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Elkin’s history of the subversive and exclamatory manners by which women walk throughout urban spaces is as exhilarating as it is necessary. From Jean Rhys to Martha Gellhorn, this book surgically deconstructs the sexist conceptualizations of flanuerie and replaces them with something more informed, subtle. I found myself rereading passages over and over again—there is a musicality to these arguments which makes them unshakable. A blurring of memoir, literary theory, and gender studies, “Flanuese” is an honest, and insightful read for anyone who wishes to fully comprehend the artistry of strolling about town.— From Bennet's picks
FINALIST FOR THE PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD FOR THE ART OF THE ESSAY
A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
The flaneur is the quintessentially masculine figure of privilege and leisure who strides the capitals of the world with abandon. But it is the flaneuse who captures the imagination of the cultural critic Lauren Elkin. In her wonderfully gender-bending new book, the flaneuse is a "determined, resourceful individual keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city and the liberating possibilities of a good walk." Virginia Woolf called it "street haunting"; Holly Golightly epitomized it in Breakfast at Tiffany's; and Patti Smith did it in her own inimitable style in 1970s New York.
Part cultural meander, part memoir, Flaneuse takes us on a distinctly cosmopolitan jaunt that begins in New York, where Elkin grew up, and transports us to Paris via Venice, Tokyo, and London, all cities in which she's lived. We are shown the paths beaten by such flaneuses as the cross-dressing nineteenth-century novelist George Sand, the Parisian artist Sophie Calle, the wartime correspondent Martha Gellhorn, and the writer Jean Rhys. With tenacity and insight, Elkin creates a mosaic of what urban settings have meant to women, charting through literature, art, history, and film the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes fraught relationship that women have with the metropolis.
Called "deliciously spiky and seditious" by The Guardian, Flaneuse will inspire you to light out for the great cities yourself.