It’s wintertime, what better season to stay in and cuddle a book? If you are a nerd like me, I’d say, every season. But, honestly, I do more reading in the winter.
Here is a list of books I recommend, they are of and by women who embraced freedom with their radical sense of aesthetics. It includes a newly published Flâneuse: Women Walking the City in Paris, New York, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin; Stories and Essays of Mina Loy edited by Sara Crangle; and A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York by Anjelica Huston.
Flâneuse starts with a visual analysis of a black and white photograph taken by Marianne Breslauer in 1937 called Défense d’afficher. Lauren Elkin uses the subject of this photograph, a woman standing on a street lighting a cigarette to set the tone for her book. It traces the etymology of the word “flâneur,” that only exists in the masculine form. This term is historically used to describe men of leisure who strolled around the city at his will, when at a time (19th century) respectable women were not allowed to be outside without a male companion. Therefore, she proposes the feminine form- “Flâneuse,” to counter the point that exploring the city on foot was an activity reserved for men.
Her elegant writing maps the history of famous women, such as Virginia Woolf, Marianne Breslauer, George Sand and Jean Rhys who dared to wear suits like men and asserted the freedom of exploring the city streets on foot. Later, she injects her own experience as a “flâneuse” in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London. The book focuses on psycho-geography and takes the plesaure of “urban street wondering” away from the male-dominated group- “Situationists international.”
Mina loy (1882-1966) was no doubt one of the most prolific artists and writers of her time. But, unfortunately, her works have been mostly overlooked for decades. In Stories and Essays of Mina Loy, editor Sara Crangle presents Mina Loy as commentator and critic of art and philosophy, a dramatist, a novel and prose writer and a poet.
This collection of writings positions Mina Loy as a modern feminist who played a pivotal role in the shaping of the modernist movement which included male artists such as Brancusi, Braque, Picasso (she was also the one-time muse of Salvador Dali), writers such as T. S. Eliot, James Joys, and D.H. Lawrence, and philosopher such as Sigmund Fred.
Anjelica Huston more popularly known as an actress of films such as The Adams Family (1991), The Adams Family Values (1993), The Grifters (1990), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), just to name a few. She was also the director of Bastard out of Carolina (1996), Agnes Browne (1999) and Riding The Bus With My Sister (2005). Now, she’s broadened her repertoire and adds author to her list of ventures.
In A Story Lately Told (just one of her three memoirs), Huston recalls her childhood in Ireland, her fashion modeling career in London and New York. She writes in an intimate voice throughout the book, taking readers along her coming of age journey from a sometimes confused and emotionally insecure young adult to a glamorous model with a colorful life in London and New York.
In case you’d like more reading recommendations, I’ve got you covered!