Sunday, January 3, 2021

Time Travelling

If you could set a book you haven’t written yet anywhere in the world, at any time in history, among societies other than your own, where would you choose and why?

Happy New Year! Brenda Chapman here with the first blogpost of 2021. Let's hope this year is better than last, and the pandemic draws to an end. We're currently in lockdown in Ottawa but this feels like a better place with the vaccines being rolled out and hopes high for life to return closer to normal soon.

This month's question is a thought-provoker. It's also nice to dream outside our reality for a bit!

I studied history in university (my minor) and could see delving into another era as the setting for a book. I enjoy stories set in Britain during the Victorian and Romantic periods. I also find the Renaissance in Italy a fascinating period. The time when the Medicis ruled Florence. Art, science and culture flourished with people such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo creating their masterpieces.

However, if choosing one era in which to set a book, I'd choose the Roaring Twenties in Paris as the backdrop for a story. Those were the days of the Lost Generation (a phrase Gertrude Stein coined for the American expat artists living in Paris) when Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein frequented the cafes and jazz clubs .

This was the period of affluence between World War I and the 1929 stock market crash, and Paris was the centre for writers and artists, including Picasso, Matisse, and Salvador Dali. Hemingway later famously wrote: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast." Fitzgerald wrote: "The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American."  

This was a vibrant period filled with booze (a great deal of booze), parties, cabarets, dance halls and flappers. Called The Roaring Twenties in the U.S., in France these years became known as Les Années Folles (the crazy years). People were ready to party and optimism was high.

Oddly enough, this week a medical guest on CNN said that he believes in a year or so once the pandemic is under control, well see another period mirroring the Roaring Twenties with people spending some of the money they've saved up, partying and congregating in bars and sports venues. We might actually live through our own crazy years :-)

My husband and I had planned a visit to France last September that included several days in Paris. I'd like to visit some of the cafes and bars where Hemingway and the others gathered if we're able to go this fall. Who knows, maybe a story will come out of this trip down memory lane sometime in the future.

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Dietrich Kalteis said...

I hope you see Paris this coming fall, Brenda, and that a book comes from your experiences. All the best for this coming year.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich and all the best for you too in the year ahead.

Susan C Shea said...

Next to having lived there and then, writing a protagonist who did is the next best thing. Love your response, Brenda!

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Susan and Happy New Year!

James W. Ziskin said...

Great post, Brenda. Vivent les années folles!