8/13/2018-Last night I began reading David McCullough's The Greater Journey-Americans in Paris, for the second time. So much of what I read brought tears to my eyes, but most strangely...it was if I had never read what I was reading before.
I knew I had. I have the hard copy on Columbus Street.
Then it hit me, this was one of the first books I read after Dali, Sam and I returned to the states and were living in the basement at 411 in Ferguson. Reading was my therapy then. It helped to carry me through very difficult times, BUT...I was not present. Reading now, six very full years later...it is touching me in a whole new fresh way. So today, I thought I'd dip into the archives and share a post with you from the "basement days!"
12/16/2012...and a sweet Sammie cat who loves my new, soft, Santa nightshirt as much as I do. There's been lots of reading going on in the basement.
Too much music, tv, chatter and conflict are not to my liking, so after the evening news I retreat to the basement and snuggle into bed with a good book.
Funny, I've learned a lot about life in France and Paris during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI by reading "Beaumarchais" by Maurice Lever (a treasure discovered in hard back at the Dollar Tree for yes...just a dollar) and about Americans in Paris during the early 1800's by reading David McCullough's "The Greater Journey-Americans in Paris".
Neither were easy starts, but once in the flow, I learned more about France, Paris, French/American relations, and notable Americans than I had ever really paid attention to before. The biggies for me were: discovering just how much Beaumarchais worked with Louis XVI to aid us in our fight for independence-and really-for anything he believed in strongly; the flow of American notables back and forth between the USA and Paris throughout the 1800s; learning so much more about our Ambassadors to France, particularly Minister Elihu B. Washburne; discovering portrait artist George P. A. Healy and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the first time; and falling in love with John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt all over again, but for different reasons.
These reads have lent new perspectives to my Paris and France experiences as an "American". I was not the first. I will not be the last. Even from a very different time I felt an odd comerarderie in knowing that I have shared many of their trials and tribulations, but above all...the wonder and magic of taking a chance on the world and finding MORE.
I dog-eared many pages, enjoying many quotes and stories. We have these records because of the letters and journals that they have left behind. I leave you with a quote from McCullough's book:
"I was not yet twenty. I was quite alone. I did not speak a word of French...but I was in Paris and the world was before me."
-Will Low, Art Student of Carolus-Duran
Mon Dieu! If I start discussing/reviewing books again I may have to come up with a new title from Books on the Beam...Books in the Basement could work for now, but I'm going to have to work on a title for New Orleans. Happy Sunday to All!