There is no more use thinking about it. I will never be a landowner; and yet, how many times on the 8th or the 15th of each quarter (around Paris, at any rate), have I sung the refrain of M. Vautour:
When one does not have enough to pay one’s rent
One must have a house of one’s own!
I would have constructed such a light building in this vineyard! . . . A little villa in the style of Pompeii, with an impluvium and a cella, something like the house of the tragic poet. Poor Laviron, who died at the walls of Rome, had drawn out the plan for me.– Yet, to tell the truth there are no landowners on the hills of Montmartre. One cannot legally establish ownership on this terrain undermined by the cavities populated by mammoths and mastodons on their inner walls. The town concedes a right of possession which expires after a hundred years. . . They are camped out like Turks; and the most progressive tenet would hardly contest such a transient claim, in which the right of inheritance cannot become established at length. *
*Certain landowners repudiate this detail, something which I have heard others affirm. Would this not also result in usurpations similar to those which gave back hereditary fiefs under Hugues Capet!
1. Excerpt from Gerard de Nerval, Walks and Memories (1854) (trans. Marc Lowenthal), published in Aurelia and Other Writings, Boston, Exact Change, 1996.
Top: Alvin Langdon Coburn, Moor Park, Rickmansworth, 1914.
Center: Brassai, Chez Suzy, Rue Gregoire de Tours, 1932.
Below: Diego Velasquez, Villa Medici, Façade of the Grotto Loggia, 1630.