Paris Nights and Other Impressions of Places and People book cover

Paris Nights and Other Impressions of Places and People

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

They began talking low among themselves, the women, and there was an outburst of laughter; pretty giggling laughter. The two who had been at the piano stood aside and whispered and laughed with a more intimate intimacy, struggling to suppress the laughter, and yet every now and then letting it escape from sheer naughtiness. They cried. It was the fou rire. Impossible to believe that a moment before they had been performing in one of Landor’s imaginary conversations, and that they were passionately serious about art and life and so on. They might have been schoolgirls. “Farceuses, toutes les deux!” said the host, coming up, delightfully indulgent, but shocked that women to whom he had just played Ygdrasil, should be able so soon to throw off the spell of it. The pretty and sprightly woman, all in white, despairing, whisked impulsively out of the room, in order to recall to herself amid darkness and cloaks and hats that she was not a giddy child, but an experienced creature of thirty if she was a day. She came back demure, her eyes liquid, brooding. ***** “By the way,” said the young dramatist to the host, “Your People’s Concert scheme--doesn’t it move?” “By the way,” said the host, suddenly excited, “Shall we hold a meeting of the committee now?” He had a project for giving performances of the finest music to the populace at a charge of five sous per head. It was the latest activity of the publicist in him. The committee appeared to consist of everybody who was standing near. He drew me into it, because, coming from London, I was of course assumed to be a complete encyclopædia of London and to be capable of furnishing detailed statistics about all twopence-halfpenny enterprises in London for placing the finest music before the people. The women, especially the late laughers, were touched by the beauty of the idea underlying the enterprise, and their eyes showed that at instants they were thinking sympathetically of the far-off “people.” The librarian remained somewhat apart, as it were with a rifle, and maintained a desolating fire of questions: “Was the scheme meant to improve the people or to divert them? Would they come? Would they like the finest music? Why five sous? Why not seven, or three? Was the enterprise to be self-supporting?” The host, with his glance fixed in appeal on me (it seemed to me that he was entreating me to accept him as a serious publicist, warning me not to be misled by appearances)--the host replied to all these questions with the sweetest, politest, wistful patience, as well as he could. Certainly the people would like the finest music! The people had a taste naturally distinguished and correct. It was we who were the degenerates. The enterprise must be and would be self-supporting. No charity! No, he had learnt the folly of charity! But naturally the artists would give their services. They would be paid in terms of pleasure. The financial difficulty was that, whereas he would not charge more than five sous a head for admission, he could not hire a hall at a rent which worked out to less than a franc a head. Such was the problem before the committee meeting! Dufayel, the great shopkeeper, had offered to assist him.... The librarian frigidly exposed the anti-social nature of Dufayel’s business methods, and the host hurriedly made him a present of Dufayel. Dufayel’s help could not be conscientiously accepted. The problem then remained!. . . London? London, so practical? As an encyclopaedia of London I was not a success. Politeness hid a general astonishment that, freshly arrived from London, I could not suggest a solution, could not say what London would do in a like quandary, nor even what London had done!
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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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