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SOLO 67 | Flâneuring

 

Academic, author, and happy solo, Federico Castigliano, joins Peter McGraw to discuss Federico’s book, Flâneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris. A flâneur practices wandering without destination in order to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the cityscape. Peter and Federico discuss the origins of the flâneur, some best practice for flâneuring, and – like many of the topics on Solo – how the flâneur is unconventional and typically operates solo. They conclude by discussing some of their favorite cities to wander without aim.

Listen to Episode #67 here:

Flâneuring

I’m delighted to invite an academic author and happy solo Federico Castigliano to discuss his delightful book, Flâneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris. A flâneur practices wandering without a destination in order to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the cityscape. We discuss the origins of the flâneur and some best practices for flâneuring, and as many of the topics that we cover here on the show, how the flâneur is unconventional. We also talk about some of our favorite cities to wander without aim. Finally, this was to be an episode in a forthcoming series on solitude. As you’ll discover being a flâneur is a solo activity but doesn’t necessarily entail solitude. The flâneur typically operates alone, but he or she may also connect to the crowd. I hope you enjoyed the episode.

The guest is Federico Castigliano. Federico holds a PhD from the University of Turin in Italy. After working for several years at French universities, he teaches comparative studies at Beijing International Studies University in China. Federico is an expert in the field of aesthetics and urban studies. His research examines the relationship between art, literature and city spaces. We’re here to talk about his wonderful and delightful book, Flâneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris. The books have been translated into four languages, thankfully, including English, which is the only one I can read. Welcome, Federico.

Thank you for inviting me, Peter.

Prior to when we were talking about this, you said that you did a little bit of research into the SOLO and found that there’s a connection between you being a flâneur and being solo.

There’s some point in common. I read your website and I checked your show. I found many points in common with the theme of my book and with the idea of the flâneur. I want to say that being a flâneur doesn’t mean being lonely. I wanted to emphasize the meaning of the word solo. The flâneur is someone that is unconventional. This is the keyword I found in many episodes of your show. Flâneuring is a solo activity. It’s a remarkable activity and it’s unconventional. For these three aspects, we can match.

Thank you for doing your homework. You clearly are an academic, doing some background reading and listening. This should come obvious to the readers why I chose this. What is the history of the flâneu? What is a flâneur? What does a flâneur do? Let’s get into a little bit about the rise of flâneuring in Paris in particular.

The flâneur used to be a solitary walking man, but it could be a woman also. This man was wandering around the city, observing the landscape of the city, and melding himself or herself into the crowd. The word flâneur is a word that comes from the French verb, flâner that means wandering around, walking without any destination or any goal in the city, and enjoying this process. This word is so unique that we cannot find a perfect translation in other languages like in Italian or Spanish. When I translated my book, I decided to keep the French title for every edition of the book. The flâneur is a character born in Paris and historically, he or she is related to the history of Paris.

Nowadays this is an activity that can be done almost everywhere. That’s the interesting part of being a flâneur. You don’t need to be embarrassed. You can do it everywhere. Most of the time, being a flâneur means traveling solo so that’s the connection with your show. A flâneur is a solo activity. You can very exceptionally find a partner in a flâneuring, but when you walk around the city and when you explore a new area of the city and you are with a friend, you would maybe focus your attention on the conversation. You might exchange with this person, but a flâneur should be focused more on the relationship with the environment and the space surrounding him or her. That’s why flâneuring is especially a solo activity.

When I was reading your book, I was scribbling in the margins and underlying things. It’s beautifully written probably because you wrote it in Italian first and then it was translated. One of the things I thought about was to flâneur is to wander without intention, and to consume the city, the sights, the smells, the views, the people and to discover. What I thought of it at first of why it works as a solitary activity versus as a dyad or a duo is the aimless part of it all. It’s hard to wander aimlessly with two people because there has to be some negotiation. I want to go this way. You want to go this way. It doesn’t work, what you brought up with something I didn’t even consider and forgive me if I didn’t read closely enough. That is the act of being with someone else may inhibit the consumption, the view, the smell, and the thoughts that you see because you’re aware of this other person. You’re negotiating, you’re talking to them and that’s going to distract your attention. Is that right? Are those two things working against you?

That’s right. I want to underline the difference between having a walk and being a flâneur. Also, the difference between traveling as a tourist and traveling as a flâneur. If you have a walk, you can have a walk along the Champ-Elysees in Paris. Also, you can watch the buildings, the shopping windows but it doesn’t mean you’re a flâneur. Being flâneur means creating a very special contact with the city, with the spaces, and losing somehow yourself. It means giving up for a while your own identity and trying to create this special connection that I talk about in my book with the city.

