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Enoch Arnold Bennett (27 May 1867 - 27 March 1931) was an English writer. He is best known as a novelist, but he also worked in other fields such as the theatre, journalism, propaganda and films. Bennett was born in a modest house in Hanley in the Potteries district of Staffordshire. Hanley was one of the Six Towns that were joined together at the beginning of the 20th century as Stoke-on-Trent and are depicted as "the Five Towns" in some of Bennett's novels. Enoch Bennett, his father, qualified as a solicitor in 1876, and the family moved to a larger house between Hanley and Burslem.

Genre: Novel
Year:
1913
38,996 Views

I--ARTISTIC EVENING

The first invitation I ever received into a purely Parisian interior might have been copied out of a novel by Paul Bourget. Its lure was thus phrased: “_Un peu de musique et d’agréables femmes_.” It answered to my inward vision of Paris. My experiences in London, which fifteen years earlier I had entered with my mouth open as I might have entered some city of Oriental romance, had, of course, done little to destroy my illusions about Paris, for the ingenuousness of the artist is happily indestructible. Hence, my inward vision of Paris was romantic, based on the belief that Paris was essentially “different.” Nothing more banal in London than a “little music,” or even “some agreeable women”! But what a difference between a little music and _un peu de musique!_ What an exciting difference between agreeable women and _agréables femmes!_ After all, this difference remains nearly intact to this day. Nobody who has not lived intimately in and with Paris can appreciate the unique savour of that word _femmes_. “Women” is a fine word, a word which, breathed in a certain tone, will make all men--even bishops, misogynists, and political propagandists--fall to dreaming! But _femmes_ is yet more potent. There cling to it the associations of a thousand years of dalliance in a land where dalliance is passionately understood.

The usual Paris flat, high up, like the top drawer of a chest of drawers! No passages, but multitudinous doors. In order to arrive at any given room it is necessary to pass through all the others. I passed through the dining-room, where a servant with a marked geometrical gift had arranged a number of very small plates round the rim of a vast circular table. In the drawing-room my host was seated at a grand piano with a couple of candles in front of him and a couple of women behind him. See the light glinting on bits of the ebon piano, and on his face, and on their chins and jewels, and on the corner of a distant picture frame; and all the rest of the room obscure! He wore a jacket, negligently; the interest of his attire was dramatically centred in his large, limp necktie; necktie such as none hut a hero could unfurl in London. A man with a very intelligent face, eager, melancholy (with a sadness acquired in the Divorce Court), wistful, appealing. An idealist! He called himself a publicist. One of the women, a musical composer, had a black skirt and a white blouse; she was ugly but provocative. The other, all in white, was pretty and sprightly, but her charm lacked the perverseness which is expected and usually found in Paris; she painted, she versified, she recited. With the eye of a man who had sat for years in the editorial chair of a ladies’ paper, I looked instinctively at the hang of the skirts. It was not good. Those vague frocks were such as had previously been something else, and would soon he transformed by discreet modifications into something still else. Candlelight was best for them. But what grace of demeanour, what naturalness, what candid ease and appositeness of greeting, what absence of self-consciousness! Paris is the self-unconscious.
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Arnold Bennett

Enoch Arnold Bennett (27 May 1867 – 27 March 1931) was an English writer. He is best known as a novelist, but he also worked in other fields such as the theatre, journalism, propaganda and films. more…

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