Author(s): Krista Halverson ed.
A copiously illustrated history of the famed Rive Gauche Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company, home to a literary circle of avant-garde Americans in Paris -- including Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs This first-ever history of the legendary bohemian bookstore in Paris interweaves essays and poetry from dozens of writers associated with the shop--Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ethan Hawke, Robert Stone and Jeanette Winterson, among others--with hundreds of never-before-seen archival pieces, including photographs of James Baldwin, William Burroughs and Langston Hughes, plus a foreword by the celebrated British novelist Jeanette Winterson and an epilogue by Sylvia Whitman, the daughter of the store’s founder, George Whitman. The book has been edited by Krista Halverson, director of the newly founded Shakespeare and Company publishing house. George Whitman opened his bookstore in a tumbledown 16th-century building just across the Seine from Notre-Dame in 1951, a decade after the original Shakespeare and Company had closed. Run by Sylvia Beach, it had been the meeting place for the Lost Generation and the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses. (This book includes an illustrated adaptation of Beach’s memoir.) Since Whitman picked up the mantle, Shakespeare and Company has served as a home-away-from-home for many celebrated writers, from Jorge Luis Borges to Ray Bradbury, A.M. Homes to Dave Eggers, as well as for young authors and poets. Visitors are invited not only to read the books in the library and to share a pot of tea, but sometimes also to live in the bookstore itself--all for free. More than 30,000 people have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, fulfilling Whitman’s vision of a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Through the prism of the shop’s history, the book traces the lives of literary expats in Paris from 1951 to the present, touching on the Beat Generation, civil rights, May ’68 and the feminist movement--all while pondering that perennial literary question, “What is it about writers and Paris?”
Even if you have never entered Shakespeare and Company, this book evokes redolent mustiness, the creaking and crinking of readers shifting in their chairs, the sound of iconic authors turning pages as they read to a rapt audience. It is the familiarity of imagination transporting you to times and places you may or may not have been, and in doing so a sense of this place's personality becomes undeniably present, so much so that you might feel you were there too when Italo Calvino and Pablo Neruda drank wine from empty tuna tins.--Buzz Poole "Lithub "
Krista Halverson is the director of Shakespeare and Company bookstore's publishing venture. Previously, she was the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, the art and literary quarterly published by Francis Ford Coppola, which has won several National Magazine Awards for Fiction and numerous design prizes. She was responsible for the magazine's art direction, working with guest designers including Lou Reed, Kara Walker, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zaha Hadid, Wim Wenders and Tom Waits, among others.
Jeanette Winterson's first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published in 1985. In 1992 she was one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. She has won numerous awards and is published around the world. Her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, was an international bestseller. Her latest novel, The Gap of Time, is a "cover version" of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.
Sylvia Whitman is the owner of Shakespeare and Company bookstore, which her father opened in 1951. She took on management of the shop in 2004, when she was 23, and now co-manages the bookstore with her partner, David Delannet. Together they have opened an adjoining cafe, as well as launched a literary festival, a contest for unpublished novellas and a publishing arm.