This connection is not only about what you watch, the smell, or the sound of the city, but it’s also about your own identity trying not to consider yourself as so important in the city and trying to marry the crowd. That’s the expression that Butler, one of the most important French authors that introduce the character of flâneur in the 19th century. Butler used this expression, marry the crowd. It means feeling part of the city or part of the crowd. This is also the process that a flâneur must try to achieve during his or her trip when they go abroad.

I love this notion. You’re connecting it to unconventional. When people walk in the city, the conventions are to walk, to see the sights, get to work and get a coffee. These are the conventional walking activities within a city. To walk without those aims and to walk to take it in, clearly is not within the normal convention.

A flâneur establishes an intimate relationship with the city and the space. It’s not just visiting the city, but he or she is trying to learn something from the city and is trying to read the city. There is a form of knowledge that the act of being a flâneur brings you. This form of knowledge, first of all, because you can read the city as a text like a book because cities contain a lot of stories. If you are a good observer, you can read these stories. You can be a reader of the history of the city and the arts that were in the city. The second knowledge you can get from being a flâneur is you can forget yourself for a while. You can get lost in the city. You can maybe try to establish a new relationship yet with space.

I want to get more into this idea of the city as a story. That’s important because it’ll help the aspiring flâneur to think about how to flâneur. Before we get into that, you alluded to the rise of the flâneur in late 1800s and these authors were writing about this particular character. Who is this character? Describe this character. Is this a character that I can identify? Why did flâneuring happen at this particular stage in Paris?

First of all, at that particular stage in Europe, there was the second industrial revolution. Paris was one of the epicenters of this great change in economics but also in the society. A flâneur is a key character of modernity because it’s a new way of observing the city. The city at that time changed radically. There was a complete transformation of Paris that took place in the second half of the 19th century. The old narrow streets of the middleage city were destroyed. Big avenues with the sidewalks, shops, and cafes were opened. The city was made to be walked.

That’s a specific characteristic of Paris. The flâneur appears specifically in Paris because the city had some characteristics. The city was made to be walked. It was a great place and a place that you could enjoy. Maybe you could live in the city like in your own house because you can sit on the chair in front of the Avenue, in front of the Boulevard, and enjoying the show of the city. You can sit down with a coffee and admire the people passing by, for example. These are the activities that only the specific characteristic of Paris made possible.

If I understand you correctly, the Paris that I know came about during this time.

Yes. Paris became Paris at that time. It became what we immediately think Paris is. Also, Paris is a very dense city. We can compare it with Los Angeles. If you wander around Los Angeles, unless you are not running a marathon, it’s very difficult to cross the city in 1 or 2 hours, but Paris is very dense. One hour or two-hour walk can bring you very far in Paris. You can go from one monument to another monument very easily. There are no empty spaces inside. Let’s say that the fabric of the city is very dense. I used the word fabric because the word textus in Latin means fabric. We could say that the city is like a story, like a text. I like the word textus in Latin because it gives us the idea of the city as a human structure but also as a story that you can read.

Who is this flâneur though that these authors were writing about and why did this come about? A more walkable city leads to more walking, but why this particular form of wandering aimlessly with the goal of sights, smells, and marrying the crowd?

There is a connection between literature and the urban development of Paris. From one side, the human development of Paris created the possibility of being a flâneur. At the same time, some French authors like Balzac, Butler, Maupassant, and other authors gave us specific cultural meaning to this character. If you want me to describe, the flâneur is a gentleman normally dressing up. They are normally close to another character of the 19th-century Europe that is the dandy. The flâneur leaves in an unconventional way. It could be a scandal in the crowd of the modern city because most of the people are walking in the street going from A point to B point to get their business done.

The flâneur is not the same. The flâneur is walking without any goal. The pace of the flâneur’s walk is much slower than the other people because he walks with his eyes. He walks watching around the city and his senses are very focused on creating disconnection with the city around him, creating an intimate relationship with the city. Being a flâneur somehow means listening to the voice of the city, trying to read the story that the city has. Flâneuring is somehow an activity opposite to introspection. It’s some activity that brings you outside yourself and brings you to melt your identity with the identity of the city.

What was so interesting about that is oftentimes, people will seek out solitude to be able to reflect internally. That’s interesting that the flâneur is reflecting externally, so to speak.

