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The story of Sylvia Beach's love for Shakespeare and Company supplies the lifeblood of this book. The story of Sylvia Beach's love for Shakespeare and Company supplies the lifeblood of this book.


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The story of Sylvia Beach's love for Shakespeare and Company supplies the lifeblood of this book. The story of Sylvia Beach's love for Shakespeare and Company supplies the lifeblood of this book.

30 review for Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    I have always been fascinated by those episodes in history during which a very particularly fertile and creative environment develops for the production of outstanding works of art and literature. The circumstances vary with the times and with the places. There is always an interaction between imaginative and skilled individuals and their patrons. The location of where this interaction takes place is also determinant, and it can be more or less openly physical or instrumental or virtual. Several I have always been fascinated by those episodes in history during which a very particularly fertile and creative environment develops for the production of outstanding works of art and literature. The circumstances vary with the times and with the places. There is always an interaction between imaginative and skilled individuals and their patrons. The location of where this interaction takes place is also determinant, and it can be more or less openly physical or instrumental or virtual. Several instances come to my mind. There is the Florence of the 1420s-30s; the theatres by the Thames in the London of the 1590s; the commercial Delft of the 1660s; the palaces of nobles in the musical Vienna of the 1790s; the alternative Salons or Art Dealers in the Paris of the 1860s and 1870s; the Dada magazines and cafés around WW1. And there was also Sylvia Beach’s Bookstore in Paris in the 1920s and 30s. Shakesperare and Company acted like a magnet for that other phenomenon that also had a sustained and forceful effect in both European and American culture. Americans had been on a cultural quest and peregrinating to Paris from the mid 19C onwards, but a simple commercial decision in the part of the liners in the mid 1920s, when a group of steamship companies from the US created the Tourist Third, game it a new and strong impetus. Thousands of young students joined the pilgrimage that until then could be undertaken only by the likes of Henry James and Edith Wharton. I can imagine that this cheap way of broadening one’s mind by traveling had had a similar effect to the Europeanization that the InteRail had on the youth of the 1970s preparing them for embracing later the EEC. Sylvia Beach (1887-1962) must have been quite an exceptional woman. As the daughter of an American parson, she kept a devoted and ardent attitude towards her creed: Literature and Art. From her mother she inherited the passion for travel and her affinity for European settings. As an insistent reader from early age she developed her own personal and independent literary tastes. It was her acute eye, together with her curious mixture of stamina, conviction, and self-denial that converted her in the engine behind the publication of Ulysses, the event for which she is mostly known today. And indeed it could be argued that to give physical presence to Ulysses and to make it known to the world had become the sort of Corporate Mission for her, often non-profit, business. Her S&Co was a strange combination of a bookstore, a library, a publishing house, a refuge, a social club, a 'pension', a post office, a political hideaway, a cultural repository, a literary family in which mostly Anglo and French artistic circles could exchange their views and works. It also functioned as the rival of the other American center, on the other side of the river, and under the aegis of the formidable Gertrude Stein. Fitch traces all these roles of S&Co very vividly, following a chronological structure but identifying the shining tones along its development. Her research is so meticulous that one feels at times somewhat overwhelmed with the names of innumerable figures who circulated in Beach’s store. She also keeps his equanimity in his presentation of the rich gallery of personalities, although eventually she sides with Sylvia and her patience and benevolence versus the more manipulative Joyce with his Gargantuan appetite for digesting money (his and other people’s). I particularly enjoyed following the changes from the more idyllic 1920s to the more somber 1930s, because even if the situation with the ghosts of totalitarian politics tints the reading of those years, this was also the period when Sylvia could turn more to take care of herself and relax somewhat her magnanimity. This book can now become a beacon in my library. If I ever feel I do not know what to read next, I can always open it on any of its pages, and pick one of the many authors who visited Sylvia Beach in her extraordinary bookstore. --------- And here you can listen to Sylvia herself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnJYK...