Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart

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9791096101009: Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart

A copiously illustrated account of the famed Paris bookstore on its 65th anniversary

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?”

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About the Author:

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.

Review:

With a wealth of archival documents and photographs from Whitman’s collection, and first-hand accounts of encounters and stays at the shop by visitors and residents specifically collected for this publication, the book is a memoir of a place with a magical and warm personality all its own. (Liberty N. Megan Hyperallergic)

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)

An English-language bookshop founded by George Whitman on the banks of the Seine in Paris has been hosting writers and selling the occasional book for 65 years. Krista Halverson explores the history of a countercultural institution and the legacy of Sylvia Beach. (The Guardian)

...affectionate tribute...makes you long to live la vie bohème in Paris. (Newsday)

...the biography reads like a multi-faceted oral history and is told in many layers: colored photographs, tumbleweed biographies, recountings from former employees and writers-in-residence. The story it tells is as varied, unique, and romantic as the shop is. (Kelsey Ford The Millions)

With a community over 65 years old comes a great history and an even greater archive... Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart not only examines the bookstore's presence within the city over time, but features works by acclaimed artists associated with the site, like Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ethan Hawke, Robert Stone and Jeanette Winterson, among others. (Michael Valinsky OUT Magazine)

Shakespeare and Company, the small, crumbling bookshop on Paris's Left Bank, may be the most famous bookstore in the world... Conceived as a 'memoir' instead of a history, the project is essentially a rigorous attempt to explain what, exactly, Shakespeare and Company is. (James McAuley Washington Post)

Drawing on never-before-seen archives, it's the first book to share the full story of the legendary shop founded by Whitman's late father, George, an American expat, in 1951. A decade-by-decade narrative is interwoven with photographs, newspaper articles, poems, diary entries, and reminiscences by Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Ian Rankin, Ethan Hawke, and others who have crossed the threshold of this literary landmark. (Shannon McKenna Schmidt Shelf Awareness)

To call Shakespeare and Company a bookstore doesn't do it justice. The Paris landmark is a literary salon and an unconventional hotel where guests, called Tumbleweeds, help run the shop. Now the English-language bookstore has published its first title. Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, a glorious volume thick with old photographs, newspaper clippings, and reminiscences. Many celebrated writers including James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, and Anais Nin considered the shop their home away from home. (Jan Gardner Boston Globe)

A new history on one of the world's great bookshops. (Lithub)

Edited with love with Krista Halverson, [this] is the nearest thing you'll get to this wonderful book shop on Paris' Left Bank without actually crossing the Channel... Order the book and that will tide you over until your next- or your first- visit. (Erica Wagner Harper's Bazaar)

This profusely illustrated 65th-anniversary tribute to Shakespeare and Company, the renowned Left Bank bookstore and mecca for 20th-century literati, is delectable eye candy for lovers of books and reading. (Publishers Weekly)

It’s gritty, indulgent, wild, perfect and pure inspiration. A must-have for anyone who believes in the power of the independent bookstore. (Kate Layte Lit Hub)

Now, much to the delight of its many customers and occasional tenants, the shop’s history has been compiled into a book all of its own, entitled Shakespeare and Company Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart – a satisfyingly weighty hardback tome which places poetry, handwritten notes and even music scores side by side with biography and literary extracts in a chronological order so charming that it hardly seems possible that it can be so extensive. (Another Magazine)

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