Paris 1913


01Swann's Way20130107

1913 marks an extraordinary year in Paris. Momentous events occurred in literature, music and the visual arts. In the first of five essays looking at this annus mirabilis for French and European culture, Professor Michael G Wood of Princeton University explores the publication of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way, a novel that marked a turning point in the relationship between a writer and his characters.

Producer: Sara Davies

02The Rite Of Spring20130108

In a year of extraordinary cultural events, none was more notorious than the first performance of The Rite of Spring, performed by the Ballet Russes to Nijinsky's choreography and Stravinsky's innovative music, with startling designs by Nicholas Roerich. An audience riot erupted, and the fame, if not the success, of the production was assured. Music historian Richard Witts of Edge Hill University looks at and beyond this one performance to the musical landscape of the city that hosted it, finding innovation and groundbreaking events throughout this memorable year.


Guillaume Apollinaire's volume of poetry, Alcools, met with astonishment, admiration and a good deal of outrage when it was published in Paris in 1913. In its experiments with subject, structure and style it blazed a bold trail for the modernist poetry of the 1920s, claims Martin Sorrell of Exeter University.

Producer: Sara Davies

04Le Grand Meaulnes20130110

Among the memorable publishing highlights of 1913 Paris, Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes has become one of France's best-loved and most revered novels. Writer Michele Roberts looks at why it occupies such a privileged place in French hearts, and assesses the cultural and literary landscape from which it emerged.

Producer: Sara Davies

05 LASTCubism20130111

Writer Adam Gopnik sees Cubism, far from being a premonition of abstraction, as a new form of poetic modern realism, a way of capturing the syncopated, quick paced, eclectic mix of high and low that marks our civilization. Its tragedy, he argues, is that it captured that spirit just as the civilization it celebrated was about to commit suicide.

Producer: Sara Davies