Bullfinch Press, 2001
Brassai (real name Gyula Halász) was a Hungarian artist who moved to Paris in the mid-twenties, in his own mid-twenties, and taught himself French by reading Proust.
Paris de Nuit was his first book, originally published in 1933, and has the feel of a single night’s walk through the city after dark. The first photograph in the series proper features the little train d’Arpajon (which, as the notes inform, brought vegetables into the city every night from Saint Germain en Laye) passing the Arc de Triomphe, which rings all sort of bells for me, as earlier this summer I spent a few days in Saint Germain en Laye, and one of the few things I wanted to see in Paris was the Arc de Triomphe, on account of its significance in William Faulkner’s magnificent book “A Fable” (and of course, 26 Rue Servandoni, where Faulkner lived albeit briefly in 1925).
This particular edition of the book features what I call inert printing, where the photographs are flat and dead on the flat dead matt pages, the loudest white being each distracting individual number screaming off the bottom of each page.
Our Special Collections division has a copy of the original wire-bound edition of this book, available to view by appointment.
When not part of the current display, you can find it here: folio DC707.B8G5G01 (world history – history of France – local history – Paris)
Come along to the Main Library on North Street to take a look for yourself. This book is part of The Hidden Photobooks display which is running from 1 – 30 September and is part of the St Andrews Photography Festival. Everyone is welcome and the event is free. Check out the Library Instagram for photographs Marcus has chosen from his own work to accompany these blog posts.