Toni Morrison's tribute to 'smart,' 'arrogant' Paris
Friday 05 November 2010
Nobel-winning US novelist Toni Morrison told Thursday of her love affair with Paris - its cafes, its feisty "arrogance" and its role in fostering a generation of post-colonial French-African thinkers.
The author of "Beloved" was awarded Thursday a city of Paris medal honouring thinkers and artists with strong ties to the capital - a day after receiving France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour.
The writer, whose poetic novels on slavery and the African-American experience earned her the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, in 1988 and 1993, told AFP afterwards of "the comfort I've always felt in this extraordinary city."
"You can see the sky for one thing - not like New York," she said.
"I like the arrogance of Paris, how it loves itself," said Morrison, who once spent a summer teaching in the French capital and came close to buying a small apartment here a decade ago.
"Paris has created for itself a haven for the fastidious and ferocious and the smart - but especially the healthy," quipped the author - who has just undergone a hip replacement operation.
"I like its contempt for the lame and the halt: stairs, stairs, thousands of stairs! No wheelchair access anywhere!"
On a more serious note, Morrison said she felt a link to Paris because of its role in hosting a generation of post-colonial black writers.
As a young woman, her introduction to non-American authors came from reading the likes of Senegal's poet-president Leopold Sedar Senghor, or Aime Cesaire, poet and pioneer of the black pride movement in Martinique.
"There was this intellectual life that Franco-African scholars were involved in - all these people, Africans who lived in France, who were born in France or went back and forth.
"That lodged in my mind. That's the intellectual welcome that I felt."
On Friday she will unveil a memorial bench marking the abolition of slavery in Paris - the first to be inaugurated outside the United States by the Toni Morrison Society.
"I really like the concept of the bench by the roadside. It's the intimacy, the unpretentiousness that I particularly enjoy."
"It's not something you gaze at. It's a place where you can actually sit down and eat lunch, and talk to somebody - or not.
"If you notice it, that's fine. If you don't that's OK too. When the ceremony is over there's just this unpretentious place where a mother can sit down with her baby."
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 New Apple TV release date and price: streaming box and games console will launch in October
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Wes Craven dead: Why Johnny Depp owes his career to director’s 13-year-old daughter
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
James Bond is a 'very lonely, sexist misogynist', says Daniel Craig
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms