Book Review: From Victorian England to the Women’s March, women taking to the street is political

Flâneuse is a book about a woman walking through cities. But it is also about reading and writing, seeing and being seen, youth and age, architecture, urban planning, rebellion, protest, romance, heartbreak, longing, and belonging. In the introduction, “Flâneuse-ing,” author Lauren Elkin’s explains her “imaginary definition” of this term:

Flâneuse [flanne-euhze], noun, from the French. Feminine form of flâneur [flanne-euhr], an idler, a dawdling observer, usually found in cities.

Elkin writes that the idea of the flâneur was born in Paris, in the first half of the 19th century. But the term—and the act—applied to men only. The female flâneuse would have to wait until the late 19th century, when women of all classes braved public spaces unaccompanied by a man. With the arrival of the “new woman” in the 1890s, the flâneuse could be seen regularly on city streets walking between home, shops, cafés, and …

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