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Monday, 17 March 2014

Return to Paris

Wednesday, March 17th., Hotel Bristol, Paris.

We drove to Andre Maurois's house at Neuilly. Nice ground-floor flat with garden and two children (boys 4 and 5); the daughter aged 12 had gone to her cours. Portrait of the dead mother on the table in drawing-room. She was beautiful. Something tragic about this. Maurois, slim, slight, Jewish; charming; with an open mind; interested, admirably urbane. Agreeable talking. It was all very nice. We left at 3.50, and Maurois drove us to Faubourg St. Honore in his car. I dozed.

Andre Maurois (1885-1967) was born and educated in Normandy. He was the son of Ernest Herzog, a Jewish textile manufacturer. His family had fled Alsace after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 and took refuge in Elbeuf, where they owned a woollen mill. During World War I he joined the French army and served as an interpreter and later a liaison officer with the British army. Maurois's first wife was Jeanne-Marie Wanda de Szymkiewicz, a young Polish-Russian aristocrat who had studied at Oxford University. She had a nervous breakdown in 1918 and in 1924 she died of septicemia. After the death of his father, Maurois gave up the family business of textile manufacturing. His first novel, Les Silences du Colonel Bramble, was a witty and socially realistic account of that experience. It was an immediate success in France. It was translated and became popular in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries as The Silence of Colonel Bramble. Many of his other works have also been translated into English. In 1938 Maurois was elected to the prestigious Académie française. He died in 1967 in Neuilly-sur-Seine after a long career as an author of novels, biographies, histories, children's books and science fiction stories. He is buried in Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery near Paris.

At 6.30 I went out to sample the Champs Elysee in the half-light, and began to like Paris again. Dined at the hotel. Good. Then to the Theatre Femina. Crowded. Heated. People came in half an hour late, noisily. Play began 17 minutes late. Ended 11.45. The first act terribly Bernsteinish and old-fashioned. Nothing to it. But in 2nd act, when it appears that Irene's frison is a Lesbian attachment, things begin to look up a bit. But the play was always wooden and antique in treatment; especially in dialogue. It was admirably acted by three women. Mdme. Sylvie as the heroine Irene was very fine indeed.

Le Bristol, Paris

I had sandwiches at the hotel. Muriel Foster came along and talked a bit. Alfred Sutro and wife had come along at dinner time.

Additionally for March 17th., see 'Wet and dark in London'

I slept at the R.T.Y.C. Thursday morning, long seance at barber's. Then to W. Nicholson's. He was in a black leather jacket covered in paint. He gave me the portrait of Wish Wynne that was used in the production of "The Great Adventure". He showed me some most ingenious 'still lifes', and Eric Kennington's biggish war picture - very striking.

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