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Where For Art Thou Shakespeare & Company?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Darlings, I would love to introduce you to one of my favorite places in Paris, The 5th Arrondisement. As you wander around the beauty of Notre Dame why not take a stroll across the street? Among a smörgåsbord of diverse cultural cuisine on a bustling fun street, here you will also stumble upon the world famous hole in the wall bookstore, Shakespeare & Company. Now for any bibliophile, like myself, you WILL be in Heaven. Serving as not only a bookstore but also a relaxing place to read, all day if you'd like, it specializes in English Language Literature and has a fascinating history. Now, as you all know I can't resist a unique boutique, but add a complex and fascinating story like this one and you will easily see why I am in love with this shop!

Originally started by Sylvia Beach, and expatriate from New Jersey, S&Co. has been around since 1919. Not always in its originally cozy corner along the Seine, before the last World War it was on the Rue de l'Odeon, and frequented daily by the greats such as, Ernest Hemmingway, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. S&Co at the time was the center of Anglo-American literary culture and repeatedly housed books that were banned in the UK and America. It closed in 1941 after, allegedly, Beach refused to sell a last copy of a Joyce novel to a German soldier.

But it lives on now, thanks to George Whitman, a Massachusetts boy who merged it with his book shop on left bank after the death of Sylvia Beach in 1951. George calls the bookstore a "socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore". The store also has 13 beds and over the years has housed some 40,000 young writers, called Tumbleweeds, who earn their keep by working in the shop a couple hours a day. George welcomes you to stay as long as you want and prop up your feet upstairs and read everything in the store, the only thing he asks in return is a one page essay about your life, he even provides a typing booth, complete with an old fashioned typewriter for you to tell your story on! At 96 years old, he remains the figure head of the shop but has past the legend onto his daughter, what an incredible legacy to keep alive.

*historic info is thanks to wikipedia and shakespeareandcompany.com*

Pretty amazing isn't it mes cheries?

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