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Shakespeare and Company [Paperback]

Sylvia Beach , James Laughlin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 1991 0803260970 978-0803260979 Reprint
Sylvia Beach was intimately acquainted with the expatriate and visiting writers of the Lost Generation, a label that she never accepted. Like moths of great promise, they were drawn to her well-lighted bookstore and warm hearth on the Left Bank. Shakespeare and Company evokes the zeitgeist of an era through its revealing glimpses of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, Andre Gide, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, D. H. Lawrence, and others already famous or soon to be.
 
In his introduction to this new edition, James Laughlin recalls his friendship with Sylvia Beach. Like her bookstore, his publishing house, New Directions, is considered a cultural touchstone.

Frequently Bought Together

Shakespeare and Company + Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties + Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
Price for all three: $44.94

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In 1919 Sylvia Beach "opened an American bookshop in Paris called Shakespeare and Company. During the following two decades it became practically a clearing house for writers of this vital post-1918 period. When no publisher would touch her friend James Joyce's Ulysses, Miss Beach published it, in 1922, under her shop imprint. . . . Headquarters for the expatriate American writers, the shop was also a favorite stopping-off place for Gide, Valéry, and other faithful international friends and customers."—San Francisco Chronicle
(San Francisco Chronicle)

"Miss Beach's book is intimate, not scholarly, and thus full of interesting information. Her reminiscences are literally an index of everybody in the twenties, and she knew them all."—Janet Flanner, New Yorker
(Janet Flanner New Yorker)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803260970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803260979
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare in L'Oeuvre November 11, 2000
Format:Paperback
This, a book about books, is one of my favorites. In just 220 pages, bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore "Shakespeare and Company," paints a vivid portrait of the social, cultural, and especially , in Paris.
The store opened in November 1919, offering works of T.S. Elliot, Joyce, Chaucer, and others, a variety of literary reviews, and photographs of Wilde and Whitman. It ran first as kind of lending library, and almost immediately the many native and expatriate writers of Europe were borrowing books--and giving her their own new writings. Very early customers included Gide, Maurois, American poet Robert McAlmon , "Mr. and Mrs. Pound, " and the following couple:
"Not long after I opened my bookshop, two women came walking down the rue Dupuytren. One of them, with a very fine face, was stout, wore a long robe, and, on her head, a most becoming top of a basket. She was accompanied by a slim, dark whimsical woman: she reminded me of a gypsy. They were Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas."
Sylvia Beach writes clearly, candidly, and fondly of her many visitors and friends in prewar Europe, especially the 1920's ( she and her friends dismantled the shop when the Nazis threatened to confiscate her books in 1941). She evokes an entire era though richly told and plentiful anecdotes. She writes of encounters and friendships with such notables as Sherwood Anderson, Katherine Anne Porter, Satie, Bryher, H.D., Paul Valery, Valery Larbaud, D. H. Lawrence, and Hemingway (at the end of the book, Hemingway liberates "the wine cellar at the Ritz" (Hemingway's words) as he and his company try to rid the Rue l'Odeon of the remaining German snipers.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account of a literary life May 29, 2000
By Jerry
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
These memoirs by Sylvia Beach--originally published in the 1950s--are reprinted here exactly as published. Ms. Beach became one of the most prominent Americans in Paris during the twenties and thirties by opening a bookstore called "Shakespeare & Company" (the title of this book). But to refer to her as a "bookstore manager" misses the point completely. Shakespeare & Company was a meeting place for many of the literary luminaries living in Paris at the time, including James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Her personal account places the reader in the center of their lives in a way no biographer looking back eighty years could dare to accomplish. Most notably, though, is Ms. Beach's support of James Joyce. When Joyce's masterpiece "Ulysses" looked as if it might not be published because of the fear of censorship exhibited by some of the established British and American publishing companies, Ms. Beach took it upon herself to take Joyce's finished manuscript to a printer in Dijon, and published the book herself, thereby ensuring that the world would experience this novel as Joyce intended. In fact, she exhibited admirable patience by allowing Joyce to correct proofs innumerable times and to increase the size by one third after it had been initially typeset by hand.
These memoirs are anecdotal and readable and the story moves along quickly. The only criticism I have, however, is that having read subsequent works, such as the Fitch book on Sylvia Beach, there were a few occasions in this volume when the editors back in the 1950s cut sections of her manuscript that dealt with "controversial" subjects, such as the relationship between Ms. Beach and the French bookseller Adrienne Monnier. One would hope at some time a publisher might afford Ms. Beach the opportunity she gave to James Joyce: to have the book published as she intended.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reason the "lost generation" was never truly lost. September 14, 2002
Format:Paperback
Sylvia Beach, with eyes and ears that missed little in the way of nuance and subtlety, as much compassion for her fellows as passion for their writing and her bookshop, and a plucky all-American, "the gal can do it" spirit, wordpaints very likely one of the most accurate portraits of literary and artistic ex-patriates in Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. While they do seem a jolly crew, Beach is unflinching in her descriptions of the tiffs and teapot tempests that regularly flew. While such works as Hemingway's MOVEABLE FEAST, McAlmon's BEING GENIUSES TOGETHER, and Janet Flanner's PARIS WAS YESTERDAY are interesting and viable, each in its own way, Sylvia's little book out-sparkles them all for wit and humane truth. A priceless gem among books about books, readers and writers.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare would be proud April 10, 2005
Format:Paperback
What a wonderful find! This book is truly a treasure and made me wish I had been an author in Paris during the 20's. Sylvia Beach ran her library Shakespeare and Company on the left bank on Rue l'Odeon for many years and served as the location for English language books in Paris. During that time she worked closely with Joyce and personally handled not only publishing Ulysses but also took care of all his mail and the shipping of his books to various customers around the world.

