Bookstore set for ‘Emily in Paris’ is found for tourist in France

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Even if the reader hasn’t watched it, he’s certainly heard of the series “Emily in Paris”, the millennial and even more frivolous version of the cringe and New Yorker “Sex and the City”.

In it, the young protagonist, a Cinderella of Chicago marketing, unable to ask for a pain au chocolat in Molière’s language, is responsible for launching a new tourist spot in the already vast repertoire of the most coveted city in the world: the Place de la Estrapade. , a tiny, bucolic and ultra charming square in the heart of the mythical Latin Quarter, just a few steps from the historic Sorbonne and the Panthéon.

It was at the Place de la Estrapade — where, until the 18th century, unruly heads and deserting soldiers were guillotined — that Emily hosted a birthday dinner, draped in a hot pink dress that would scare even Italian fashion designer Elza Schiaparelli, the most ardent supporter of it. color.

But, oh, the scenery. In the background of the soirée, in a beautiful slow shot executed by a tracking shot, a curious contrast, to say the least: the Portuguese bookshop of a French hermit with Bartlebly airs that every tourist needs to know.

This is Librairie Portugaise & Brésilienne, which, since 1986, has been a real find in France. The last one specializing in Portuguese-speaking languages ​​in the country, the bookstore is full of titles —bien sûr— in Portuguese from Portugal and Brazil, in the original, translated into French or bilingual.

The books range from classics to young writers, coming from numerous publishers, including those of the bookseller himself, the translator and editor Michel Chandeige.

Editora Chandeigne is the leading authority on Portuguese-French publishing in France, with a catalog of almost 200 titles published in 30 years. The themes are varied for a complete immersion in the Lusophone universe: ethnographic, novelistic, poetic, historical.

Among the releases, the editor highlights the new anthology of Portuguese poetry, from the origins to the 20th century, from the original “La Poésie du Portugal, des origines au XX Siécle”, by Max De Carvalho (also available on the publisher’s website).

Another charm, among the many in the place, is being able to discover Portuguese literature beyond the bastions, the new literary scene of the nine Portuguese-speaking countries, see Brazilian works translated into French, or even come across small curiosities, such as the humorous editions. of cordel literature — a good example is “O Matuto que Perdeu a Mulher to Facebook”, by Tião Simpatia.

Speaking of friendliness, don’t expect the warm Brazilian temperament from Michel Chandeigne. He is a French bookseller whose training took place in Portugal. In short, the tourist can only take advantage of the shelves and be content with receiving good indications.

At the bookstore, not everything is flowers and fountains, but it resists in one of the most privileged (and expensive) quarters of the city. To understand its importance, it is worth mentioning that there is no longer a single Hispanic or German bookstore in France. Some closed their doors during the pandemic, even those considered to be local institutions, such as Manzarine in Saint Germain Des Prés.

Visiting the bookstore thus becomes more than a tourist tour: it is a way of granting it prestige and also guaranteeing its existence.

In the square where Emily, in the series, displays all her nouveau riche aesthetic sense, and despite a slow but steady disappearance of a meritocratic Paris, Librairie Portugaise & Brésilienne lives up to the artistic and intellectual imagination of Paris.

In it, it is possible to feel at home, or between the best of both worlds. After the inspiring visit, the tourist has a beautiful bistro with a terrace overlooking the square. In the coming spring, you can order “un vin rosé, svp”, and enjoy reading.

Folha spoke with Michel Chandeigne, who, in a laconic style, names his preference for Machado de Assis and Guimarães Rosa as “banal tastes”, and also says that the Brazilian publishing market is nothing special.

When did you fall in love with the Portuguese language?

My appointment in 1982 at the Lycée Français Charles Lepierre. Lisbon was an unknown wonder. There was a huge amount of work to be done to discover Portuguese and Lusophone culture.
Then my translation work, started in 1983 (Fernando Pessoa, Eugénio de Andrade, Ramos Rosa, Nuno Júdice, etc.). And finally, my meeting with my wife, Ariane Witkowski, professor of Brazilian literature (deceased in 2003).

What are the challenges of running a foreign language bookstore in Paris?

In 1986, the date of the foundation, it was evident, with favorable winds. Now, 35 years later, competition over the internet is unstoppable. We are the last Portuguese-speaking bookstore in France. The Spanish-speaking women disappeared twelve years ago, the German ones too.

Your favorite Brazilian authors, and why?

No need to justify, to read and reread, Machado de Assis, Guimarães Rosa, Drummond de Andrade, Milton Hatoum, Rubem Fonseca, Lygia Fagundes Telles. Banal and classic tastes. Nothing original. Among the young authors, Marcelino Freire, Carrascoza, Ana Paula Maia.

A little-known or under-appreciated writer you adore.

Cornelio Penna, Modesto Carone.

How do you see the Brazilian publishing market?

I don’t see anything special.

Strategically positioned in the heart of the Latin Quarter and Parisian intellectual life, how do you see the interest of the French in Brazilian literature?

An interest that has always been constant since Jorge Amado in the 40s. But the truth is that out of 350 translations available, 95% of sales concern Jorge Amado, Chico Buarque, Conceição Evaristo, Clarice Lispector, Machado de Assis, Graciliano Ramos and Guimarães Rosa . Paulo Coelho, although very sold, does not count because the public does not have the feeling of reading a Brazilian author (in general, the themes of his books are not Brazilian), but belonging to world literature.

After a period of explosion of FIACs and large bookstore conglomerates, the presence of small street and niche bookstores grew in the United States and shrank in Brazil. How is this market in France and Paris?

France has protected traditional bookstores for 40 years. After Buenos Aires, Paris is the city with the highest number of bookstores per inhabitant.

Recently, the Netflix series “Emily in Paris” ran two seasons at Place de la Estrapade, the address of the protagonist and the same as the bookstore. Did you watch the series or follow the recordings? Have you noticed any changes in your surroundings since then?

Yes, it was nice. There are more tourists to take selfies over the square. But they are not potential readers.

His work as a translator and editor of Portuguese-language authors at the head of Editora Chandeigne is recognized. Tell us a little about your editorial line and what are the next releases.

The Chandeigne publishing house, founded in 1986 and directed by Anne Lima, is the cornerstone of our activity. The catalog covers all domains of Lusophone culture in the world. Bilingual books, novels, history, art, children’s literature, etc. Almost 200 titles published in 30 years.

What is it like to translate poetry?

I am retired from this activity. Before, they were like everyday physical exercises. I liked being able to translate for lost hours, avoiding the work of prose works, glued to a chair. It’s been proven that the more options we have, the harder it is to choose. It’s called the Paradox of Choice.

What is a bookseller’s criteria for choosing his next readings?

If I knew…

The book you would recommend to a Frenchman to start trying to understand Brazil.

“Racines du Brésil” by Buarque de Holanda, and “Dictionnaire Amoureux du Brésil”, by Gilles Lapouge.

What is the most beautiful word in the Portuguese language?

Heart, in the songs.

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