Page 55. " I wrote to him care of the American Express "

In 1920, American Express was mainly in the business of mail delivery, money orders, and traveler's cheques.

Page 55. " a café in the Latin Quarter "











The Latin Quarter is situated in the 5th and 6th arrondissements of Paris. It is rife with educational institutions (notably La Sorbonne) and student life, and known for its many bistros.

Google Map


Page 56. " at the Ritz bar or at Fouquet's "

Bar at the Hotel Ritz or at Hotel Fouquet's Barrière in Paris.

Page 56. " on my way to Marseilles, where I was proposing to take one of the Messagerie ships for Singapore "
Messageries Maritimes
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumMessageries Maritimes - Credit: Björn Larsson

The Messageries Maritimes was established in the 1800s, after shipping lines were opened to complement mail coach and railway services. The ships functioned to transport troops in the Crimean War, as a postal service,  and in commercial exchanges. The company was an essential support to colonial expansion. During World War I the ships were used as hospitals as well as to transport troops.

Page 56. " after dinner we went to the Dôme, to drink a glass of beer "

Café du Dôme, in Montparnasse, Paris, is a restaurant renowned as a gathering place for artists and intellectuals.

Café du Dome, a photograph by André Kertész taken in 1925, is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Page 56. " Then I strolled in the gardens, recapturing the memories of my youth. Nothing had changed. "

Page 56. " They might have been the same children who trundled the same hoops "

Page 57. " Then I went to the Odéon and looked at the new books in the galleries "

Extending from the Théâtre de l'Odéon, rue de l'Odéon is home to a number of bookstores. Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company would move to this address just a few months later (in May 1921). 

Page 58. " They landed at Cherbourg "

Cherbourg, in Normandy, is a port on the English Channel.

Page 58. " you can't do better than Chanel "

The Parisian fashion house was founded by Coco Chanel in 1909. Chanel represented simple, modern elegance.

Page 58. " I always used to go to Worth "

The House of Worth was established in Paris in 1857 and soon became a highly influential and respected couturier.

Page 58. " Then there are hats. Obviously Reboux. "

Caroline Reboux was a French milliner. She popularized hats with veils and created the cloche hat. Famously, Marlene Deitrich was a faithful customer.

Page 59. " Quelles manières "

French: "What manners".

Page 60. " rez-de-chaussée "

French: "ground-floor".

Elliott means a ground-floor apartment.


Page 62. " with his deep-set strangely black eyes, his high cheekbones, pale skin, and mobile mouth he reminded Elliott of a portrait by Botticelli "

Page 62. " Mellowed by the excellent Montrachet with which they had started lunch "

White wine from the subregion of Montrachet in Burgundy (as on page 37).

It seems Elliott likes his Montrachet.

Page 63. " Voyons, ma chère "

French: "Come now, my dear".

Page 64. " café au lait "
Café au lait
Creative Commons AttributionCafé au lait - Credit: Rob Barac
French: "coffee with milk".

In France usually an espresso base with steamed milk; often served in a bowl.

Page 65. " lying on a chaise longue "

Page 66. " They sat down on the terrace and ordered a couple of Dubonnets. "

Dubonnet is an aperitif —  a blend of fortified wine, herbs, spices and quinine. It was developed by a chemist to make quinine more palatable as a means of combatting malaria, for Legionnaires in North Africa. It's delicious!

Page 67. " It's near the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Sorbonne. "

Bibliothèque Nationale
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBibliothèque Nationale - Credit: Sailko
At the time of the novel's events, the Bibliothèque nationale de France was located on rue de Richelieu in the 2nd arrondissement, on the Right Bank of Paris. (The library has since expanded and new buildings were constructed, but the Richelieu site is still in use.)

La Sorbonne
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLa Sorbonne - Credit: Maksim
The Sorbonne, Université de Paris, is in the Latin Quarter, in the 5th arrondissement, on the Left Bank.

Larry lives in the Latin Quarter. Bear in mind that Paris is eminently walkable.

Page 68. " what a thrill it is to read the Odyssey in the original "

The Odyssey is an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer.

Page 68. " I've been reading Spinoza "

Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677), Dutch Jewish philosopher of the school of rationalism.

According to Spinoza, the universe is deterministic. Nothing happens by chance. He held good and evil to be relative concepts.

For Spinoza, reality is perfection. If circumstances are seen as unfortunate it is only because of our inadequate conception of reality. Sense perception is inadequate for discovering universal truth; he concluded that emotion is formed from inadequate understanding.

His explanation of how emotions must be detached from external cause in order to master them gives some prediction of psychological techniques developed in the 1900s. The more we are conscious of ourselves and Nature/Universe, the more perfect and blessed we are (in reality). His views provided a bridge between religious mysticism of the past and psychology of the present day.

Larry is working backwards from William James's Principles of Psychology.

Page 69. " lots of people have found answers that were perfectly satisfactory for them. Old Ruysbroek for instance. "
Blessed John of Ruysbroeck (1293–1381), Flemish mystic, known as the "Ecstatic Teacher" and the "New Dionysius".

From 1343 until his death, Ruysbroeck lived in a hermitage in a forest. There are traces of pantheism in his work.

Ruysbroeck insisted that the soul finds God in its own depths, and noted three stages of progress in what he called the spiritual ladder of Christian attainment: the active life, the inward life, and the contemplative life.did not teach the fusion of the self in God, but held that at the summit of the ascent the soul still preserves its identity.

Page 70. " bonne à tout faire "

French: "maid".

Page 73. " vin ordinaire "

French: "table wine".

Page 73. " old-fashioned French sulphur matches "
Page 74. " I was reading Descartes the other day "