On the Métro, I look at the signs listing the correspondances that connect to other lines, other stations. Correspondances seems a good way to describe it, and to introduce my section of notes on the books I read, or films and photographs that correspond to my own writing in some way, that correlate with my interests. I am thinking about meeting points, the points of connection to other lines, other destinations.
My title, And The Street Walks In, is from a passage in Good Morning, Midnight, one that comes to mind on my visit to Paris. It is one of the most arresting moments in the book. The street walking in, a striking image. As though the street were coming to summon her back, to reclaim her.
A cheap hotel in Paris. Hotel rooms often figure in Jean Rhys books, and this particular hotel is situated in an impasse, that most evocative of French place names. They can be found everywhere in Paris, and often they are named. Threaded through the book are some possibilities that might help me to pinpoint its location, and from the map I can identify a few lines which lead to nowhere, dead ends.
Atget’s project to photograph a disappearing Paris, places him in the tradition of street photography and the flâneur, observing the city, preserving and capturing its details and subjects. His photographs capture a moment contained within the spaces of a Paris in flux. They capture the transitory, fleeting glimpses of courtyards, streets, shop windows, interiors and reflections.
As we walk, you identify one of the symbols that mark the famous passageways, the lion’s head, and opening the heavy wooden door we enter, perhaps there is a passage through. At the entrance I take a photograph…
The book captures the movement, the drift and passing of Wanda's life, directionless, without future, a wanderer. Reflected in its style, the book leaves a mystery at its heart, unanswered questions; the invisible and unaligned.
I am walking through central London thinking about clothes. The territory of the flâneuse, stopping to look at the window displays and the passers-by; catching a glimpse of reflections, the light and the shadow. Clothes in Rhys are connected to her use of literary devices such as mirrors and doubles, to her interest in subjectivity and existential uncertainty, and to status and political positioning. Encoded within Rhys's city novels are the subtle linkages of economy and sexual encounters, as well as contemporary anxiety around women in public spaces.
I wondered if it might be possible to tell a story through those songs alone, the sounds of the streets, and the popular music Rhys and her protagonists listen to. [...] a trail of itinerant city life winds its way through the books; the presence of transient figures who drift in and out of the narrative, like music from the streets drifting in through windows, troubles the already tenuous identities of Rhys protagonists and their uncertain status.
Leduc's attentiveness to her marginal subject, and the way she writes about the city reverberate with me. Like the transient figures in Jean Rhys's novels, she exists in the same fine line between inside and outside; and occupies the city as another layer of its movement. She exists side by side with the residents of the city, the passersby; and yet is so invisible. They only see her when she reaches out her hand to beg...
‘All this passport business is only because it’s wartime,’ I said. ‘They’ll stop it as soon as the war’s over.’ He smiled a little and said, ‘Perhaps, perhaps.’