Monday, December 19, 2011

A tribute to Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company in Paris is an icon among booksellers and bibliophiles. Its owner for decades, George Whitman, passed away last week, 14 Dec. 2011, at age 98. My bibliophile friends sent me a link to a movie about life in the bookshop:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5574284408427118756

(Note: YouTube has this video in piecemeal. The Google link above is the entire 52-minute documentary.)

I'm not sure where the original S&C (also in Paris) starts and this continuation S&C begins, but one of them started hosting writers in the early 20th century, including Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. George Whitman either started or kept up that tradition and invited all kinds of people to stay in the bookshop in exchange for work. The movie above shows the bohemian life of writers and backpackers who actually move books out of the way at night and sleep and live in the shop.

Ironically, the first time I heard about Shakespeare and Co. was from its namesake, a bookshop in Kernersville, NC, which I visited in 2009. The owner has gradually switched over from coffee and books to wine and kitchen supplies and, as of last week, no longer sells books.

2 comments:

Jill Kemerer said...

Oh too bad--about Whitman's death and the store you originally went to no longer selling books. Although I do like kitchen supplies... :)

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad his daughter carries on the tradition. Wouldn't it be great to go to Paris and wander through all those books?