Harriet Beecher Stowe

Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands,


At last I have come into dreamland—into the lotus eater’s paradise, into the land where it is always afternoon. I am released from care; I am unknown, unknowing; I live in a house whose arrangements seem to me strange, old, and dreamy. In the heart of a great city I am as still as if in a convent; in the burning heats of summer our rooms are shadowy and cool as a cave. My time is all my own. I may at will lie on a sofa and dreamily watch the play of the leaves and flowers in the little garden into which my room opens; or I may go into the parlor adjoining, whence I hear the quick voices of my beautiful and vivacious young friends. You ought to see these girls. Emma might look like a Madonna, were it not for her wicked wit; and as to Anna and Lizzie, as they glance by me, now and then, I seem to think them a kind of sprite, or elf, made to inhabit shady old houses, just as twinkling harebells grow in old castles; and then the gracious mamma, who speaks French, or English, like a stream of silver—is she not, after all, the fairest of any of them? And there is Caroline, piquant, racy, full of conversation—sharp as a quartz crystal: how I like to hear her talk! These people know Paris, as we say in America, “like a book.” They have studied it aesthetically, historically, socially. They have studied French people and French literature—and studied it with enthusiasm, as people ever should, who would truly understand. They are all kindness to me. Whenever I wish to see anything, I have only to speak—or to know, I have only to ask.

Dawn Powell

Letter to a friend,


I would like Paris better if I had any deep feeling for what they like, but I really dislike the pallid, watery-eyed, churchly, old-whore sentimentality of their limpid pastoral novels—Maurois, Hemon and that school. I find Sartre’s novels cutouts from Colette, Aragon,  and every other leading novelist—and I hate the rather insanitary tidiness of the people—the newspapers folded just so, their enjoyment in all their little chores, their fixed ideas—the way the newsman is horrified that I want different papers every day, and more than one. “But Madame took Le Figaro yesterday and so she is a Figaro reader, how can she take Humanité and Paris-Presse too?” Also, I cannot get anyone to admit that Rue Jacob is a continuation of Rue de l’Université or Boulevard des Italiens is a continuation of Boulevard des Capucines. No. These streets have nothing to do with each other. No, Madame, it is not the same street under a different name, it is an entirely different street. And Fourth Avenue is not the lower end of Park Avenue. It is, on the contrary, completely different, in fact it leaves off at Thirty-fourth Street, whereas, you must admit, Park Avenue only begins at Thirty-fourth Street. Good God, Madame has put her stamps on the letter upside down. The post office will not accept. Madame must buy fresh stamps and put the blue one here, so, the red one there, so, and the other one here. This is the order in which it is done.

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