Shakespeare & Company... on the Left Bank of Paris...

A... passionate...

Love... affair...

Paris' Left Bank... and literature...

An intimate relationship... that time has not diminished...

Upon entering... the quaintly charming Shakespeare & Company bookstore... we were immediately aware that we were in the presence of literary greats... artists and writers in Paris... dubbed by Gertrude Stein as "The Lost Generation" where the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray... spent happy times at the history-crammed book store... which was... and still is... the epicentre of "Anglo-American" Literary culture in Paris.

The original library... founded by the American Sylvia Beach... was also a publisher and boarding house for... young talent and aspiring writers.  So pivotal was this admirable institution's presence on the Left Bank of Paris at the time... it was mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's novel... "A Moveable Feast".

Shakespeare & Company closed its doors during the devastatingly traumatic period of World War II... but fortunately... was reopened in its current existence by the affable... George Whitman... born on December 12, 1913 (died on December 14... 2011... aged 98)...

Whitman who diversely called himself a communist, a utopian and a humanist... supervised the place with a sense of great affection and enjoyment for his beloved books and budding writers... welcoming his visitors with large-print messages on the walls... one of which was...

Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise”...

A labour of love... indeed...

His daughter Sylvia... (named after the original founder Sylvia Beach)... continues to run her father's bookstore imaginatively... with great love and pride.

Having browsed... mulled... and marvelled through the book-filled rooms...

Wandering... moving... meandering... from one tiny room into the next and the next... and the next... then climbing up the most darling... old wooden stairway to the second low-ceilinged floor... we discover a charming den... a little enclave where young people were reading... posting little notes of their imagination... thoughts... hopes... and aspirations to or about their heroes... their favourite writers.

Henry James... Mark Twain... (whose famous novel "The Innocents Abroad" was the subject of my College thesis)... were staring at me "face-à-face" from one of the myriad shelves... among many other amazing writers... the brilliant Hemingway... Gertrude Stein... Henry Miller... Anaïs Nin... D.H. Lawrence... James Joyce... whose book "Ulysses"... was published by Sylvia Beach in 1922...

As well as Lawrence Durrell... Samuel Beckett... James Baldwin... Allen Ginsberg... who were also George Whitman's close friends... rows and rows... and more rows... of books in all shapes... sizes... and colours... decorating the walls of the adorable tiny rooms... of this incredibly fascinating bookstore.

We thirstily drank in and absorbed... the heady atmosphere of culture and literature... the sense of times gone by... of history in the making...

With an intense modern presence... a dynamic vibrancy of today...

Shakespeare & Company...

Left an indelible impression on our psyche...

How forever grateful... we will always be to...

Sylvia Beach...

George Whitman...

"I wanted a bookstore because the book business is the business of life"...

For offering us this...

Literary... gem...

In the heart of our...

Much adored...

Paris...

a.

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