Flanner, Janet (1892–1978)

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Flanner, Janet (1892–1978)

American novelist and journalist who chronicled 50 years of life in Europe for The New Yorker magazine. Name variations: (pen name) Genêt. Born on March 13, 1892, in Indianapolis, Indiana; died on November 7, 1978, in New York City; daughter of William Francis Flanner (a mortician and real-estate developer) and Mary-Ellen (Hockett) Flanner; attended University of Chicago, 1912–14 (no degree); married William Lane Rehm, on April 25, 1918 (divorced 1926); no children.

Served as assistant drama editor, Indianapolis Star (1917–18); moved to New York with husband(1918); moved to Greece with lover Solita Solano (1921); settled in Paris (1922); published The Cubical City (1926); had published first "Letter from Paris" for The New Yorker (October 10, 1925); lived in New York (1939–44); returned to France (November 1944); broadcast for the Blue Network (later ABC) from Paris (1945–46); awarded the Legion of Honor (1947); given honorary degree, Smith College (June 1958); was a member, National Institute of Arts and Letters (1959); received National Book Award for Paris Journal, 1944–1965 (1966).

Janet Flanner once described herself as "a midwesterner whose life began at the age of thirty, when she first went to Paris." Writing under the "androgynous, anonymous, invented" name of Genêt, she chronicled the history of Europe for 50 years in her fortnightly "Letter from Paris" for The New Yorker magazine. This "gentleman of the press in skirts" wrote eloquent, incisive prose, loved women and France, admired traditional European civilization, and hated war and the men who made it. Having fled the puritanical, restrictive America of the 1920s, Flanner became the stereotypical expatriate; an American who lived in Paris, alienated from her homeland, she identified with European Old World culture but never became European. She explained her decision to live abroad through one of her fictional characters: "I didn't leave home to have lovers. But I left home to be free."

Born in 1892, Janet Flanner was the second of three daughters whose parents were active, respected members of the community. William Flanner owned a mortuary and speculated in real estate. Mary-Ellen Flanner was interested in the theater and "schooled her daughters in English poetry and good manners"; the eldest daughter, Mary Emma (Marie Flanner ), became a pianist; the youngest, Hildegarde Flanner , was an accomplished writer. Janet entered Tudor Hall, a private school, at age 11. The family's upper-middle-class lifestyle provided a secure, stable environment. The women of the family often felt "uncomfortable," however, about William Flanner's profession and seldom alluded to it.

Janet was a precocious child, outspoken and strong-willed; repudiating her self-righteous and repressed Protestant relatives, she lost her religious faith at age 14, she claimed, and became an adult. Never a brilliant student, she enjoyed school and was elected class president in 1905. Her mother, a frustrated actress, encouraged her to pursue a stage career, but Flanner had decided at age five that she wanted to be a writer. And that is what she would be for over 60 years.

Instead of attending college, Flanner accompanied her family to Europe in 1910. William Flanner, overworked, anxious, and exhausted, had lost considerable money through bad investments which put a strain on his marriage. Janet was aware of the tension, but it did not affect her appreciation of the cultural richness of Europe. The family lived in Berlin, where Marie was already studying music, and traveled in France and England. Flanner readily adapted to her new surroundings and formed her own opinions on what she observed; from this time on, she associated Germany with "beer, militarism, and the rudeness of soldiers" who "assumed they were superior beings." And in contrast to the prudish American attitude towards sex, Berliners openly discussed, and practiced, homosexuality. Lesbians, called "congenital inverts," were generally considered dangerous to society, a threat to traditional gender roles. It was in this city that Flanner first experienced a conscious attraction to another woman, the young wife of an officer, whose picture Flanner kept for the rest of her life.

When their financial situation worsened, the Flanners returned home. Though the mortuary was doing well, William Flanner's bad investments tormented him. On Saturday, February 17, 1912, he committed suicide. Janet Flanner refused to view his desperate act as one of "heroic liberation" and, it seems, was not much affected by his death. The family continued to live comfortably, and, in the fall of 1912, Flanner entered the University of Chicago.

