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Shakespeare and Company

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  801 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Sylvia Beach was intimately acquainted with the expatriate and visiting writers of the Lost Generation, a label that she never accepted. Like moths of great promise, they were drawn to her well-lighted bookstore and warm hearth on the Left Bank. Shakespeare and Company evokes the zeitgeist of an era through its revealing glimpses of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fit ...more
Paperback, 1st Bison Book, New Edition , 230 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by University of Nebraska Press (first published 1956)
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Jan 02, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it

The third book read in my project to learn more about literary expatriates in 1920s and 1930s Paris, Sylvia Beach's memoir was in many ways the most enjoyable reading experience to date. Beach was an American woman who operated an English language lending library and bookstore called Shakespeare & Company on Paris' Left Bank from 1919 to 1941*. During that period, her store was a hub for expatriate writers including Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fizgerald and, most signficantly, Jame
3.5 stars. Often reads as a series of anecdotes, but it's interesting to read about Beach's relationship with Joyce from her own perspective.
Mar 11, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Noël
If I could transport to any period of history, Paris in the 1920s would probably be my first choice. Hanging out in cafes, sipping wine late into the night and discussing the latest works of Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gide--who are also your neighbors, and, if you're very lucky, your acquaintances or friends--would be amazing. Sylvia Beach lived that dream life. Sylvia was an American who moved to Paris and opened a bookshop that specialized in American works. Her store was frequented by all ...more
Mark Victor Young
Apr 18, 2012 Mark Victor Young rated it liked it
This was half of a great book, so I'll give the first half four stars and the latter half two stars. I loved the story of Sylvia and her unlikely bookshop and how she came to publish James Joyce's Ulysses. That was great, as were the stories of the other writers and musicians who frequented Shakespeare and Company in the early twenties. The stories of Joyce and his family were beautiful and helped me understand the man much better.

At a certain point the memoir devolved into a series of short po
Barnaby Thieme
Oct 25, 2014 Barnaby Thieme rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, memoirs
This touching memoir of Beach's years as proprietress of the infamous Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris deserves a place of honor on the bookshelf next to Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast." Any fan of early 20th Century literature and art will be delighted by her intimate reminiscences of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Valéry, Fitzgerald, and especially James Joyce. Her long years' friendship with the latter author and her indefatigable labors on his behalf makes up about a half of this short ...more
Michael Lawrence
Mar 17, 2012 Michael Lawrence rated it it was amazing
I’m a longtime admirer of Sylvia Beach, whose story this is. When I was twenty-one I went to Paris to try my hand at writing while starving. I turned out to be rather good at the second of these. While renting an icy garret at the top of the Hotel Novelty at Odéon, I made frequent visits to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop on the quai at St-Michel. Many visitors over the years have mistaken that shop for the one that coined the name, but the original Shakespeare and Company – a lending libra ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of A Moveable Feast
Shelves: biography-memoir
A most interesting book by a most interesting woman. Sylvia Beach opened the Shakespeare and Company bookstore (and lending library) in 1919 in Paris providing English-language books to American and British ex-pats and European readers. She introduced many to the new writers coming out of the U.S. in the 1920s. Perhaps her most significant accomplishment was being the publisher of "Ulysses" by James Joyce after it had been banned in the England and the U.S. She nurtured Joyce for years and he us ...more
Jun 17, 2015 Barbara rated it liked it
This is a delightful book written by Sylvia Beach about her experiences running her English language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, in Paris. It was the height of the "Lost Generation" expatriate community there and she had close relationships with James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, André Gide, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and countless others. The book is written in a chatty, almost letter-writing style and, just occasionally, gets a little tedious because ...more
Feb 24, 2009 bookczuk rated it liked it
Recommended to bookczuk by: lucybrown
When I read this a while back, I felt like a total dunderhead. I was chagrined at how little I know about American authors of this time period. Oh sure, I know Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. I've never read Ulyseses but I certainly know who Joyce was and a bit about him. Yet there are so many names that are utterly new to me.

I found myself wishing for a bit more personal detail, but that's just me-- I read Ann Landers and Dear Abby because I like the juicy stuff. Were this written today, I know it w
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
Ebook - read via Open Library here.

Sylvia Beach and her bookstore Shakespeare and Company are legendary now - but were also quickly popular in her time, as the bookshop became a meeting place for visitors to stop in and perhaps use its address to forward their mail. It was as much a club and a writers' meeting place as it was a bookstore and lending library.

