PRINT February 1994


Adrian Rifkin's Street Noises

Adrian Rifkin, Street Noises: Parisian Pleasure 1900-40 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1993), 221 pages. Illustrations.

When I was a child my father took me up to the viewing platform above the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Pointing south he said “Look. There’s the top of the Eiffel Tower.” And there it was, barely visible, on the far horizon. Many years later I was up on the same platform once more, with a friend. “Look,” I said, “there’s the top of the Eiffel Tower.” “Don’t be so daft,” said my friend, “that’s the Crystal Palace radio transmitter for south London!” And of course it was.

Adrian Rifkin first glimpsed Paris in anecdotes of visits his grandmother made there in the ’20s. His Paris, then, is a city initially imagined from the perspective of a child from a Jewish Alexandrian family, growing up in a Manchester that for Rifkin “even today, on a

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