Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Janet Flanner, during her many years in Paris as European correspondent for the New Yorker magazine, picked up the French love of epigrams. Genet, as she is known to the magazine readers, tried this out yesterday on a Town Hall audience at the Biltmore.
“The United States was the richest country in the world—that’s dandy. Now it is the only rich country in the world, which is terrible.”
Flanner was a regular visitor to Los Angeles, spending months at a time with her mother, Mary H. Flanner, at her home at 428 E. Marigold St. in Altadena. During one vacation in Los Angeles, The Times found Flanner working on a brick wall at the home, along with her brother-in-law Frederick Monhoff of the Otis Art Institute, who was married to her sister, the poet Hildegarde Flanner.
She was featured in a 1940 Times magazine story titled “I’m Going Back to Paris,” and although she ended up spending most of the war in New York, her comments provide an interesting insight on the foreign correspondent.
“Why leave peace and security and plunge oneself into the difficulties and dangers of war?” The Times asked. Aren’t you frightened.” “Yes, she admitted, very frightened.”
“Because, she said, she is a correspondent and a correspondent is a sort of verbal doctor who stays with his patient until the end.”
Speaking of postwar Europe in September 1947, she said:
“The carpetbagging of our American soldiers went on for two years until the Army stopped it. It made cigarettes legal tender. American money still rates high, but our morality rates low.”
“Just now we Americans are trying to run a checkbook empire. It can’t be done.”
Six years before her death in 1978, she told an interviewer: “I wrote a novel, not very good, don’t bother with it. I did a few short stories, not very good, either. Learning to write is a tedious concern.”