Éric Hazan

A long day travelling to the Verbier Art Summit – made longer by the fact that my flight from City Airport was cancelled – enabled me to read quite a lot of Éric Hazan’s The Invention of Paris, an admirable and highly detailed exploration of the quartiers of Paris through the eyes, mostly, of nineteenth-century writers, including Baudelaire and Balzac. For much of his career, Hazan was a cardiovascular surgeon and his approach to the study of the city is surgical, approaching its streets with a literary stethoscope, listening to its heartbeat. He has done a more recent book, A Walk through Paris, which is full of reminiscence, but the Invention of Paris is a deeper historical analysis, which enabled me to escape Heathrow into the seventeenth-century Marais, the nineteenth-century arcades, and the destruction of Les Halles by Pompidou.

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