John Watson


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In Montparnasse between the wars, Kiki, ‘Queen of Montparnasse’, danced and sang; Prévert created Baptiste there; Desnos travelled astrally, then woke to harvest the crop; painters — Kisling, Pascin, Foujita, Modigliani, Derain and others — laboured and partied there; Bronia came from Holland, destined to meet Radiguet, Cocteau’s Boy Wonder; later she would marry René Clair; Satie opened umbrellas there, always hoping for rain. There are triumphs, infatuations, liaisons, marriages, deaths. As the Carousel of Montparnasse turns, John Watson deftly notes its music — like Anton Walbrook in La Ronde or Jean Renoir in Les Enfants du Paradis. The octave ‘at once same and different, like a waterfall’ suggests the verse form, as unvarying as Ravel’s Bolero and orchestrated in two thousand tetrameters
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