Flâneuring is a solo activity, as I previously said, but it’s not solitude at all. I feel very happy when I travel to a new city far away. I don’t know absolutely anyone and I leave my luggage in the hotel. That’s the best moment when you get dressed, and you get out and start wandering around the city without any map. In the beginning, I like not to have any map and go where the city leads me. I want to emphasize the difference between a flâneur traveler and a tourist. When I travel, I don’t have expectations about the city. I don’t read so much information about the city before visiting it. I would like to be like a virgin. My mind has to be a virgin in discovering the city, and let the city teach me for what they want. I don’t want to be like a tourist that’s one of the key points of being a flâneur. It’s refusing the tourism.

A tourist is going to say, “I need to go here. I need to go there. We need to get here by Tuesday. We’ve got an appointment.”

A tourist has a plan. That’s the difference. When you travel by yourself, you’ll travel solo, that’s much better or much easier to be a flâneur. When you travel with your family, normally you must have a plan. Especially, if you have kids, you cannot travel without a plan and a destination. If you are with your wife, she would ask, “What are we going to do today? What are we going to eat?” When I traveled by myself, I don’t plan absolutely anything. Especially for the food, I don’t plan on what I have to eat. Let’s see. I start walking in the city, taking pictures, not checking the map too much and discovering something new. I like the concept of serendipity or the concept of a fortunate discovery that the city can bring me. This discovery can be the discovery of a monument or a church. It also can be meeting someone new. When you’ve traveled by yourself, you are open to the new. You are open to maybe meeting someone new, maybe some local person. This encounter maybe can teach you a lot. This way of traveling is much more interesting than the tourist that normally travels.

First of all, what I’m realizing is that this is probably not the right episode to put in part of a series on solitude. I may have to pivot this as I hear this.

You can change the title or adjust the title.

I think it’s useful. This flâneur in the late 1800s dressed up much like the dandy. The dandy was about looking very good. It does strike me as there’s a bit of status signaling that’s happening here. As the city bustles and people are hustling to work, they’re doing their commute, they’re rushing to get to work on time. They’ve got an hour for lunch and they need to get to the place and order, and get back to their office or back to their factory or whatever it may be. The flâneur doesn’t need to do that because the flâneur is typically of higher socioeconomic status. He’s a man of leisure and his or her pace suggests originally.

Paris was the first modern city. It’s not a coincidence that the flâneur was born in that city. Originally, yes, the flâneur has a high status. Being a flâneur today, you don’t need to follow step by step exactly the character of the 19th century. You don’t need to dress up to wear a tie to go flâneuring today. That’s just the origin of the character.

Do you have a prescription about dressing to be a modern-day flâneur?

SOLO 67 | Flâneuring
Flâneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris

I tried to observe how people dress in the city I visit. If you go being a flâneur in Rome or Milan, you must dress in a particular way. For example, the Italian fashion is more colorful and more classic. If you’re going being a flâneur in Bangkok, you can dress in a more relaxing way. I like to dress in a way that is closer to the crowd. I want to meld myself in the crowd. I don’t want people to notice me too much. If you dress up, you risk to lose the pleasure of being anonymous and invisible in the crowd. This is another characteristic of the flâneur. The flâneur likes also to disappear in the crowd. There is a very interesting story by Edgar Allen Poe, a short story. The title is The Man of the Crowd. The Man of the Crowd is someone who likes to lose himself or to disappear in the city and the crowd. This is a very special relationship I create with the city. It’s maybe the central point of being a flâneur more than the clothes. Personally, I try to copy the way of dressing of the local people more or less.

In the book, you say to dress smart but not too smart.

That’s not the point. Also, you must wear some comfortable clothes because if you want to be a flâneur, you must be physically ready to walk for hours. I like the feeling of walking or being tired. When I’m tired of walking in a city, I feel this special connection with a city, a much stronger connection. I like this feeling.

I like this idea of if you don’t want to dress down too much because that’s also distracting, fitting that in between. The changes that I’m hearing, the evolution of the flâneur is now, it’s non-gendered. It is not a way to signal status. It’s not a way to stand out per se, but rather it’s a way to fit in. What remains is this artful wandering and the potential to connect not only in terms of architecture, sights and sounds, but also to connect perhaps to the people if serendipity may occur. You might have a conversation with a shopkeeper or ask for directions or something like that or whatever it may be.

