Clouds over Paris

Posted on 4th August 2022 by simonbeattie

I mentioned last time my recent trip to Minnesota. I got back just in time to experience the two hottest days in UK history (phew!), before heading off to Paris for a few days. It was years since I’d been, although I felt I had been exploring the city in absentia thanks to my latest translation project, for Pushkin Press: a fascinating memoir of the city during the Occupation, written by a young German writer called Felix Hartlaub (1913–1945?).

A relief of Hercules and a centaur, up on the side of a building on the Île Saint-Louis, spotted by Hartlaub on his wanderings around Paris in 1941.
Sculpture and sphinxes at the Hôtel de Sully. Again, a location recorded by Hartlaub in his memoirs.
The alleyway up to Saint-Eustache taken by Hartlaub at the beginning of March 1941.

‘Posted to Paris in 1940 to conduct archival research, Hartlaub recorded his impressions of the unfamiliar city in notebooks that document with unparalleled immediacy the daily realities of occupation. With a painter’s eye for detail, Hartlaub writes of the bustle of civilians and soldiers in cafés, of half-seen trysts during blackout hours and the sublime light of Paris in spring.’

The translation, Hartlaub’s first appearance in English, will be published in September.

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