There is a rather funny scene she describes. Because it was so hard to get Ulysses into America (since it was banned), Sylvia had a dilemma concerning distribution. Hemingway, who proclaims himself Sylvia's "best customer", tells her not to worry and within a few days he comes back to let her know he has a friend who has moved to Canada who will personally bring the books into America by ferry, stuffed in his pants.

I cannot say enough what a beautiful book this is. Beach is as gifted as the authors she esteemed and brings to life a world you wish you could climb into.

I would also highly recommend A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway in conjunction to this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great survey of the cultural figures of the interwar period.
This may be evidence of obliviousness on my part, but I'm fairly certain I had never heard anyone mention Sylvia Beach and her "lending library" until I read an introduction to The... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Mostly about James Joyce
I was expecting a bit more about Hemingway but found the whole book fascinating. Someday I'll read Ulysses because of the struggle I just read about to bring it to the public.
Published 5 months ago by jay arrANGER
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary reminiscences
I bought this book after staying at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, where I found a copy in their library. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jonathan A. Hayes
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating History for Bibliophiles
This book is a wonderful written first person account of the 1919-1941 Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris (after which the 1951 Shakespeare and Company Bookshop still in... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Cindy Reinhardt
3.0 out of 5 stars Sylvia Beach's Paris
While it must be said that Beach herself was not the best of writers, her world certainly revolved around many that were and even her somewhat clumsy literary style cannot detract... Read more
Published 17 months ago by rebekka
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare & Company
.

Sylvia Beach's memoire shimmers with intelligence, good-natured humor, gentle discretion, and a pinch of mischief. Read more
Published on June 13, 2012 by Kim Burdick
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winner, About Winners
Hemingway's A Moveable Feast got me going with memoirs about the Lost Generation in Paris. I've since read Morley Callaghan's The Last Summer in Paris, Gertrude Stein's The... Read more
Published on June 4, 2010 by C. Ebeling
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare and Company
This book arrived in excellent condition and during the time it was anticipated. It is a wonderful book of memoirs by Sylvia Beach about her book store and lending library in Paris... Read more
Published on April 7, 2008 by David Bethune
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant, Chatty Memoir
I've been carrying a first edition of this book around from state to state for several years, and never really quite got around to reading it, as I was more involved with books by... Read more
Published on December 30, 2004 by Scott Hercher
4.0 out of 5 stars not quite what I expected
good, though not quite what I expected, September 12, 2004

I purchased this book knowing little about Sylvia Beach and her bookstore Shakespeare and Company, but hoping... Read more
Published on October 4, 2004 by Shannon
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