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38 | Lauren Elkin and the Flâneuse

38 | Lauren Elkin and the Flâneuse

Listen to Episode 38: Lauren Elkin and the Flâneuse

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Episode Summary

Today on Tea & Tattle, I'm speaking with the brilliant Lauren Elkin about her wonderful book, Flâneuse. In part a memoir of Lauren's experiences living and walking in Paris, New York City, London, Venice and Tokyo, Flâneuse is also a fascinating examination of the cultural history of creative women, such as Virginia Woolf, George Sand and Jean Rhys, who have found inspiration and freedom from roaming city streets.

In our conversation, Lauren explains how her own creative self-discovery whilst exploring Paris as a student first led her to identify the flâneuse, a female equivalent to the flâneur: a male author or artist who wanders the streets of his city with an observant eye. The flâneur or flâneuse takes the part of a spectator; at one with the city, but also set a little apart from it, looking on from the outside.

The flâneur - with its masculine form - has always been used to describe a man, but in her book Lauren brilliantly argues the case for the feminine flâneuse, showing how historically women writers and authors have also engaged with city streets, drawing on their urban environment for creative inspiration.

Lauren Elkin. Image © Marianne Katser

Lauren Elkin. Image © Marianne Katser

I so enjoyed hearing Lauren's thoughts on the challenges that women still face today when walking in a city, the women she finds especially inspirational and why Paris is so special to her. 

Listen to learn more about Lauren Elkin's book, Flâneuse, and the creative inspiration that taking to a city's streets can bring. 

Episode Breakdown

  • 00:24 - Miranda introduces Lauren Elkin.
  • 02:07 - How Lauren's love for literature and walking began. 
  • 05:27 - Why Lauren is especially drawn to urban, rather than countryside, walking. 
  • 09:19 - How Lauren first heard of the term flâneur and how she came to identify the flâneuse.
  • 11:40 - The characteristics of a flâneuse
  • 14:02 - Lauren describes the premise of her book and reads an extract from it. 
  • 19:48-  How Lauren first made the connection about writing about a place and researching the women who had experienced that place in the past.
  • 13:23 - How being under the 'male gaze' affects a woman's experience of a walking in a city.
  • 15:32 - Lauren's experiences taking part in street protests and the danger of the 'mob mentality.'
  • 33:59 - Why Martha Gellhorn is the flâneuse that Lauren particularly identifies with.
  • 35:48 - Male reactions to Flâneuse.
  • 39:32 - Why Paris is such an inspiration to generations of creatives.
  • 42:05 - Lauren shares what's next for her and the new novel she's writing.

Episode Links

Tweet Me!

click on the Twitter icon to share my favourite quote from this episode

Tweet: 'It seemed to me to be a subversive act for a woman to walk the city streets.' ~ @laurenelkin on #teaandtattlepodcast: http://bit.ly/2upqZf2

It seemed to me to be a subversive act for a woman to walk the city streets.

 - Lauren Elkin

Your Thoughts

Thank you so much for listening and being a part of Tea & Tattle podcast. As always, I love to hear your thoughts, so please let me know:

What did you enjoy most about this episode? Have you read Flâneuse or are you keen to do so now?

Next Time...

I'm in conversation with the violinist and writer, Min Kym, about her heart-wrenching memoir, Gone. Be sure to tune in again next Tuesday!

Happy Listening!  

39 | A Chat With Min Kym

39 | A Chat With Min Kym

37 | A Chat With Lopè Ariyo

37 | A Chat With Lopè Ariyo