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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