You did not know Janet Flanner? Quite normal, since this feminist American reporter, gay and pacifist, perfectly integrated in the post-war Parisian intellectual circles, was quickly forgotten. To set things straight, former reporter for ELLE magazine, Michèle Fitoussi, recalls in her book, Janet, the fascinating destiny of this early feminist. Here are the reasons to open this book:
For the badass side of Janet
Since her early age, Janet, an American from Indianapolis, dreams of venturing forth. After a short stay in Berlin, where she visits her sister, it’s decided: no matter what, she will go live in Paris! Once she settled down her suitcases, she meets a woman, who became the love of her life. Very quickly, she lands a job as correspondent for a brand new publications, the New Yorker, and invents a new style (long before Tom Wolfe or Truman Capote): literary journalism. A far cry from dry and factual chronicles, Janet takes the liberty of describing literary and artistic Paris with a great deal lyricism. Because Janet is an eternal free woman. Free to love other women at a time when all this is forbidden, free to ask for jobs reserved for men, free to defend the rights of women on all occasion, and finally free to report on the subjects she wishes despite the discontent of her editor-in- chief. In short, a real badass!
To check up on your history
Very close to writer Ernest Hemingway or poetess and feminist Gertrude Stein in the post-war years, Janet Flanner was a major figure on the intellectual and artistic circle of Paris at the time. While she had to insist several times in order to publish her articles, since the New Yorker refused to include politics in its pages, her acid portraits of the rising extreme figureheads in Europe, such as those of Hitler or Pétain, enable us to read up on our classics and to understand the economic and social context that led to another world war. By watching the threat come closer, Janet, as an eternal pacifist, attempted to ring the alarm through her pen —in vain...
This biography is definitely on the list of must-read works, if only to know Janet Flanner, who was unjustly replaced in the historical memory by masculine figures such as Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote or Gay Talese.This book reads like a voyage in time that reassures us on the existence of our girl power ancestors!
Janet, Michèle Fitoussi, JC Lattès, 384 pages, €20
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