Last Nights of Paris
by Philippe Soupault
Translated by William Carlos Williams
192 pages, paperback
Written in 1928 by one of the founders of the Surrealist movement, and translated the following year by William Carlos Williams (the two had been introduced in Paris by a mutual friend), Last Nights of Paris is related to Surrealist novels such as Nadja and Paris Peasant, but also to the American expatriate novels of its day such as Day of the Locust. The story concerns the narrator’s obsession with a woman who leads him into an underworld that promises to reveal the secrets of the city itself… and in Williams’ wonderfully direct translation it reads like a lost Great American Novel. A vivid portrait of the city that entranced both its native writers and the Americans who traveled to it in the twenties, Last Nights of Paris is a rare collaboration between the literary circles at the root of both French and American modernism.
“Soupault’s nocturnal ramblings include street murders, stopped clocks, and unexpected breezes. This sweet strangeness may very well make you sentimental.” — Voice Literary Supplement
“A haunting depiction of a world in which the characters find themselves both the ghosts and the spooked.” — Review of Contemporary Fiction