Since Beach was so immersed in the society of authors, poets, and other famous folk, and often doesn't give you much more than their names a
Sylvia Beach started Shakespeare and Company which I will hopefully one day visit and spend the night in, as long as writing scientific papers counts as being a writer.

The atmosphere of the time in Paris is better captured in A Moveable Feast but Sylvia Beach saw everything first hand and was influential in a lot of it, like actually publishing Ulysses. Her prose is fairly dry and matter of fact, very much the practical American navigating a very worldly life. Her family traveled a lot because
Dec 05, 2009 Ivan rated it it was amazing
Every once in a great while I stumble upon a book I've never heard of and feel as though I've discovered treasure. This is such a book. Though I had heard of Sylvia Beach and her famous book shop/lending library, her memoir "Shakespeare & Company" was unknown to me. In an easy, conversational style, Beach gives the history of her shop and observational portraits of the various artists who treated her establishment as a salon of sorts. These artists included Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, T. S. E ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Narelle rated it liked it
Very much a memoir that reads in the same way that someone tells you a story; at times it flip flops all over the place, some bits of the story are repeated a couple of times and it isn't entirely chronological. She is quite the name-dropper, but I guess that's the point of reading this book. The majority of the book deals with the author's relationship with James Joyce and the ups and downs of publishing his book Ulysses.
This is Beach's memoir of her long time in Paris as bookseller, publisher, and literary den mother; she was friends with writers from Andre Gide to Ernest Hemingway and published Ulysses when no other publisher would touch it. I liked it a lot, but I can see the flaws in it. Beach's focus is always on others, especially Joyce, and I wanted more of her personal history and of her more candid opinions. Fortunately, I had to hand Noel Riley Fitch's excellent Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation(hig ...more
Sep 21, 2007 Sally rated it really liked it
I read this book after visiting the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in Paris. The bookstore is a true used bookstore with floor to ceiling books tumbling everywhere and old chairs about to sit and read.

This was a gathering place in the 20's for those desiring books written in English. It was also a gathering place for the writers of the time and even a few artists. Sylvia Beach was very involved in helping James Joyce get his Ulysses published. His book was banned in the America and secretly
Paul Combs
Jun 21, 2014 Paul Combs rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Ninety-five years ago, American Sylvia Beach opened the now-famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, and her memoir of the same name chronicles the roughly 25 years that her shop was the center of the literary world.

Before delving into the particulars of this wonderful book, it is probably best to clear up any confusion over the store itself. There is still a Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, but it is not the store Sylvia Beach founded. Rather, it one that another expatriate
Melody Ma
Aug 02, 2015 Melody Ma rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow, didn't expect much when I chose to read this book, and very glad I did spend the last 4 days to read it thoroughly. From author's memoir, I learned so much about the renowned writers and poets, such as James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway from a very personal encounter, it's such a nice reading experience. Miss Beach was a very brave American woman who chose to run a bookshop and publisher on the left bank of Pairs started from 1919 till mid 1950s. She was very proud to help James Joyce as his ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Ned rated it it was amazing
An invaluable account of the legendary Paris bookshop written by its owner, Sylvia Beach. Beach is an engaging writer with an incisive understanding of people and a casual prose style. Her insight into the character of Joyce and her adept documentation of her often stressful experience as the publisher of Ulysses takes up much of this book and makes it essential for anyone attempting to understand (or experience) the literary world of 1920's Paris. Beach knew practically every English speaking w ...more
Nov 19, 2015 Mary rated it liked it
The story of Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach, and the Lost Generation has fascinated me for several years. I was anxious to get my hands on this book and read a more intimate and first hand account of it all. This book was not quite what I expected.