For two years, she enjoyed an active social life, avoided attending classes, and did poorly in her academic subjects, which fazed her not at all. She also "enjoyed flouting convention," and it is possible that she was expelled from the university; she later vaguely alluded to the fact that she was considered "lawless." So, in 1914, Flanner grudgingly returned home, despite despising "Indianapolis manners and mores." That same year, she worked at a Quaker girls' reformatory in Philadelphia; not temperamentally suited to social work, she left after nine months. Flanner's desire to be a writer was partially fulfilled when she was hired by the Indianapolis Star. She reviewed vaudeville and burlesque shows and, in 1917, was promoted to assistant drama critic. Her belief that the appreciation of art could not be learned and that "those who made art or appreciated it were in a class by themselves" served as a motif in her reporting over the next 60 years. This attitude

is obvious in her disdain for the taste of "puritans" and "common people." However, during World War I, the Germans, rather than American philistines, were targets of her attacks. Vilified as "absurd, savage, and crudely insensitive to the finer things in life," she accused them of destroying civilized Europe. This was, of course, in stark contrast to the cultured French.

Flanner had kept in touch with college friends, one of whom, William Lane Rehm, she suddenly, and inexplicably, married in April 1918. A "decent" young man, he was, according to Brenda Wineapple , "a Victorian, a puritan, a sentimentalist," qualities no one would expect Janet Flanner to find appealing. Why then did she marry him? Perhaps to get out of Indianapolis, but she never revealed the real reason. The couple moved to New York where Rehm worked in a bank. Curiously, Flanner was back in Indianapolis, working at the Star in May 1918, and did not return to New York until August. They moved to Greenwich Village, but it was soon evident that marriage and domesticity were an alien world to which Flanner could not, or would not, adapt—she never mastered the use of a can opener or door locks. Flanner realized, much to her consternation, that she was not in love with her husband and that she was physically and emotionally attracted to women. Moreover, marriage interfered with the independent life she envisioned, a life built around her own friends and social circle. Fortunately, Flanner had an income from her father's estate which freed her from financial dependence on her husband, and a prenuptial agreement guaranteed her control of it. That she could not love Rehm, a "good man," as she admitted, caused her great anguish.

In New York, Flanner met prominent writers and journalists, including Alec Woollcott and Jane Grant , and achieved some social prominence in her own right. Two of her published short stories from this time illustrate her concerns and interests: "As It Was" relates "how women stirred her imagination," and "Portrait of Our Lady" looks at Adam and God and the creation of woman. Years later, she could write that "Men are strong and women are necessary," and pondered, "Why can't there be a third sex … a sex not dominated by muscle or the inclination to breed?" Flanner liked New York yet felt the urge to leave but wondered how she could abandon the man who was "too good for me?"

In the early twenties, when I was new there, Paris was still yesterday.

—Janet Flanner

Meeting the exotic-looking, 30-year-old Solita Solano was the catalyst that determined and affected the rest of Flanner's life. Solano was drama editor of the New York Tribune but wanted, like Flanner, to be a novelist. These two unconventional, independent, spirited women fell in love. For almost 60 years, Solano was Flanner's confidante, her friend, her family. "Rarely does a day go by that I don't think of you," Flanner wrote to Solano in 1974, 56 years after they met. Their relationship is crucial to understanding Janet Flanner as a woman; the chaos of her private life is the antithesis of her structured, successful career in journalism. More immediately, Flanner's dilemma was three-fold—she was in love with a woman, she was married to a man her family adored, and she was pregnant. Whether she miscarried or had an abortion is not known. Flanner also agonized over hurting Rehm and how her mother and sisters would react. Obviously, she could not reveal her relations with Solano, and, in fact, Flanner's sexual orientation was never openly acknowledged or discussed with her family. Acceptance, not overt approval, was the basis of family harmony.

In 1921, Solano accepted an assignment for National Geographic, and Flanner accompanied her to Greece without informing her mother or sisters. She and Solano knew they could not live in the United States, and Flanner "wanted freedom from the sexual, personal, and professional restrictions" in America. While in Athens, Flanner wrote a travel article for the New York Tribune, "Hoi Polloi at Close Range," in which she declared that "the civilization of today, influenced by bourgeois self-interest, is moving away from an ideal," and she further deplored "the crudity and vulgarity of modern America." Janet Flanner had found her journalistic voice and the central theme of her future work. In Rome, she wrote poems celebrating her new-found freedom. From Vienna in 1922, she dispatched a letter to Woollcott at The New York Times about witnessing anti-Semitic demonstrations there. She was impressed with the elegance of Vienna but equally touched by the effects of war on the people. And war was the fault of men who "are absurd enough to believe they are superior for doing it." The events leading to hostilities in 1939 only gave credence to her view.

