This infamously lugubrious ballad was composed in 1933 by Hungarian Resző Seress to the words of a poem by László Jávor. Billie Holiday’s 1941 cover was banned by the BBC for fear of lowering morale. In the song, the singer laments the loss of their beloved and edges closer to suicide. Seress himself committed suicide in 1968 by leaping from his apartment window.
Despite her difficult life, Rhys had her happier moments in Paris of the 1920s. However, in Sasha’s paranoid mind, everyone and every place is capable of duality and betrayal, and she anthropomorphises the city as female.
Parisian-born French man of Letters and Nobel Prize winner, Anatole France began his career as a journalist and famously supported Émile Zola in the Dreyfus affair. Author of 22 novels as well as memoirs, plays, criticism and poetry, his final novel, The Revolt of the Angels was published in 1914 and is considered the zenith of his works. Critical of superstition and religion, he once wrote, ‘We have never heard the devil’s side of the story, God wrote all the book.’ France died aged 80 in 1924, making his state funeral a 13-year-old memory for Sasha.
A square in central Paris first laid at the turn of the 18th century and named for César, duc de Vendôme.
It is the site of the Paris Ritz.
Gigolos became a known quantity in the popular culture of the 1920s and 1930s with songs like ‘Just a Gigolo’ in 1929 and Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes’ in 1934. The ‘male lead’ in Good Morning, Midnight is known only by this title until his name (René) is casually revealed in part three in a note he sends Sasha. Gigolos have often been seen as male equivalents of the mistress – a parasitic and shady figure – rather than prostitutes. In post-World War I culture, handsome young men – a rarity after the recent bloodshed – would accept money to escort society ladies, and at the other end of the scale, a handful of silver for a turn on the dusty floor of a dancehall. Too obviously associated with the sex act for American mores, gigolos were mostly associated with Europe (‘The Old World’) and indeed the 1926 Hollywood film Gigolo (Dir: Cecil B. DeMille) starred Rod La Roque, in reality a French-Irish American.