The Function of Paris

The masterful reading of his beloved city made by Paul Valery in 1927 allows us to pay tribute to the French capital.

In these terrible days for the French capital we remember with pleasure a famed and extraordinary essay on Paris [1] by Paul Valéry – not about Paris in general, but about its function, which makes it unique and different to all other cities.
Valéry does not talk to us about the real Paris that is made up of visitable monuments and places, but about its function, which is of “a more subtle order” than the functions that characterise other cities. It is a function necessary to Parisians, to the French, to the Europeans and to all humankind. Over the course of time, it has even acquired it own autonomy.
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Domus 994, elzeviro
Domus 994, elzeviro

[1] The text reproduced in Domus 994, September 2015, for our Elzeviro section was written by Paul Valéry in 1927 and originally published under the title “Fonction de Paris” as one of the essays in his book Regards sur le monde actuel et autres essais, © Éditions Gallimard, Paris 1945. Reprinted in volume 2 of OEuvres de Paul Valéry, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Éditions Gallimard, Paris 1960. English translation by Frances
Scarfe: “The Function of Paris” in Paul Valéry, Reflections on the world today, Pantheon, New York 1948; Thames & Hudson, London 1951.
Domus 994, elzeviro
Domus 994, elzeviro

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