Let’s talk a little bit about this idea of the city as a story because you’ve alluded to it. You’ve talked about this tapestry. You have in the book, as I said it’s wonderfully written, you talked about the banality and the mundane. There’s a sentence that I wrote down that says, “Ignore the banalities and the mundane things seen on television or read in newspapers. To be free and alone in the maze of the city, the flâneur craves of revelation that might change his or her life.” Can you say a little bit more about understanding, this is connected to your research I know, that the city as a story, the discovering of a plot that is magnificent, that’s not mundane?

First of all, before traveling in a city especially a new city, I try to avoid tourist guidebooks. The first suggestion I would like to give to someone who wants to try to be a flâneur or flâneurs.

If I may, the first one is to dress smart but not too smart. Try to fit in with the aesthetic, so you don’t stand out.

You must not stand out. I think it’s the key point. You must feel like a local. This will help you also to meet more people if you want to meet some local people and create a connection with them.

I didn’t mean to interrupt. The second one is to give up this hierarchy of these are the good places and these are the not good places.

The third one is don’t build a wall between what you are or what you think you are and what the city is and/or what you think the city is. Most people say, “I’m a traveler. I’m an American. I go to Thailand.” This is, “I’m American. This is Thailand. Those are Thai people.” For me, the key is trying to give up for a while your own identity. That’s the only way you can create this connection with the place you visit. This operation is much easier to do when you are by yourself. When you travel solo, it’s much easier. That’s why I like traveling solo because I don’t feel like a foreigner, that’s the point. Wherever I go, I don’t feel foreign. This has something to do with also the fact that I traveled a lot, but also this is a characteristic of the flâneur. It’s creating this interconnection with space.

Help me understand. I would say this, “I love to walk a city and I love to take it in.” I have to say, I’m motivated to do it differently as a result of your work. Thank you for that. I want to encourage people to do this and to do this within their own set of goals. How do I discover the story of a city? How do I understand the city as a plot?

First of all, there are different techniques to discover this. The first technique I can suggest is the technique of drifting. Going into a city without any goal, without any destination. Get ready for the unexpected. Get ready to listen to what the city can bring to us. The story we are talking about or the plot of the story might not be so linear, not so clear. The movie is not a traditional 19th-century novel like a Dostoevsky novel maybe. It’s more like a contemporary movie. You can get some different elements of the city and the story is created in your mind. You can put these pieces together. I don’t think you must read the city as a novel from the first page to the last page. We can say also it’s a movie. It’s more similar to a movie.

The issue though is that if I walk Paris and you walk Paris, we experienced different movies.

What counts is my relationship with the city. I told you the example, I like Thailand for example. The touristic image of Thailand is not what I like. All the stereotypes about the country don’t match my experience of that specific country. After my solo trips as a flâneur, I go back home with an image of a place that doesn’t match with the experience of other people. That’s very interesting.

This flâneur, this lone wolf wandering the city, does he or she do it fast or do it slow? Is there a pace? Originally, the original flâneurs walk more slowly, but is there a prescription in terms of pace?

The original flâneur wanted to show off. The fact that he doesn’t have to rush because his or her social status was higher and they didn’t have to work. Nowadays, it depends. It’s like music. I try to walk faster, sometimes to walk slower. Sometimes I get excited because I noticed in the landscape of the city some element that attracts me. I want to reach that building I see far away. Sometimes I like to enjoy the sunshine on my face and I walk more slowly. There is not a prescription because being a flâneur is being free. I don’t want to give too many rules. It’s just some suggestion. Also, you must be ready for the unexpected. The city will bring you somewhere. The city will teach you something. You can have this attitude to listen to the city more than to yourself, more than to your plan. Being a flâneur means wandering around without a plan and listen to what the city brings you.

It’s more an absence of a goal than the presence of a goal.

Also, it’s more about deleting the stereotypes, the common sense, the cliche. The idea is you have received about the place you are going to visit. That’s maybe what the city can teach you. It’s not like a knowledge you build up brick after brick. It’s not like a story that you write page after page. It’s something different. It’s more like mental freedom you acquired. You free yourself from the knowledge or you used to have the stereotypes. This is maybe the biggest advantage of being a flâneur.

Which fits your advice about avoiding tourist maps, tourist guides, and having this prejudged element of the city, let me ask you a few questions. I have to tell you, I am so delighted by this idea, this solo activity that to me feels very uplifting. It gives the city a chance to be its best in a sense. I like the idea that it is truly connected to this notion of freedom, which is it’s inherent in the unconventional thinking that this show often tries to promote. There’s not a rule about fast or slow. There’s not a rule about how long or short.t I do have a few questions. As a flâneur then, is it okay to start to walk and then decide, “This isn’t right. I’m going to turn around and come back?”

