Brighton – St Pancras – Eurostar – Paris
Shakespeare and Company was first was opened by Sylvia Beach on 17 November 1919 at 8 rue Dupuytren, before moving to larger premises in the in 1922. During the 1920s writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford gathered there. It closed in 1940 during the German occupation and never re-opened.
This one was opened in 1951 by George Whitman and was originally named “Le Mistral” but renamed “Shakespeare and Company” in 1964 in tribute to Sylvia Beach’s bookstore. Today, it serves both as a regular bookstore and as a reading library, specializing in English language literature. The shop has featured in several films including Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris.’
It is famous for supporting writers even today and I found myself wishing I was impoverished, young and from the US. I could then have asked to stay rent free to write every day and perhaps to get started on a first novel. Apparently Jeannette Winterson did just that, what a brilliant experience for anyone!
Anyway, even the likes of us can spend a happy hour or so browsing. Discoveries at every turn in this building with so many nooks and crannies.
The first floor library has floor to ceiling secondhand books and chairs, in various stages of disintegration, in which to sit. These include two pink velvet chairs from a cinema, some wooden pews, maybe from a church and an ancient gold edged chair that had seen better days.
Downstairs houses the main book shop. I discovered a new book featuring drawings by Sylvia Plath which also included some of her touching letters. Apparently she had studied art and some of the drawings were of the rooftops of Paris in the 50s. Her daughter, who had presented her mother’s poems at the South Bank in London (see earlier post on that), had written the foreword.
Just a few more pics from walking the streets of Paris before it was time to come home.
Yes, and later on, with French TV being as bad if not worse than British TV, I still had some time for a bit of a fling with Steve Kowit. Remember I had taken his poetry manual to read on the train. Well I read it all and even tried a few exercises. Alan didn’t mind of course, he had after all sneaked in two of his railway history books!
Lastly in a weak moment, I even bought a touristy souvenir – a musical box with a picture of Chat Noir that plays a few bars of ‘La Vie en Rose’, my late parents’ favourite song.
Link to the song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g4NiHef4Ks
Oh the joys of Paris!