Paris has long held a special place in the imagination as a city of beauty and glamour. There is a tendency in literature, film, and art to give the city a romantic aura. But behind that surface another Paris has long existed, a gritty place with its hidden corners that lie a world apart from the dream city of tourists’ imagination. Focusing on the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, The Other Paris documents that world—a world of crime, drugs, drinking and violence; of poverty, labor revolt, anarchism and socialism; and of cabaret, popular entertainment, sex, and prostitution. Using literary works, memoirs, newspaper accounts, and contemporary photos and illustrations, Sante brings to life a way of life that was ever near the lives of wealth and style shared by the elite, even if kept apart from them. Sante never patronize those whom he discusses, and he does not romanticize the harshness of the life gone by. But his work is a reminder that in past times, the poor at least had claim to the streets they inhabited. Today, poverty and wealth again sit side by side, but in Paris as elsewhere, those without are pushed away, undermining even “high” culture. Sante has produced a book documenting that loss, alongside documenting resilience.
The Other Paris - Luc Sante