The first half is wonderful. You get a great glimpse into Sylvia's decision to open the store/lending library and how she went about it. We see her develop friendships with legendary writers that it almost becomes a "James Joyce and Ernest Hemin
May 07, 2014 Gaby rated it liked it
There isn't too much to say about the book. It's a memoir that briefly recounts Beach's childhood and how she ended up opening an American bookshop in Paris- then continuing in much more detail her work with James Joyce and her relationships with countless other writers/publishers of the era. It was a relatively slow read, because of all the detail and the names- but I did enjoy it. Obviously, this isn't going to be a book for everyone. If you enjoy literary history, or literature from the 1920s ...more
Mar 14, 2015 Corinna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sylvia Beach ist die Tochter eines presbyterianischen Pastors und wird in Baltimore geboren. Sie ist gerade 14 Jahre alt, als ihr Vater nach Paris geschickt wird, um die Students Atelier Reunions zu betreuen. So kommt sie das erste Mal mit Paris in Kontakt und lebt für eine Zeit lang mit ihrer Familie dort. Jahre später lebt Sylvia wieder in Amerika, in Princeton. Jedoch hat die Stadt Paris sie nie wirklich los gelassen, so geht sie 1917 wieder zurück nach Paris. Sylvia hegte großes Interesse an ...more
Bokhandeln Shakespeare and Company är ett slags mecka bland bokhandlar. Den grundades 1919 av Sylvia Beach som en slags boklåda och utvecklades så småningom till en ordentlig bokhandel. Stället var under många år, innan andra världskriget, en slags samlingsplats för vad Gertrude Stein kallade den förlorade generationen av författare (ej att förväxla med de som stupade i kriget). Författare som Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald och T.S. Eliot var bara några av de många författare som hängde p ...more
Mit Sicherheit zeichnet Sylvia Beach ein sehr schmeichelhaftes, vielleicht manchmal allzu schmeichelhaftes Bild der vielen Berühmtheiten, die in ihrer Buchhandlung ein und ausgingen. Man vergleiche nur das Buch "Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank", in dem alle Liebschaften dieses Zirkels genüsslich ausgebreitet werden. Aber das Buch ist sehr amüsant geschrieben und bringt einem viele Autoren und deren Werk nahe: Da geht es um den Baby badenden Hemingway; Joyce, der sich unfreiwillig ...more
Valerie J K
Nov 18, 2013 Valerie J K rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon this book after searching for more information about Shakespeare & Company, a bookshop I visited in Paris last spring. The book is written by the original bookstore's owner, an American woman named Sylvia Beach. It reads more as a diary about the shop in Paris from the 1920's - early 40's, and Beach touches on stories about her self proclaimed "best customer" Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, etc. Beach was the origina ...more
It was probably a mistake to read this immediately after the exhaustingly long and detailed book by Noël Riley Fitch, because Fitch had obviously had a lot of information and inspiration from this, so I had to read a lot of the same stuff all over again. Maybe I should have read the memoirs first? Then again, some of the things didn't quite happen in the same way as Beach remembers them, so perhaps it was more useful to find out the truth first to get the events into the right perspective.

Camille McCarthy
Dec 23, 2013 Camille McCarthy rated it liked it
This book is about the founding of a small English-language bookstore in Paris called "Shakespeare and Company" which is still around today. It is a very nice shop and I had no idea of some of the history behind it- the owner, Sylvia Beach, managed to publish "Ulysses" and kept James Joyce going when he had no other income. This was the only author she ever published however, as it was difficult for her to keep her store and lending library going and honestly she doesn't seem to have made anyth ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Maggie rated it really liked it
Shelves: lost-generation
This was a really enjoyable read. I visited the bookstore in Paris this past November but didn't know all of the history behind it. I spent most of this book wishing I could have been in Paris in the many famous and great authors (especially Joyce and Hemingway) were friends with Beach and just dropped in on a regular basis.

Because of these amazing customers, much of the book is name dropping. To someone who appreciates the perhaps lesser known today but still great authors such as D
Nov 18, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
Sylvia Beach turns up in many books about 1920s Paris, including A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. She has a role in the new mystery by Laurie R. King, The Bones of Paris, which takes place in Paris in 1929. It was the latter book that inspired me to read the two previous books plus Shakespeare and Company by Beach herself. It was an extraordinary time and place in the history of art and literature, and I was fascinated by how it was ...more
Jun 07, 2007 Writerlibrarian rated it really liked it
Paris. The 1920's, right after the first war. The memoirs of one of the members of what is now known as the "Lost Generation". American writers, poets, painters, musicians that found themselves in Paris at that time. They all at one point entered Sylvia Beach's bookshop "Shakespeare & Company". Hemingway, Stein... but the focus of Beach's professional life was Joyce. She published Ulysses when no one would. She worked herself to death for the man. She mothered him, supported him financially. ...more
Two Readers in Love
Ms. Beach, in her own words, transports you to an American bookshop in Paris between the wars. She shares her correspondence and anecdotes from Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gide, Pound, Stein, and other luminaries, and most importantly, the memories of her own unconventional life.

I love this book; if I was forced to travel back to this turbulent time, I think this is who I'd want to be.
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  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • Memoirs of Montparnasse
  • Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
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  • Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930
  • For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus
  • Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story
Born Nancy Woodbridge Beach
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