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"The Absinthe hour….dates from the burgeoning…of the small press. In earlier times, when there was nothing but large serious newspapers…there was no absinthe hour. This heure de l'absinthe is the logical consequence of the Parisian gossip columns and tabloids." Gabriel Guillemot, Le Bohême (Paris, 1869), p. 72 ("Physiognomies parisiennes").

- Benjamin, The Arcades Project (p.430 in the HUP edition)

This is one of apparently only two references in the Arcades Project - such paucity seem odd to me, given the allure absinthe developed over time. Interestingly, however, Benjamin puts this quote in the section detailing his notes on the flâneur.

This really prompts me to two questions. Anyone else have any info on how absinthe and the culture of the arcades interacted? Further, at what point did the mythos around absinthe take the shape we all know? It seems that if it has the allure it does now in the 1930's that Benjamin would have made more mention of it.
Jack Batemaster
J'ai deux petits mots : um, non.
I'm not familiar at all with arcade culture, but the Benjamin quote you cited reminded me of something Theodore Child wrote in his Characteristic Parisian Cafes article published in Harper's, 1889:

In fact, the cafe and the newspaper came into vogue almost simultaneously about a century ago, when Louis XVI. was King. As the times became more interesting, the gazettes became more numerous, and the calm topics of art, the drama, and the scandals of the court gave way to hot discussions about the rights of man, in which the women also took part.

He ends that paragraph with this: Thus we have one important point settled, namely, the Frenchman does not go to a cafe for the sake of drinking, nor does he drink at the cafe for the sake of drinking, much less because he is thirsty; he drinks simply because he wants to go to the cafe.

It seems to me that, if this kind of culture already existed in the late 1700s and early 1800s, then the heure verte was simply a natural extension of (or addition to) that culture. But what do I know? I wasn't there.
The second part of that could equally apply to Loungers and LoucheFests.
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