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A respectable and resourceful young American woman christened Nancy Woodbridge Beach (1887-1962) would become famous as the revolutionary publisher of Ulysses. and proprietor of Shakespeare and Company, the bohemian Left Bank lending-library and bookstore to the literary stars. Sylvia Beach left behind a trail of correspondence with major figures: Joyce, of course,and his ever-patient benefactor, Harriet Weaver; Gertrude Stein; Marianne Moore; Hemingway;the Fitzgeralds; Ezra Pound; William Carlos Williams; Richard Wright; and Alfred Knopf among them. Beach's most historically significant letter appears as an appendix—a protest againstthe pirating of Ulysses by one Samuel Roth, signed by dozens of noted literati, from T.S. Eliot to Jose Ortega y Gasset, which created an international sensation and serves as a reminder of the centrality of intellectual proprietorship long before the Internet age. Letters about her falling out with the Joyce camp will be of interest to today's scholars. While overall, many of these letters are slight, others reveal the difficulties faced head on by this patron saint of independent booksellers who altered the course of expression in print. The footnotes and editing by Walsh, an assistant professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College, are top-drawer. 30 photos. (Apr.)
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The patron saint of independent booksellers everywhere and the spunky proprietress of Shakespeare and Company, the famed Left Bank bookshop, Beach was a one-woman clearinghouse for literary modernism, 'a culture hero of the avant-garde,' as Keri Walsh writes in her fine introduction to this collection.... Beach was an animated correspondent.(Matthew Price Bookforum)
Reveal[s] the difficulties faced head on by this patron saint of independent booksellers who altered the course of expression in print.(Publishers Weekly)
Academics and students interested in literary culture, especially of writers of the Lost Generation, will find this book valuable.(Library Journal)
This lovely book, scholarly and well annotated, is a pleasure to hold. It documents what Beach once called 'my missionary endeavor' and also what she called, correctly, her 'interesting life.'(Dwight Garner New York Times)
The consummate portrait of an incredible woman.(Robert J. Wiersema The Vancouver Sun)
Keri Walsh has produced a commendable work.(Diane Leach Pop Matters)
With The Letters of Sylvia Beach... we now have an unvarnished view of life from the bookshop floor.(John Palattella The Nation)
Keri Walsh's compact and revealing volume introduces Beach as a character's character(New Criterion)
Beach's letters are crisp, detailed, patient, and articulate. Editor Walsh's meticulously orchestrated scholarly apparatus--footnotes, appendices, glossary, and index--all work well to enhance the material.(David Emblidge Publishing Research Quarterly)
Beach is an entertaining companion, a wonderful person to spend time with... readers...will be quick to celebrate this editorial achievement.(Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada) See all Editorial Reviews