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Les cafés littéraires

Gérard-Georges Lemaire

Coffee is picked, roasted, ground and drunk. But it is not only a beverage for consumption. The temples that were created around its use and which took on its name - our cafés – played an important role in the cultural and political avant-gardes for the last three centuries. From the Bosporus to London (sadly not including Slovenia where this book was printed!), from the Capsa in Bucharest so dear to Morand to the Café Américain where the soul of Joseph Roth still roams in Amsterdam: some one hundred cafés are presented here. Of course there is Montparnasse, with the Dôme, the Coupole and so many temples, where Pascin and Kertész met, as well as Montmartre and the Rat mort Toulouse-Lautrec preferred. There are descriptions of wanderings in which we see such permanent fixtures as Umberto Saba, Tristan Tzara, Karel Capek, Pessoa or Lampedusa who wrote Il Gattopardo, his Leopard. It is the essence of Europe with its loyal customers for coffee and Viennese chocolate right in front of our eyes. The rich iconography reminds the reader that modern painting goes hand in hand with coffee - Boldini and Juan Gris are proof enough. In a continent that seems to question its opening towards the world, we can only hope these venues of socializing and creation will live on, in spite of the threat hanging over them due to concerns such as profitability and the invasion of tasteless chains.

Les cafés littéraires, by Gérard-Georges Lemaire, La Différence, 2016, 640 p., €45.

Les cafés littéraires - Gérard-Georges Lemaire

Review published in the newsletter #459 - from 9 February 2017 to 15 February 2017

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