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    "Yet for all her freewheeling and independence, Sylvia Beach was a woman for others. ...Although she had no pretensions to literary talent herself, she lived her life among books, trusted her own literary judgement, and helped those artists she believed in. Indeed, she vicariously shared the joy of their success. She possessed an outgoing and vivacious personality; a nervous, restive energy; and a witty unsentimental intelligence. Occasionally she used the flattery and disarming diplomacy of the "Yet for all her freewheeling and independence, Sylvia Beach was a woman for others. ...Although she had no pretensions to literary talent herself, she lived her life among books, trusted her own literary judgement, and helped those artists she believed in. Indeed, she vicariously shared the joy of their success. She possessed an outgoing and vivacious personality; a nervous, restive energy; and a witty unsentimental intelligence. Occasionally she used the flattery and disarming diplomacy of the parson's daughter, but was as wise as Machiavelli. She retained her identity in a crowd of dominant personalities." Shakespeare & Co was more than a bookstore. It was a lending library, performance venue, post office, hotel, and meeting space for some of the biggest names in the art scene of 1920's Paris. The store's legacy continues to this day - Shakespeare & Co is still operating (and I think it's owned by a direct descendant of Sylvia Beach, but I could be wrong about that) and they have a program that provides free room and board for aspiring writers. Shakespeare & Co - not just the store itself, but everything it stands for and the people it affected - exists thanks to the efforts of two women. One was Adrienne Monnier, a French bookstore owner. The other was Sylvia Beach, an American woman who came to Paris in the beginning of the 20th century and stayed in France for the rest of her life. She became the close friend of numerous artists, and kept her bookstore alive through the the 1920's, saved the books from the Nazis, and kept the shop afloat even when she was drowning in debt. She was also instrumental in getting Ulysses published, and having it smuggled into the United States when it was initially banned. As other reviewers have pointed out, the main focus of this book is Beach's relationship with James Joyce. I knew that this would be heavily emphasized before I bought the book - flipping through it in the store, every single random page I turned to mentioned Joyce's name - but even then, there is a lot of Joyce in here. Like, this book should have been called Slyvia Beach and James Joyce. Other famous 1920's artists and authors make appearances, but it's clear that Fitch is most interested in exploring the Beach/Joyce dynamic. Which, ugh. I don't like James Joyce's writing, and I definitely don't like James Joyce the person (a dislike that was only confirmed by the stories in this book - Slyvia Beach, despite barely keeping the bookstore in business, would frequently give Joyce money for food and rent, and he would frequently stop by the store and help himself to cash from the register). But honestly, even fans of James Joyce don't really like James Joyce. Here's what Fitch says about Joyce's efforts to make the publication and reading of his work the biggest goddamn headache for everyone involved: "He did not merely correct or change words and phrases, he added to the copy, always complicating the material with interrelated details. He told Jaques Benoist-Mechin, 'I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.' His statement proved to be more than jest. Joyce has become the favorite of exegetes the world over." Translation: James Joyce was a dick. The pacing of this book is meandering, as Fitch sort of wanders from one anecdote to the other. When the book is good, it's very good, like when she's discussing Beach's efforts to keep the bookstore open during the Nazi occupation (at a time when, I might add, Gertrude Stein was busy taking vacations and helping the Vichy government) or telling stories about the artistic scene in the 1920s. One of my favorite stories was about George Antheil and his plan to drum up publicity for a performance of his Ballet Mecanique: he went into hiding while his friends fed a story to the newspapers that Antheil had gone off to Africa, and then disappeared. The plan was for Antheil to make a miraculous return to Paris, but while he was "missing" Antheil proposed to his girlfriend, and they were on their way to Budapest to get married when Sylvia Beach sent him this telegram: "FOR GOODNESS SAKE GEORGE COME BACK TO PARIS IMMEDIATELY AND DENY THIS IDIOTIC NEWSPAPER STORY LIONS ATE YOU IN AFRICA OR ELSE YOUR NAME WILL BE MUD FOREVER STOP TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE STOP SYLVIA BEACH." I also enjoyed all of the subtle shots that Fitch takes at Gertrude Stein and her (carefully cultivated) reputation