Friday, 19 November 2010

Paris (2): Shakespeare and Company

It’s a few steps back from the left bank of the Seine, a couple of stone’s throws from Notre Dame. The present Shakespeare & Company was founded in 1951 by George Whitman (now aged 96, and living adjacent to the store); it’s named after the bookshop opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach (the original publisher of Ulysses, when it was banned in the US and the UK) and closed in 1941 during the German occupation of Paris. Sylvia is also, and not by accident, the name of George Whitman’s daughter, who now runs the store.

The photos above, taken (by Lauren Goldenberg) last Monday evening, show Sylvia and then, in the order they read, Beverley Bie Brahic (translator of the CBe edition of Francis Ponge, Unfinished Ode to Mud), Gabriel Josipovici (Only Joking) and Wiesiek Powaga (translator of Grabinski and Bursa).

There are some nights when, prompted by the mix of books, fellowship, wine, you think (next year Budapest/ Prague/ San Francisco? and what is going to happen to that vacant premises in the Goldhawk Road, the one with the split levels and the big slow ceiling fans that would make a great bookshop?): why not?

More photos here.


Tony said...

A favourite haunt of yesteryear: wish I'd been there. Let me know any time you're going back again.
Incidentally, the original Shakespeare & Co was in the rue Dupuytren for a couple of years before moving round the corner to 12, rue de l'Odeon. When Sylvia Beach got into financial difficulties in the 1930s, Andre Gide set up the Friends of Shakespeare & Co to support her. Writers who gave free readings there included Hemingway and Stephen Spender, jointly back from the Spanish Civil War, and T.S. Eliot, who flew over from London specially.

charles said...

Oh, I'll be going back, I'm not going to leave it for another couple of decades (what have I been DOING?). Possibly the best thing about the place is that, despite all this history behind it and tourists popping in with touristy questions, it really doesn't feel like a heritage-industry thing at all; it's fully alive. And I'll let you know - except now this net shorthand thing is confusing, and I'm not sure whether I'm talking to Tony A or Tony L or Tony W. W, I'm guessing.

Tony said...

Tony A.

charles said...

Of course. Apologies. Should have known: you even wrote a book about American writers in Paris.

Elise said...

Please can I join you next time too?