonde, nursing his drink, and conspiculously writing. The cafes were places where Hemingway could meet American friends to gossip, borrow money, and keep abreast of local news.
As a boy in Oak Park, Illinois, Hemingway wanted to be an explorer. His hero was Theodore Roosevelt and he wasn't completely comfortable with the image of a writer, so he fished, skied, hiked, sledded, boxed, went to bullfights, and bicycle races. He wanted his physical image to stand out from the rest of the literary crowd. He didn't want to look like James Joyce or Ezra Pound.
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13 comments:

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Excellent selection of photos and art! Picasso was no stranger to beautiful women, was he?

As for Hem's take on La Rotonde, it did sound as if the "artist as a young man" had a touch of the "doth protest too much" syndrome regarding the scene at the time. As another bard later wrote, "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Nikon said...

Hello CK, thanks for the comment.
Hem was young and like most young he was idealistic and passionate in his beliefs.
He thought that the crowd was made up of fakes & I'm sure that many were.
When he mellowed a bit (probably after he spent more time with the individuals), then he too became a fixture at the cafes.

Trotter said...

Hi Paul! Hope you’re having a Happy Easter! Sorry for the absence, but things are ever more difficult here...

Wonderful post!! Many oysters and steak tartare at La Rotonde... ;)

Blogtrotter Two is now somewhere in the Virgin Islands... Enjoy and have a great week ahead!!!

Nikon said...

Hello Gil, thanks for the visit!
I'm glad that you like the post.

Looking Glass said...

Love reading these posts of yours, Nikon. They take me away for a brief while...

~ Clare x

Nikon said...

Thank you for the visit & the comment, Clare!

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Thanks to this post, I was curious enough to nab a copy of A Day with Picasso, which is where some of those pics are from. Great story how author Billy Kl├╝ver pieced the day together using Cocteau's photographs.

Honest Abe said...

Hemingway's Paris must have been a marvelous place. Most of his life experiences and the places he visited or lived is probably still there.

Nikon said...

Thanks for the visit, C.K., I'll have to try & find that book!

Nikon said...

Hello Abraham, thanks for stopping by!

My Grama's Soul said...

I have a thing for Hemingway.....so glad I found you.

Jo

Nikon said...

Thank you for the visit!

Trotter said...

Hi Paul! Today is a holiday in Portugal, but it’s the worst winter day we had since last October... As grey as if we were living in Northern Europe... So, the only right thing to do is surfing the Net... ;)
Blogtrotter Two is now in St. Kitts and Nevis... Enjoy and have a great week!!!