Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shakespeare and Company

Last week John and I wandered through the Latin Quarter and ended up at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.
This is the famous literary shrine of American, Sylvia Beach, who was the original publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses, and her bookstore has been a haunt for poets and writers since the 1940's. We love bookstores and always visit as many as we can in any city.
Apparently the bookstore staff are made up of young writers who man the shop in return for free room and board in the building. Romantic, eh?
Inside it's a classic independent bookstore reminiscent of City Lights Books in San Francisco and antiquarian bookstores around the world with rabbit-warren rooms, books up to the ceiling
and comfortable old furniture for browsing.
They still have readings by current writers as well. On another evening the audience spilled out onto the street to hear James Shapiro read from his new book on Shakespeare, Contested Will. Shapiro was fascinating. This review by British novelist Hilary Mantel will give you the flavour.
We missed it on our first trips to Paris, but it is easy to find. It is just across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral. We love the Shakespeare and Company motto: "Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise". How City Lights is that?!

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