After Them, the Déluge

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Twilight of the Belle EpoqueTwilight of the Belle Époque: The Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault,
 Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends through the Great War
by Mary McAuliffe
Rowman & Littlefield.  418 pages, $29.95

 

Few periods in French history are as glittering and vibrant as the Belle Époque, the prosperous decades of peace between France’s ignominious defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1871) and the carnage of the Great War (1914-18). We are still awed by the urban achievements of the period: Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s monumental remodeling of Paris was completed; the Eiffel Tower (1889) soared to a record height for a manmade structure; new electric street lamps dazzled the world above ground and the Métro bustled below. The era’s varied artistic production still reliably supplies blockbuster exhibits of Art Nouveau, Impressionism, Post-impressionism, and Cubism for the world’s museums.

Mary McAuliffe’s Twilight of the Belle Époque inevitably delights with its evocation of the glitterati of Paris from 1900 until the end of World War I.

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