Janet Flanner had found a world for the future "Genêt" to inhabit: old, traditional, refined and graceful, her home and her refuge from the "puritanism, materialism, hypocrisy," and "standardization" that characterized her native land. Flanner and Solano settled in Paris in the fall of 1922, where "we were able to begin anew," wrote Flanner. For 16 years, they lived in the historic quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the sparsely furnished rooms of an old, nondescript hotel. They lived as part of the lively neighbor-hood inhabited by the French and expatriate intelligentsia; they frequented the famous cafés, Deux Magots and Flore, and became part of the fecund French cultural scene. Their world was peopled with women who loved women—writers, artists, publishers, who "lived together, worked together, and were openly sexual with one another." F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein also became close, lifelong friends. Neither Flanner nor Solano was monogamous, and soon a third person joined them; Nancy Cunard , the tormented, self-destructive English aristocratic "crusader" for social causes, became one of the "three happily married women" who, as Solano wrote, "survived all the spring quarrels and the sea changes of forty-two years of modern female fidelity."

In 1924, Flanner was working on her novel, The Cubical City, "her symbolic farewell to America," which is largely autobiographical. Writing was a slow, laborious process for Flanner, and she struggled all of her life to create and perfect the style that finally brought her international recognition and acclaim. Published in 1926, the novel was judged by one critic as too masculine to allow comparison to other women novelists. Undaunted, she began a second novel set in California but soon lost interest and abandoned it. Janet Flanner was about to embark on a new career and a new identity; The New Yorker magazine was launched, and Genêt was created in 1925.

Flanner had been writing letters from Paris to Jane Grant, and when Grant and her husband Harold Ross started The New Yorker, Grant asked Flanner to be their Paris correspondent. Ross wanted the author of the "Letter from Paris" to be French-sounding, and he invented what he considered a Frenchified version of Janet, Genêt. A steady income and deadlines gave structure, direction, and meaning to Flanner's life that had been missing. And she was able to maintain contact with New York while living in Paris. The "Letters" were meant to appeal to those familiar with all aspects of French life, not the typical tourist who came to "Yurrup" to satiate "their thirst for licker and bargains," as Flanner noted. Her task was to inform, not to educate, and to avoid analyzing, explaining, or editorializing. As an active participant in the Paris scene, Flanner, chic and fashionable, wrote intimate, amusing, and intelligent observations on all manner of subjects, art, literature, fashion, and the French themselves. A keen observer of the nuances of Parisian life, "Genêt portrayed each event, person, place, against a background of muted disdain for American plumbing, household appliances, puritanism, and prosperity," wrote one biographer. Her first fortnightly "Letter" appeared in the October 10, 1925, issue of The New Yorker; 50 years later, she penned the last of them.

Each day Flanner read about a dozen French newspapers, and she frequently attended cultural events, happy to partake of "the finest civilization had to offer," elegant taste, money, and wit. Writing her 1,000-word "Letter" required concentrated effort; alone in her hotel room, she often wrote and revised for 48 hours, "deliberately crafting materials into well-shaped vignettes edged in sharp humor." Her editors wanted her to submit additional pieces, and Flanner decided to attempt a "Profile" of a living person; she chose Isadora Duncan , "a heroic woman whose art was … beyond the bourgeois stuffiness of those Americans bred… on 'Turkey in the Straw'." Janet/Genêt never missed an opportunity to satirize American taste. She and the magazine editors thought it an excellent portrait, and Flanner went on to write on the fashion designer Paul Poiret and the American expatriate novelist Edith Wharton .

Flanner was proud of her success and recognition and her ability to earn a living. But the stability of her professional life in no way resembled the turbulence of her private affairs. It was essential that the nature of her relationships with Solano and other women be kept from her mother. And in 1926, her husband arrived in Paris. Flanner had, in fact, not given much thought to divorce, or to Rehm. When she and the "dear boy" met, they decided to divorce on the grounds that he had deserted Flanner. Actually the opposite was true. Freed from her non-marriage to Rehm, Flanner's personal life only became more complicated. After 1926, she saw less of Solano who was now a member of a commune outside of Paris, founded by the Russian mystic Gurdjieff, and Nancy Cunard was involved in an affair with Louis Aragon, a Surrealist, whom Flanner did not like personally. Nor did she like Dadaism or Surrealism for she believed their objective was to destroy the culture she loved. But Flanner was not alone. In early 1932, she fell in love with the elegant, proud Noel Murphy, a woman from a wealthy, socially prominent New York family. Murphy had a house in Orgeval, near Paris, which became a refuge for women, and Flanner's second home. Flanner was still living with Solano in their hotel, but Solano also had another woman friend, as did Murphy. Monogamy was not an essential part of their relationships; love and loyalty bound them together over the years.

