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10.25.2005 

shakespeare and company


Shakespeare and Company, is a bookstore located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris's Left Bank. Shakespeare and Company serves as a bookstore and also a lending library, specializing in English-language literature. The upstairs also serves as a makeshift dormitory for travelers, known as "tumbleweeds," who earn their keep by working in the shop for a couple of hours each day.

The bookstore's most famous proprietor was Sylvia Beach, who ran the shop at 12 rue de l'Odon, from 1919 to 1941. During this era, the store was considered to be a center of Anglo/American literary culture in Paris. The shop was often visited by authors belonging to the "lost generation" such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. The contents of the store were considered high quality and reflected Beach's own literary taste. Shakespeare and Company, as well as its literary denizens, was repeatedly mentioned in Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Patrons could buy or rent books like D. H. Lawrence's controversial Lady Chatterley's Lover, which had been banned in England and the United States.

It was Beach who published Joyce's book, Ulysses, in 1922. The book was subsequently banned in the United States and United Kingdom. Shakespeare and Company published several other editions of Ulysses under its imprint in later years.

The original Shakespeare and Company was closed in December 1941, due to the occupation of France by the axis powers during World War II. The store at rue de l'Odon never re-opened.

In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened in Paris' left bank by American George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Much like its predecessor (which was at a different location), the store served as a focal point for literary culture in bohemian, left-bank Paris. Upon Sylvia Beach's death, the store's name was changed to Shakespeare and Company. In the 1950's, the shop served as a base for many of the writers of the beat generation like Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William Burroughs. Whitman's daughter, Sylvia, now assists in the running of the shop. This store continues to operate into the present at 37 rue de la Bcherie, near Place St. Michel and steps from the Seine River.

there is a bookshop in Berkeley, Calif., of the same name. I have a bookmark from there that I really like -- it has a great Shakespeare quote on it:

"A beggar's book outworths a noble's blood."

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