Flânerie, the urban wandering that leads sometimes to observation, philosophy and writing, is a pursuit usually associated with men. But there have been, and are, flâneuses as well as flâneurs. Book of the Week on Radio 4 from tomorrow morning is Flâneuse: Women Walk the City (Chatto & Windus) by Lauren Elkin. First she describes her own strolls along the pavements of Paris and New York; later in the week she follows in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf, Sophie Calle and George Sand. Elkin introduced her book with a piece last weekend for The Guardian.
The producer of the Radio 4 adaptation, by the way, is Duncan Minshull, a keen walker himself and editor of the lovely anthology While Wandering: A Walking Companion published a couple of years ago by Vintage. Between “Setting off” and “Final steps”, it takes in contributions from some 200 writers, ranging from Jane Austen to Redmond O’Hanlon, touches on subjects from practicalities to companions, and tramps between mountain and metropolis. And it’s not too heavy for the backpack.