August 2, 2007

Kissell on Kessel

Shortly after we arrived in Paris, I began noticing how many of the streets are named after writers, and I jokingly asked Morgen what it would take for the city of Paris to name a street after me.

As it turns out, they don’t have to. All they need to do is correct a small misspelling and a couple of dates.


Yes, that’s me standing under an actual sign for rue Joseph Kessel, a couple of blocks away from Bercy Village, which is where we went last night to see Ratatouille (about which we’ll be saying more, but briefly: loved it loved it loved it). The street was formerly named rue de Dijon.

Now, the similarity in names alone would have been freaky enough, but they even got the occupation right: Écrivain et journalist (writer and journalist). And the curiosities don’t end there. A quick search for Joseph Kessel in the Wikipedia tells me that he was born in Argentina (as Interesting Thing of the Day readers know, I’m quite fond of Argentina). Moreover, Kessel’s father “was a Lithuanian doctor of Jewish origin.” Now, my father is neither Jewish nor a doctor, but there is some evidence that several generations back, my paternal ancestors were from either Lithuania or Latvia—though we also believe that at that time, the family name was Kissellovich or some such.

Kessel is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery; I’ll certainly have to visit his grave one of these days and take another picture. As for me, upon my demise, a modest shrine in Père-Lachaise is all I ask.

(Update: Shortly after posting this, I saw another interesting example: Kissell in front of Kisselle.)

3 Responses to “Kissell on Kessel”

  1. Geoffrey R. Staines said:

    Liked the picture! Last time we were in Paris, we took a number of pictures of ourselves standing at street corners so we could see the street names on the blue signs. The closest I could find to my name was rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, near the Jardins des plantes.