It’s possible. You mean to come back home or go over to another place?

It’s like I’ve been going north and this doesn’t feel right anymore. I’m going to turn now and go back south.

Absolutely.

What about being altered as a flâneur like caffeine, alcohol, cannabis, psychedelics? What about wandering the city under the influence of something?

It’s not my technique but I understand it could be. I don’t need it but I understand. For me, the spectacle of the city is exciting enough. In general, being a flâneur is inspiring for many artists. The impressionist painters in Paris in the 19th century were flâneur because they decided to work outside their atelier, outside their studio. They brought their canvas outside on the street and they started to paint the impression of the moment. That’s why we call it impressionist. Maybe this is the approach that a flâneur can have with a city, trying to get the impression. In this process, I understand maybe someone would like also to use some special help like the one you mentioned before to get high and to be inspired. I don’t think it’s necessary.

I wouldn’t think it was necessary. I didn’t know if it feels within some of this idea of freedom. You mentioned taking pictures but I also like this idea, and this is something that I do when I like to walk a city prior to learning about this, is I bring my journal with me. I bring a pen and a small journal that I can stop and jot down notes.

That’s what they do as well but I mainly use voice messages. I record myself and then I listen to myself. That’s what I do. Sometimes, I walk with my headphones. If I see something, I record my voice and I listen later.

That’s great. The last couple of things that I want to talk about, is this notion of Paris as the epicenter, the starting point, the genesis of the flâneur. Reading the book, the subtitle is about the art of wandering the streets of Paris. Is there a better city to flâneuring than Paris?

Paris is good because my book is related to my research about its character in Paris. You can do it almost anywhere. I haven’t gone to any city where it’s impossible to be a flâneur. For example, I’m in Shanghai and I’m in what is called the French concession of Shanghai. It’s very similar to the urban structure of Paris. I like to wander around Shanghai. The flâneur must not be in Paris. It can be whatever he or she wants. No need to be in that city.

Some cities are better.

For example, New York and Los Angeles. In New York, it’s easier even if the weather in Los Angeles is better because Los Angeles is made for cars. That’s my impression when I went there. If you don’t have a car, it’s very difficult to reach. In New York City especially in Manhattan, you can walk around the city without any car. It’s possible. Some cities are better for sure. The cities where normally there is a bigger density and where there is some history also. It’s important because when you describe better this process of reading the city as a text. You can get in contact with buildings or historical places that brings you memories of the past of the city, but also about your past. If the city is new or made in the last twenty years, maybe you cannot enjoy this fact of being connected with the past and with the people who lived before us. For being a flâneur, it’s better if you go to a city with a long past so you can have more options.

Beijing is better than Shanghai, for example.

Not necessarily because Beijing is very cold, that’s the reason why I’m in Shanghai because we have all holidays in China. I’m in Shanghai because here it’s warmer so I can walk around. Beijing somehow is much more similar to Los Angeles because there are five big ring roads surrounding the city. Sometimes I find myself the only guy walking in Beijing and all I can see are cars in every direction. It’s a very busy city. People want to go from home to work or they want to go shopping. They call a taxi like an Uber every time. Sometimes I find myself like the only guy who is walking in the street.

That goes against my intuitions. I’ll put forth my two candidates for myself personally. The first one is London. I love to walk in London. It’s a very walkable city. For people who’ve never been to London, it doesn’t have the skyscrapers that New York City has and it feels very open. There’s a lot of sky in London. That’s very fun but you also have to stay on your toes because the cars are on the opposite side of the street. It makes you a little more present. That’s there. Also as an American, it’s familiar because you can read the signs and know what the shops are for. You can ask questions but it also feels exotic because of the accents and the different language.

There’s also the shared history. You see Abbey road. You see Kings Cross and Hyde Park. There’s a familiarity that’s there but also more original. It’s the first one that I like a lot and I look forward to using this technique the next time I’m in London. The other one that I like is Tokyo. Tokyo is appealing for a different set of reasons and that is it can slow you down because there’s so much happening. One block of Tokyo could take you an hour to go down because there’s so much to see, hear and smell. It is very exotic and different, yet still somewhat familiar because Japanese culture has reached the West.

