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Shakespeare and Company Reprint Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been to Shakespeare and Company. It's a fascinating place. However, I wish I could go back in time to the original store and see all of these amazing authors and musicians... Read morePublished 1 month ago by S. Wilshe
I am so enjoying her voice- what a fresh and natural perspective Sylvia Beach offers and an intriguing look on Paris of her time and book culture. Read morePublished 10 months ago by km
I didn't expect this to be literature and I wasn't disappointed in that respect. The narration covers Sylvia's admiration for James Joyce in detail, especially in how she helped... Read morePublished 16 months ago by R. D. Mcgraw
There was a problem but the seller went beyond expectations to make it right. Very happy with everything bPublished 16 months ago by Jim
Excellent book about Paris from 1920-40, when all the soon to be greats were there. It's a wonderful book about Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company. I loved it. Read morePublished 18 months ago by kitty kat