Flaneur vs. Flaneuse

Type Flaneuse in the search engine and you will find a reference to the word Flaneur.

Flaneur is a French noun for a “stroller”, “loafer”, “lounger” and “saunterer”. It also refers to an individual who physically strolls with a philosophical outlook in perceiving passing moments. Its core meaning is to literally “to wander with no purpose”.

It was a literary term used commonly in literature in the 19th century associated with the streets of France, using the word Flanerie as a core concept of onlooking in the streets. The term was first coined by Charles Baudelaire, a French poet, Art critic and translator for Edgar Allan Poe. Charles Baudelaire created a poem called “Fleurs de mal/Flowers of Evil” which sparked scholarly interest in the 20th century, creating a movement amongst artists, writers and scholars.

À une passante

La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait.
Longue, mince, en grand deuil, douleur majestueuse,
Une femme passa, d’une main fastueuse
Soulevant, balançant le feston et l’ourlet;

Agile et noble, avec sa jambe de statue.
Moi, je buvais, crispé comme un extravagant,
Dans son oeil, ciel livide où germe l’ouragan,
La douceur qui fascine et le plaisir qui tue.

Un éclair… puis la nuit! — Fugitive beauté 
Dont le regard m’a fait soudainement renaître,
Ne te verrai-je plus que dans l’éternité?

Ailleurs, bien loin d’ici! trop tard! jamais peut-être!
Car j’ignore où tu fuis, tu ne sais où je vais,
Ô toi que j’eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!

— Charles Baudelaire

Translated into English:

To a Woman Passing By

The deafening road around me roared.
Tall, slim, in deep mourning, making majestic grief,
A woman passed, lifting and swinging
With a pompous gesture the ornamental hem of her garment,

Swift and noble, with statuesque limb.
As for me, I drank, twitching like an old roué,
From her eye, livid sky where the hurricane is born,
The softness that fascinates and the pleasure that kills,

A gleam… then night! O fleeting beauty, 
Your glance has given me sudden rebirth, 
Shall I see you again only in eternity?

Somewhere else, very far from here! Too late! Perhaps never!
For I do not know where you flee, nor you where I am going,
O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!

— Geoffrey Wagner, Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire (NY: Grove Press, 1974) 

Fast forward to the present, we now also acknowledge the Flaneuse. The female counterpart of the Flaneur. In the past Flaneuse’s have been mistaken for street-walkers or being homeless, as society’s general perception to tame women in the past has restrained them from wandering alone on the streets without any purpose. But women such as Virginia Woolf defied these social protocols and pursued to wander the streets, even labelling it as “Street Haunting”. She describes the feeling as “transformed by the quality of the light, of the air, of the road. As we progress through the cityscape there comes a point when we are no longer just reacting: we are interacting, created anew by this interaction.”

Today, women have taken these small steps of onlooking into streets and have taken their meandering into international routes. Sometimes they travel on their own for leisure, sometimes in packs to find themselves, at times even just for business. The female travellers today (thanks to the internet and women rights) are well-informed, self-financed, independent and curious. She seeks what any man seeks, perhaps even more.

So this is what propelled me to start this blog: To wander into all the types of beauty the world has to offer, to listen to conversations I have no plan of being a part of, to observe and just accumulate all the realities of life in different perspectives, in different languages, and in different depths.

Let’s inspire each other by sharing each other’s stories, please add me for current updates.

I hope you find your inner Flaneuse/Flaneur. 🌻🌻🌻

Image: Pinterest

Disclaimer: Please note I have not been paid or sponsored to do this review. This write-up is based on my own opinions, research and experience. Pictures used are personally taken, unless stated otherwise. I hope you find it helpful.


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