Personally, I’d been to Tokyo as well by myself. The other point is when I travel in a city, I like to take my time. I don’t like to go for a weekend. This is not the way I normally travel. I like to stay if I can, for at least 2 to 3 weeks or even longer. Normally if I plan to stay in a city, I like to stay for maybe one month.

My counterpoint to that is, and I’m taping this while I’m in a hotel, I like hotels for short trips. The reason is they’re often in a place that already lends itself to walking. To me, that’s my counter but I completely understand the desire to have a space. Are there any cities like non-obvious cities that in your experience you feel lend itself to being a flâneur like Bangkok? I hadn’t thought about Bangkok. I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand and to see Bangkok and I hear wonderful things about the food and the culture and so on. What are some other places that people might not think about that you would say, “This a great city to wander aimlessly nobly?”

I’m from Italy. I can give you many examples about the Italian cities. I would say Venice for the obvious reason that there are no cars.

Not when you are a tourist. You have to go in when it’s quiet.

You can find the tourists always in the same 3, 4 streets. You tap away from them and it’s empty. The city empty. Don’t follow the other people. It’s very simple. The other point I like about Venice is that you can get lost. This is one characteristic I like of Venice. If you don’t have a map, if you don’t have a GPS, you can easily get lost even if the city is not very big. The point is there are many canals and the buildings are so confusing. The plan of the city that you can easily get lost or you can get trapped on a little island. That’s a city that can give us a very special experience of the flâneuring. It’s very different from the Paris experience.

I can see how that’s interesting. I would not have thought about Venice. I would have thought other Italian cities. Any others besides Italian cities that come to mind?

Personally, I like Rome. I’m not from Rome, I’m from the North of Italy. I like Rome. I think in Rome, you will not be the only flâneur. There are a lot of flâneurs in the city. It’s a part of the way of life of the people there to live in the street. They live in the street as the street was like their own house. Especially the shops, for example, they don’t only take care of the interior of the shop but also the sidewalk and the pavement outside the shop. Normally, they decorate the street with some flowers and plants. In that way, I think the city feels like being a house, a home. There is no border between public space and private space. That’s a characteristic of Rome I like. There’s not a very clear border. When you are outside, it also feels like you are inside a house.

Federico, you gave me a wonderful gift because I’ve been to Italy in the summer a number of times and I struggled with all the tourists. What you have suggested to me is that if I go as a flâneur and I walk the city, and because I’m away from the tourist places, I get to see the best of the city at the best time of year.

If you can reach Italy now, it will be a perfect moment, but I’m not sure you can find a flight.

Not yet. The last thing I want to talk to you about is your own soloness. This is a word that resonates with you more than the word single. What is it about that word?

I’m not always a single, but I’m always a solo. For me, it means I’m responsible for my life and I decide independently. I take decisions independently. I don’t think I’m lonely. I don’t think everyone who are in a relationship or married is less lonely than me or less single than me. The effect of being solo means to be being aware of that.

I think that’s right. We have identified and a perfect activity for the solo because to flâneur and to be solo have so much overlap. It’s about freedom. It’s without necessarily having to consult and having that autonomy over your steps, your observation, and not have to negotiate with someone else in order to be able to do that. In the same way, being solo is a bit unconventional, so is the act of nobly wandering a city in order to meet the crowd, so to speak. That’s a wonderful perspective. Federico, I want to say, thank you so much for doing this. I want to thank you for writing this lovely, wonderful book. If people are interested in learning more and being more inspired besides reading your book, are there any other resources that they could look to?

If they want to have a view about the historical character of the flâneur, I suggest Charles Butler. It’s the starting point. The poem and the prose poem of Butler are considered the starting point. In general, the bibliography can be very big. I want to mention this book as a starting point.

That’s great. Federico, I will let you get your day going and as mine comes to an end. I want to say thank you so much. It would be wonderful one day to wander across you walking a city at the same time.

That is what I am going to do after the end of our conversation. Thank you, Peter, for inviting me.

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About Federico Castigliano

SOLO 67 | FlâneuringFederico Castigliano holds a Ph.D. from the University of Turin in Italy. After working for several years in France (University of Nantes, University of Clermont- Ferrand, University of Toulon), he currently teaches Comparative Studies at Beijing International Studies University in China. Federico is an expert in the field of aesthetic and urban studies. His researches center on the relationship between art, literature and city spaces. He is the author of the book “Flâneur. The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris” (2017), where he describes the city wandering as a form of art. The book has been translated into four languages.

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