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Shakespeare and Company Paperback – October 1, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0803260979 ISBN-10: 0803260970 Edition: Reprint

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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: $42.83

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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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This, a book about books, is one of my favorites.
M. Allen Greenbaum
I've since read Morley Callaghan's The Last Summer in Paris, Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and now Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company.
C. Ebeling
The book is an easy read -- certainly no literary masterpiece, though I doubt it was intended as one.
Scott Hercher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 81 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 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 By Jerry on May 29, 2000
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 By Stephen Richmond VINE VOICE on 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 By H. Proulx on 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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