Book Review: Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin


When I look up the oxford dictionary definition of flaneur it reads “A man who saunters around observing society”, but, when I search for the feminine flaneuse I’m left with “no exact matches.” Elkin, a self-identifying ‘flaneuse’, takes up issue with the lack of recognition for the female-flaneuse, who has seemingly been written out of the history books, and looks to the difficulties and questions of visibility that obstruct the freedom of women desiring simply to ‘saunter’ the streets as their male counterparts are allowed to do. Looking to Virginia Woolf, George Sand, Agnes Varda and Sophie Calle amongst others, Elkin endeavours to carve out a space for the modern-day flaneuse by recognising those that came before her. There are easy parallels to be made between Elkin and Rebecca Solnit as Flaneuse carefully weaves together topics of feminism, art and culture, historical events, and personal anecdotes, with travel writing in an ode to city-dwelling and city-strolling. “Space is not neutral. Space is a feminist issue.” 

- Alex