Flanner had love, a successful career, and a regular, comfortable income. But she had not been able to write a second novel, to be a "real" writer. As Europe plunged into economic depression and fascism, Harold Ross asked Flanner to expand her coverage of events in and around France. She neither knew nor cared much about politics, however, and felt unsure of herself on the subject. Her 1930 profile of François Coty, perfumer and financier, concentrated on character and business, avoiding reference to his fascist sympathies. Her world was changing, and her visits to Berlin, in 1931 and 1933, disturbed her. She admired the crisp, smart pageantry of the Nazi processions but objected to having her papers checked and being told she "must wear skirts, not trousers, not wear powder, lipstick or smoke in public." Further, bloody political riots in Paris in 1934 caused her to fear for the future. Violence and repression, which she hated, were rampant. More and more, her "Letters" covered political events, often sounding, she said, like "horrifying thrillers." But, she wrote her mother, she enjoyed being a journalist now more than ever before. "She had found her subject matter, her niche, her purpose," Wineapple noted. Flanner contributed articles to Fortune, Arts and Decoration, and Vanity Fair, in addition to "Letters from Paris" for The New Yorker. Periodically she returned to the United States but never considered living there: "If you don't go home after ten years, you know you're hooked.… And you won't go home. You won't want to go home." Flanner had a home—an austere hotel room in Paris.

In 1935, Flanner traveled again to Germany to gather material for a "Profile" on Adolf Hitler. She read Mein Kampf three times and intended to write an objective, politically neutral portrait of the "Führer," the title of her three-part essay. The first lines are an encapsulation of the nation and the Führer: "Dictator of a nation devoted to splendid sausages, cigars, beer, and babies, Adolf Hitler is a vegetarian, teetotaller, nonsmoker, and celibate." Fully cognizant of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, she did not mention it in the profile. This omission prompted some Americans to consider Flanner fascist, and the piece was viewed as pro-Führer in Germany. But Flanner refused to identify with the political Right or Left; French politics were irrational, she concluded, and she was disgusted with "men who arrogantly and stupidly presumed to govern, who abstractly theorized about the lives of others, particularly women." Flanner received several job offers after her Hitler profile appeared in January 1936, and even turned down Time's offer to hire her as a foreign correspondent in 1937. She began, however, to think of returning to the United States if war broke out; she was admittedly afraid but would stay as long as she could, and she did—"I shall be the last to leave," she defiantly declared, "The last Middle-Westerner on this peninsula of Europe, of Eurasia."

If Flanner had little acquaintance with European politics, she knew even less about sports, but she was sent on assignment to cover the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The spectacle impressed her as did the "aristocratic" Nazi SS troops. Exhausted and ill from traveling, meeting deadlines, and trying to keep some kind of order in her personal life, Flanner resigned her "Letters from Paris" assignment in 1937, and she had no interest in going to Spain to report on the civil war there; she hated war as fervently as her friend Hemingway gloried in bloody conflicts. Flanner was fond of the macho Hemingway but regarded his "male histrionics [as] childish."

Friends were leaving France, but Flanner still held tenaciously to her hope that war would be averted. Her editors wanted her to stay in Europe, and there was nothing for her in the United States. Depression and recurring sciatica made travel and working increasingly difficult for her. While attending music festivals in Germany and Austria, Flanner saw firsthand the reality of Nazi anti-Semitism, calling it "reprehensible." When Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, Flanner and Solano packed their bags and hid their jewelry and gold coins at Orgeval. But the summer of 1939 saw Paris alive with theater, nightclub life, and balls which fortified her belief that war was not imminent. On September 1, Hitler invaded Poland, and Parisians prepared for an attack. The New Yorker wanted the experienced Flanner to stay in France, but she refused. She and Solano borrowed Murphy's car and drove to Bordeaux; they sailed for New York on October 5, 1939; Murphy remained in France. On June 13, 1940, Paris surrendered to the Germans.

