- Paperback: 268 pages
- Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803260970
- ISBN-13: 978-0803260979
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shakespeare and Company Reprint Edition
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From the Back Cover
This book 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.
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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. Perhaps her closest relationship was with James Joyce, and she tells many stories, both amusing and sad, about him. (Sylvia Beach published the first edition of the highly controversial "Ulysses" in 1922.) The book feels intimate; one feels as if M. Beach has let one into her confidence. Highly enjoyable, fascinating, personal--and ultimately thrilling.
Sylvia Beach's memoire shimmers with intelligence, good-natured humor, gentle discretion, and a pinch of mischief. Her love for her friends and clients is evident on every page. Beach focuses on what interests her and rarely talks about herself or the wars.
Hemingway, Andre Gide, Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, Archibald MacLeish, Thornton Wilder, Ezra Pound, James Joyce; all the figures of any good Twentieth-Century Literature class appear in "Shakespeare and Company."
James Joyce is the major thread around which this tale is spun, and Beach's respect for him is evident. We find him peering through multiple pairs of glasses and a magnifying glass; leaning out the window to watch bombs dropping during an air raid; trembling with fear over a big dog; taking his family to the Opera, and endlessly changing the drafts of 'Ulysses.' Beach speculates that Joyce's unusual love for and ability with words is based partly on his acute sense of hearing, highly developed to compensate for his very bad eye sight.
There are very charming images of other friends and colleagues, including Ernest Hemingway and his little son " Bumby", who loved to visit "Sylver Beach's."
Beach mentions being threatened by a Nazi officer who wants a valuable book from her window, but does not dwell on her panicky feelings. She merely states that her friends helped her close her shop, and barely mentions her six months in a German internment camp. She speaks little of her subsequent release and hiding place.
The book ends with Liberation of Paris and the welcome sight of Ernest Hemingway who picks her up, swings her around and kisses her as people in the streets and windows cheer.
A delightful book.