Shakespeare & Co. An iconic Book-Lovers refuge in the heart of Paris.
Shakespeare & Co.
Oscar Wilde once said, “with freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy”!!! This quartet can be easily found in Paris, to the Rue de Bucherie on the Left Bank, through the doors of the bookshop Shakespeare & Company.
In the very heart of Paris, under the shadows of Notre Dame, there lies a ramshackle bookshop where any literature-loving tourist will be almost certain to make a beeline for. It is one of the most popular European bookstores, mainly because it still manages to hold on its ideals and mission. The hole place breaths the atmosphere of more than half a century of an incredible literary and cultural oasis of English language in the centre of France. Packed on three floors, crowded crooked bookshelves fill the maze of tiny rooms that once formed part of a monastery, jostling for space with fraying chairs, old mirrors and a functional piano which is begging to be played.
Founded by American expatriate George Whitman in the early 50s, Shakespeare & Co is a place of books, hospitality and conversation. However the history of this bookshop goes back a few decades. The original Shakespeare & Co (located at 12 Rue de l’Odeon) was owned by Sylvia Beach from 1919 to 1941. The store functioned as a lending library as well as a bookstore. During this period writers and artists of the so called “Lost Generation” spent a great deal of time there. Ernest Hemingway, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein are some of them.
Although, Shakespeare and Company was in its prime, it closed on 14 June 1940, during the German occupation of France. Rumers claimed that a German officer ordered to shut the bookshop because Beach denied him the last copy of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.