Flanner intended to return to France no later than January 1940. In the United States, she felt uncomfortable, unattached, and had trouble concentrating: "The symbols of her life were gone; so were her friends, her community, her routine of work and pleasure." Janet/Genêt had lost her "home," her bearings. She experienced feelings of guilt and depression; she had abandoned France, her friends, and Noel Murphy. Flanner frequently lectured on what was happening in France, wrote articles on France, the French Resistance, General Charles de Gaulle, and war, all under her own name—she had left Genêt in France. She also continued to struggle with her profile of Thomas Mann whom she thought "stiff … and pompous." But her four-part study of Marshal Philippe Pétain, 87-year-old head of the collaborative Vichy government in France, was published as a book in July 1944; she thought it her best work.

Sharing a more settled life in New York with Natalia Danesi Murray , with whom she was in love, could not relieve her distress on hearing Noel Murphy had been arrested; she was released three months later. And Solano felt neglected, though their bonds remained solid. Natalia Murray was more demanding than Flanner's other lovers, and Solano was jealous. Paris was to Flanner what Rome was to Murray, and both longed to end their years of exile in America.

Finally The New Yorker arranged for Flanner to fly to London in November 1944 as an official war correspondent. In late November, she joined Murphy at Orgeval; three days later, she was in Paris. Flanner frequently saw Hemingway who boasted about "liberating" Paris and read her his poems. But Flanner had changed, as had France. Her fellow journalists at the Hotel Scribe regarded her as an experienced "old hand," but Flanner worried that she had nothing to say as she wandered around the "charnel house" that had been Europe. Out of this devastation Genêt was reborn with Flanner's first postwar "Letter from Paris" in December 1944. The deprivation endured by the war-weary civilians made her depressed, lonely, restless, and feeling out of touch. She traveled to assuage her anxiety and to have something to write about. In Cologne, she saw the "people starving, frightened, and still mouthing Nazi propaganda." She reported on concentration camps, Ravensbrück and Buchenwald, and on the Nuremberg trials where she made evident her feelings for what she called "the 'unreconstructed' German mind"; "I hate them," she wrote to her sister Hildegarde. Flanner also began broadcasting for the Blue Network, later ABC, despite extreme nervousness that caused her hands to shake. She enjoyed the freedom of voicing her own opinions, unlike the impersonal, neutral tone of her "Letters."

"I wish nothing had happened that has happened in our lives," Flanner sadly wrote to Solano. Her Paris, her France, her Europe no longer existed, and Janet/Genêt felt adrift. She appeared confused about her work and disjointed in her relations with her three lovers; she depended on, and needed, each in a different way. Wineapple explains that Flanner seemed to be losing faith in herself—she had always felt inadequate as a writer—and in the world. A belief in what she termed "civilization" had always sustained her, but her belief now wavered, and she was not certain about anything. It was difficult to have "faith in governments, politics, religion, God, and even man himself. He is full of the wicked proof of the rightness of not purely believing in anything." Only Solano and The New Yorker remained as bulwarks against the alien, uncertain world in which she lived.

Travel to Warsaw, Berlin, and Vienna in 1947 and receiving the Legion of Honor from the French government could not mitigate her sense of not belonging, of not recognizing her once-familiar surroundings. At age 56, she felt "desperate and homeless," she said. "I have now no place to go, to remove me from myself." In spring 1948, Flanner wrote Ross that she intended to resign in January 1949, but, when the time arrived, she had changed her mind. She was Genêt, and The New Yorker was her mainstay. Working on a profile of Léon Blum, the first Jewish and socialist prime minister ever in France, pleased her. Flanner admired the socialists as the party of pacificism, humanism, as the most "female-minded party." Her "Letters" must have revealed her political sympathies and her estrangement from postwar Europe; Ross remarked on her lack of faith in the French and asked her to return to the States, to "reorient" her, Flanner thought. All she could say was that "no one … felt the same way about anyone anymore," and offered to resign. But, once again, she remained, picking up her work and life in Paris.

Obviously, Europe had changed for the worse, but so had America in her eyes. Mc-Carthyism was rampant, and Flanner's writer friend Kay Boyle and her husband were accused of eing security risks, "Red" sympathizers, in 1952. Flanner associated McCarthyism with Fascism and was highly critical and ashamed of her homeland. Her friends were to be tried by American officials in Germany where Flanner testified on their behalf in October 1952. The New Yorker had not renewed Boyle's accreditation with the magazine and refused to support her at the trial. Flanner was badly shaken by this violation of "an almost sacred trust," as she saw it. Kay Boyle was blacklisted in America, and, as a result, Flanner had certain papers removed from her own French dossier. McCarthy's witch hunt was aided by FBI agents who could search through any American's files in Paris.

