Persian Paris

In 1721, Montesquieu published an epistolary novel “Persian Letters”, which describes French society from the eyes of Persian. The book is full of satires, and one of them – about Parisians – was worth sharing.

In the letter XXIV, the character Rica wrote to his friend Ibben:

Letter XXIV:

You will scarcely believe that during the month I have been here [in Paris] I have not yet seen any one walking. There is no people in the world who hold more by their vehicles than the French: they run; they fly: the slow carriages of Asia, the measured step of our camels, would put them into a state of coma. As for me, who am not made for such hurry, and who often go a-foot without changing my pace, I am sometimes as mad as a Christian; for, passing over splashing from head to foot, I cannot pardon the elbowings I meet with regularly and periodically. A man, coming up behind me, passes me, and turns me half round; then another, crossing me on the opposite side, spins me suddenly round to my first position. Before I have walked a hundred paces, I am more bruised than if I had gone ten leagues.

I find it fun that, 300 hundred years from this day, people already complained about Parisians being too busy. Even if, to be honest, this description fits most of the big cities…

Posted on 2020-08-15