Paris insolite  

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"Paris Vagabond, first published in 1952, is one of the most extraordinary books ever written about that city. It follows in the lineage of great narratives by champion walkers—Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s Le Tableau de Paris (1781–1788), Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne’s Les Nuits de Paris (1788–1794), Alexandre Privat d’Anglemont’s Paris anecdote (1854), Léon-Paul Fargue’s Le Piéton de Paris (1939), among others—although its focus is more pointed and specific." ---Luc Sante[1]


"Observons toutefois une coïncidence. En 1952, Jean-Paul Clébert publie chez Denoël un curieux roman aléatoire, Paris insolite, dans lequel il narre par le menu ses dérives à travers la capitale. Le livre ressemble fort à une recension psychogéographique. Un des personnages s'inspire d'ailleurs d'un client de Moineau : Jean-Claude Guilbert. L'ouvrage recueille un franc succès, et s'attire en particulier les faveurs de la presse. Debord ou d'autres lettristes ont-ils lu Paris insolite? --Vie et mort de Guy Debord, Christophe Bourseiller, 1999


"Jean-Paul Clébert’s friends Jacques Yonnet and Robert Giraud were inspired to write their own tales of the vagabond life on the streets of Paris; Yonnet’s Rue des Maléfices (1954), his sole novel (originally Enchantements sur Paris, English translation Paris Noir), and Giraud’s Le Vin des rues (1955). The three frequented Chez Fraysse on Rue de Seine in Saint-Germain-des-Prés with Doisneau, not far from Clébert’s other haunt Chez Moineau, the dirt-cheap refuge of bohemian youths and of Guy Debord, Michele Bernstein, Gil J. Wolman, Ivan Chtcheglov and the other members of the Lettrist International, and which was the subject of Ed van der Elsken’s photo-romain Love on the Left Bank (1956). Thus did Clébert attend both the last Surrealist meeting and some of the first gatherings of the Situationists." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Paris insolite (1952) is a 'roman aléatoire' (aleatory novel) by French writer Jean-Paul Clébert (1926 - 2011). It was published in English with a foreword by Luc Sante as Paris Vagabond.

Before writing this book Clébert lived for 3 or 4 years as a clochard amongst the many homeless people in the underground world of Paris. This experience inspired his classic study of the underworld of Paris, which he dedicated to his companions Robert Giraud and photographer Robert Doisneau. The book was championed by the remaining Surrealists, and the emerging Situationists based their theory of the dérive on Clébert's principles, using his book as a literal guide to the underside of the city. An illustrated edition with 115 photos of Patrice Molinard (who debuted as a stills photographer on Georges Franju's documentary le Sang des bêtes) and layout by Massin was published in 1954. On the occasion of the book's reissue by Attila in 2009 he said:

"it was not a story in a journalistic sense, it was a personal investigation, it was me in the streets of Paris."

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Paris insolite" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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