Disillusioned and disappointed in The New Yorker's lack of response to Boyle's situation, Flanner remained on the staff. After a five-month hiatus, she resumed writing her "Letter" and did several excellent, insightful profiles of artists Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque, and one of General de Gaulle's close associates, André Malraux, whom she regarded as a genius. Several of her perceptive profiles appeared in a book, Men and Monuments, in 1957. Flanner's life remained hectic and demanding; every other month, she flew to New York; in Paris and Orgeval, she divided her time and attention among "present and former lovers" trying to avoid creating discord and ill will among them. Flanner's opinion of France and its future improved when General Charles de Gaulle took over the government and established the Fifth Republic in 1958. She regarded the authoritarian former war leader as "France's savior" and the "Frenchman of sacrifice," but became more critical of his policies as the bloody Algerian war dragged on.

Further recognition of her journalistic writing brought Flanner an honorary degree from Smith College in 1958; the following year, she was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and was invited to speak to the Overseas Press Club. She was flattered to be so honored and felt she deserved the recognition. Still her success as a journalist could not compensate for her sense of failure—she wanted to be considered a writer, not a journalist. When approached about writing her memoirs, she flatly refused. To the public she was Genêt, a mask that concealed her true identity. Her "Letters" for The New Yorker revealed as much about her as she was willing to divulge.

Age did not interfere with or affect Flanner's frenetic lifestyle, but her energy was flagging, and she often felt disconnected from Paris and the younger generation. Flanner continued to fill her "Letters" with the latest happenings, but it was obvious she preferred the past with its elegance, grace, and politesse. These qualities are reflected in her writings which began to appear in collected form. Paris Journal, 1944–1955 was published in 1965; as Wineapple wrote, "Janet re-created the drama and inconsistencies of twenty years of French life in a prose that read like poetry." It won the National Book Award in 1966, and Flanner became a celebrity, appearing on the "Today" show (1966), among others, to publicize her book. Back in Paris she found it increasingly difficult to relate to "modern" France, which was reflected in her writing for the magazine. The Paris skyline was changing, and she disliked the new literature and plays, the strident, long-haired youth, the politics of the New Left, and the presence of American slang and "franglais." Genêt evinced no empathy for the massive student revolt and workers' strikes of May 1968. She wrote scathingly of the rioting youth as "a generation of malcontents" engaged in "nihilistic tribal warfare," but her coverage of the "Days of May" was, nevertheless, objective and lucid. In August, she suffered a mild stroke yet managed to send off her fortnightly Paris dispatch. The success of her earlier Paris Journal was followed by two more volumes and the evocative Paris Was Yesterday, 1925–1939, for which she wrote the preface. "Memories are the specific invisible remains in our lives of what belongs in the past tense," she informed her readers. She was showered with accolades "which I frankly deserved," she remarked.

Heart problems did not prevent her from frequently traveling between Paris and New York, between Murray in New York and Solano and Murphy in France; "our poor 1/3 darling Nancy" Cunard had died in 1965. In October 1975, Flanner moved permanently to New York. Solano died in November, and Genêt's last Paris letter was posted that year.

Janet Flanner was, as Glenway Wescott recalled, "the foremost remaining expatriate writer of the Twenties." When she died in November 1978, on her way to the hospital in an ambulance, her New Yorker obituary noted that "She caught history as it raced by and before others knew that it was history." And Genêt also captured and forever preserved in her "Letters" the Paris that would always be yesterday.


Flanner, Janet. Darlinghissima: Letters to a Friend. Edited and with commentary by Natalia Danesi Murray. NY: Random House, 1985.

Rood, Karen Lane, ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 4, "American Writers in Paris, 1920–1939." Detroit, MI: A Bruccoli Clark Book, 1980.

Wineapple, Brenda. Genêt: A Biography of Janet Flanner. NY: Ticknor & Fields, 1989.

suggested reading:

Flanner, Janet (Genêt). Janet Flanner's World: Uncollected Writings, 1932–1975. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979.

——. Men and Monuments. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1957.

——. Paris Journal, 1944–1955. Vol. I. William Shawn, editor. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1988.

——. Paris Journal, 1956–1964. Vol. II. William Shawn, editor. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1988.

——. Paris Journal, 1965–1970. Vol. III. William Shawn, editor. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1988.

——. Paris Was Yesterday, 1925–1939. NY: Viking Press, 1975.


Papers and letters are located in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Jeanne A. Ojala , Professor of History, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah