Saturday, March 03, 2007

Parisian garrets

another curious link between Dawson & Paris: turns out Robert Service, bard of the Klondike, spent some time living in Paris, both before and after World War I (by his second stint in the city, he had married a Frenchwoman; they lived in an apartment near the Pantheon).
even during his first stay in Paris, he was a successful poet (those Klondike poems had made him so much money that he was actually fired by his bank manager in Dawson, for earning more than his boss). but he knew that angst in a Parisian garret sounded poetic: "April 1914, Montparnasse..." (he writes in Ballads of a Bohemian) "...I have stayed in my room all day, rolled in my blankets and clutching my pen with clammy fingers....For hours and hours anxiously I stared at a paper that was blank; nervously I paced up and down my garret; bitterly I flung myself on my bed. Then suddenly it all came...another of my Ballads of the Boulevards. Here it is: You've heard of Julot the apache, and Gigolette, his mome / Montmartre was their hunting-ground, but Belville was their home..."

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