as the queen of literary Paris. Stien, as far as Fitch was concerned, ain't shit. "Gertrude Stein's declaration that 'America is my country, but Paris is my home' more accurately described Sylvia Beach than Stein. Unlike Gertrude, Sylvia knew the language well and made her closest friendships among the French. ...On the one hand, she never attempted to deny her American heritage by embracing a national identity that was not hers by birth. She did not embrace all things French with uncritical enthusiasm. Nor did she, at the other extreme, choose to live within an American community in Paris, avoiding the French people and customs." Ultimately, this was a frustrating read, not just because of the (over)emphasis on Joyce, but also because Fitch can't seem to find a narrative to focus on. It's just a collection of anecdotes, and even though some of them are very good anecdotes and give the reader a clear picture of life in 1920's Paris, it doesn't make up for the book's larger faults. Sylvia Beach was cool as hell, though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen P

    I do not read non-fiction, especially history and including biographies. This book was placed aside to dip into. There it sat waiting, silent and patient. An afternoon not too long ago, for a reason unknown to me-which is how my reading has been successfully guided for some time-I picked it up and opened it. Even started to read. I found myself on the left bank in Paris. I was there in 1972 but now it is 1920, between the wars. The bookstore in this shift in time, Shakespeare and Company, is open I do not read non-fiction, especially history and including biographies. This book was placed aside to dip into. There it sat waiting, silent and patient. An afternoon not too long ago, for a reason unknown to me-which is how my reading has been successfully guided for some time-I picked it up and opened it. Even started to read. I found myself on the left bank in Paris. I was there in 1972 but now it is 1920, between the wars. The bookstore in this shift in time, Shakespeare and Company, is opened by a small energetic woman who lives true to herself, knowing no other way. Her consciousness is not focused on herself but expressing her true talent of, developing and nurturing friendships, bringing, American, British, French writers and literature together, tending to her bookstore, tending to the care of James Joyce. They come to her, the bookshop, from all over. It's reputation spreads on its own. I find myself not so much in a bookstore as in a lending library. Confused, no one has approached me or hinted at any desire to sell me a book. Apparently, young writers from around the area, many U.S. expatriates, buy a yearly lending subscription. Those few Friends of the bookstore pay nothing whether they have money or not. Many of these struggling writers are leaving with books or reading there. The atmosphere Sylvia Beach has created invites this. The privacy of reading is protected within the confines of Shakespeare and Company. A man sits in a chair near the laden shelves form a corner. Behind thick, large glasses he is sullen, unapproachable. Usually I am not shy. Now I am. His own book is being quarreled in the courts. There are grave doubts if it will ever be publishable. I yearn to approach him in my time-traveled tread. I want to, standing before him, reassure him. Say, Mr. Joyce you need not worry. Miss Beach will nurture your genius, take care of your monetary needs, all of your business tasks and correspondence, find you housing for your numerous needs to move. She and her small bookshop, after your lifetime work is shutdown by the courts, will publish your book. She will do it mainly herself. She believes in, Ullyses. She understands your genius. I have been allowed to slip past security into this world due to Noel Riley Fitch. The simplicity of statement opens the arched rough wood door allowing me passage. She herself is nowhere to be found. The absence is never conspicuous. The passage exists due to nothing being conspicuous. Each sentence is a simple reportage. It doesn't matter how famous the person is, all treatment the same. Riley-Fitch is the perfect author for Sylvia Beach who never considered fame because she was too busy doing what she loved. Beach did love it. Over the years she wed authors, languages, cultures, and furthered great pieces of literature. Fame was to catch up to her later. In the bookshop I can't pick out who she is, blending in as though invited there herself. This is holy ground. It is her child. It provided literature’s warmth of touch to help numerous young writers; Dos Passos, Pound, Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wright, Elliot, Beckett, Ford Maddox Ford, Valery, Michaux, William Carlos Williams, Gide, Robbe-Grillet, Wyndham Lewis, her lover of many years and owner of the bookshop across the street, Adrienne Monnier, and others. Not in awe but interested I roamed by their sides, so taken for granted I became invisible. Most are young and have yet to reach the lights of fame or their own standards which they have dedicated themselves to. They are people I had the privilege to silently know. Writers. Their travails and victories. Sylvia finding time which did not exist to be there for each as well as her network of friends and social engagements. The bookshop remained her child. Joyce was her child, idol, companion. Riley-Finch’s ten years of studying Beach’s well documented diaries, letters, interviewing friends and writers still with us willing to lend their memories of this magic time, allowed me to meet each not as chimeras of idol worship but people condemned to fight the battles we all face. They appeared as they were, not distorted by rumor or legend. They emblazoned the fault line each tip toed or attempted to thunder across. Joyce, painfully shy, morose was revealed with photo-finish accuracy. Often living in seclusion befriended too often by alcohol, a wife who tended him but choosing not to participate in his writerly life. Nora seemed to have a quiet steady strength even through Joyce’s maddening depressions and his many vividly painful, physically and emotionally, gruesome surgeries on his eyes. It is not possible to fully imagine the excruciating pain he lived with during his decline toward blindness. During long periods he had to conjure huge letters just to be able to see what he wrote. Yet he finished Ulysses, Finnegans Wake. The question is left unanswered or not possible to answer if any of these writings would have found publication, which was important to him and to an ego in need of filling, if not for Beach and the others who provided constant financial support over a period of years. He readily asked for and accepted money as an act of entitlement in the service of genius. He did not carry his genius as a source of pride or competition. It was accepted as another matter of fact. Easily it might be considered an act of narcissism under wide proportions. There is though an argument to be made that his special talent was the understanding from an early age that he was born with genius. The talent spawned his shyness and isolation. It was something needing tending, to be carried with him. Yet, at the same time he took the money spending it all lavishly at the most expensive restaurants, bars, as though rich. When the money quickly dwindled he asked others for more. They gave. He acted out this fantasy? An act of imagination? Just plain self centeredness? Entitlement coming with his unasked for gift of genius or attached as compensation for the agonies he endured from his harsh physical maladies? I was so grateful, wishing this travel through time would not end. By being in the shop, running errands when given the opportunity, others accepted my presence after a while without question. It was a time carved from chimera. I was there, the 1920’s, left bank, Paris. I had not been born yet. The journey was ensured by the absence of sentimentality and the figures filling out there true jagged forms. This was a book about art for arts sake. A woman determined to lead a life which brought about creativity no matter what the sacrifices, bonds which fostered the spread of new revelatory means of writing . Shakespeare and Company made little if no profit during much of her life but that life proved profitable by the spawning of great literature into the world. She defined meaning for herself by knowing herself so well, questioning it was not necessary. Unfolding herself into the work to bring it about, Sylvia Beach who had no time or thirst for fortune or fame, brought us so much of our literature. If it weren’t for Noel Riley-Finch who in her ten years of dogged research and plain spoken manner, set the record straight bringing us onto the left bank streets of Paris, we would not know of Sylvia. The Lost Generation. Considered lost due to excessive partying, consuming and being consumed by swirling lakes of alcohol. Early writing blossoming then cut off to a dribble, other careers squelched, some lying dead, young. Not lost, much of their writing has paved the way for further creation. But the word, lost, is terribly strong here. It dives firmly into the debate whether a writers life need be considered in their work or is the text a separate entity? If you found it on the ground with no name what would you think of it? I believe the texts are separate. Nothing has been lost. The fuel for this generation, between the hunger and spit of the two world wars, the raging pulse of blood pumped through arteries readying to burst, was to be oneself, to follow its path. It led to a faith that this was how to live and how to write. It could and should be no other way. Yes, there was a lack of responsibility, a nucleus of magnetic egocentrism. Mixing and ladling this into a broth produced amazing, creative, experimental moments in literature. This book along with being an astonishing biography about a woman with a vision and the verve and strength to bring it about, much to the advancement of literary works and the lifting of the enjoyment of readerly sensibilities to the public, is also a reflective examination of what spawns genius. Is it their experience, discipline and hard work or is their gift, as it appears Beach believed, was provided at birth.They do not need to be muffled by the conventions of the bustle of the world or its daily errands. Their gifts need to be nurtured, the path to who they are and the strengths to express it in their own fashion is imperative. An inspiring biography of Beach, a person who declared no goals, simply following what she knew tirelessly yet without effort, created the portrait of leading a life of meaning, while building a bookshop which shed its light across the reading world.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Earlier this year I read Sylvia Beach’s memoir of the 1920s and 1930s in Paris, Shakespeare and Company, named for the English language bookshop and lending library she founded in 1922. I found it an engaging work overall, although my lack of familiarity with less well-known English and American writers of the period and with French literary figures of the early 20th century made some parts of the work significantly less interesting than others. In her memoir, Sylvia Beach comes across as a thor Earlier this year I read Sylvia Beach’s memoir of the 1920s and 1930s in Paris, Shakespeare and Company, named for the English language bookshop and lending library she founded in 1922. I found it an engaging work overall, although my lack of familiarity with less well-known English and American writers of the period and with French literary figures of the early 20th century made some parts of the work significantly less interesting than others. In her memoir, Sylvia Beach comes across as a thoroughly nice woman and I wanted to know more about her. After reading Beach’s account of her life, it was very interesting to read what others had to say about her in this very detailed biography. It’s not surprising that the author concentrates on Beach’s connection to James Joyce, as this relationship was central to Joyce’s career. Beach went from being a fan of Joyce’s writing to becoming his friend and then to being the first publisher of Ulysses in book form. She also acted as Joyce’s banker, secretary, publicity agent, manager, real estate agent and nurse. While the improvident and self-centered Joyce was aware of how much he depended on her, he treated her poorly and his selfishness ultimately led to a breach in the relationship. In her memoir Beach merely hints at how exasperated she was by Joyce’s behaviour. The extent to which Joyce took advantage of Beach’s good nature and the growing distress his selfishness caused her is expanded upon in this work, in which Fitch uses sources including parts of her memoir which Beach suppressed. The work deals not only with the relationship between Beach and Joyce. It goes into Beach’s family background, her relationship with her long-term partner Adrienne Monnier and her interactions with writers including Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitgerald, T S Eliot, Ezra Pound, as well as a host of other English American and French writers of the period. The work is structured chronologically, with each chapter covering a period of one or two years until 1944 and concluding with a chapter covering the rest of Beach’s life. To some extent, this means that the work suffers from the same problem as Beach’s memoir. The casual reader who is not totally familiar with the writers and the publications of the period is likely to find some parts of the work much less interesting than others. That said, this is a great book to read for anyone interested in expatriate writers in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. Fitch’s prose is clear and accessible. She engages in relatively little speculation and each chapter is extensively annotated. The work is a great evocation of Paris in a time of immense literary creativity and innovation. The work confirms my impression of Sylvia Beach as an intelligent, resourceful, persistent warm and generous woman. She is fascinating to read about and would have been wonderful to know.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I am sorry to report that after the initial coverage of Sylvia's background and the initial drawing together of the major characters around her shop.... things got very tedious. Especially as things became more and more focused on Joyce and the publishing of Ulysses. God, his histronics got old fast- there was the odd good anecdote, but it was absolutely buried in a mound of details that were not edited for readability or use. It was like she was reporting every. single. last. thing that she cou I am sorry to report that after the initial coverage of Sylvia's background and the initial drawing together of the major characters around her shop.... things got very tedious. Especially as things became more and more focused on Joyce and the publishing of Ulysses. God, his histronics got old fast- there was the odd good anecdote, but it was absolutely buried in a mound of details that were not edited for readability or use. It was like she was reporting every. single. last. thing that she could possibly have found in her research in a really long list. And it got worse after the initial year of Ulysses- it was all, this person was here in June and signed up for subscription in July and sent a letter in August, at the same time as this person was in Paris but for a totally different reason, oh and then there was a dinner party- not a lot of detail, but happened, and then there was another book that came out... There was no narrative. No story any longer- just the dreary comings and goings of various somewhat or not-anymore famous writers mixed in with Joyce and Hemingway and Stein (who hated the shop, by the way, because she hated Joyce taking attention away from her). I can see this being useful to someone doing research on the interactions of these individual people and how that might have affected their work, or not. I can see Joyce devotees really liking this (I mean serious devotees). But oh my god, for anyone else.... yeah, I'm out, guys. Sorry to disappoint.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynne King

    This book was written back in 1983 but it’s so good to see that it is still readily available. For anyone interested in literary Paris of the twenties and thirties, this is a must read. It is also quite evident that Noel Riley Fitch has thoroughly researched her subject. Sylvia Beach had stated there were three loves in her life: Adrienne Monnier, James Joyce and Shakespeare and Company and this is the story of her three loves. But the first thing to be said is that if she had not been such an ad This book was written back in 1983 but it’s so good to see that it is still readily available. For anyone interested in literary Paris of the twenties and thirties, this is a must read. It is also quite evident that Noel Riley Fitch has thoroughly researched her subject. Sylvia Beach had stated there were three loves in her life: Adrienne Monnier, James Joyce and Shakespeare and Company and this is the story of her three loves. But the first thing to be said is that if she had not been such an admirer or Joyce, I don’t believe that Ulysses would have seen the light of day. Also just to read about Ford Madox Ford, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc. was a joy in itself. She met Ms. Monnier, her life companion in 1917 and two years later Shakespeare and Company opened its doors operating as an English language bookshop and lending library. It is a delight reading all the anecdotes of the people who passed through the bookshop’s doors and her relationship with Ms. Monnier is quite enlightening. I thoroughly recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Earlier this year, I read Richard Ellman's James Joyce, a painstaking biography of the man and his time and, above all, his writing. Integral to Joyce's key work Ulysses meeting the world was the effort of an ex-patriot American, Sylvia Beach. Noel Riley Finch has performed quite a service to the reading public in producing this biography which opens up those years of experimentation in the arts in Paris, years when the world seemed to congregate there and many, if not most, arrived with hope an Earlier this year, I read Richard Ellman's James Joyce, a painstaking biography of the man and his time and, above all, his writing. Integral to Joyce's key work Ulysses meeting the world was the effort of an ex-patriot American, Sylvia Beach. Noel Riley Finch has performed quite a service to the reading public in producing this biography which opens up those years of experimentation in the arts in Paris, years when the world seemed to congregate there and many, if not most, arrived with hope and happiness at the doors of Shakespeare and Company. Who didn't enter that shop? Hemingway did as did Fitzgerald, DosPassos, Faulkner, Stein, Joyce (constantly), Beckett, Gide, Valery, and on and on. Elizabeth Bishop stopped at the door, unable to bring herself to enter. Bryher, H.D., Pound, Ford. Satie, Antheil, Virgil Thompson, and Aaron Copland... the list goes on. There were musicians, artists but overwhelmingly writers.And Sylvia introduced American and English authors to the French through her shop/lending library. For history, Sylvia's larger legacy may have been the nurturing of James Joyce during the torturous creation and birth of Ulysses. She nurtured the man, his family, his ego, his wallet. She was his publisher, a shoulder to lean on, someone to blame when the world attacked or to share the good times. She shepherded the book through the years of bans and interdictions. And through it all, she continued relationships with a who's-who of the post Great War cultural boom. I very heartily recommend this biography to any reader interested in the history of literature of the 20th century. Sylvia Beach was a central character in that world though not a writer herself. She was a catalyst for so many others.

  8. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Riley Fitch indulges the reader with the stories behind Sylvia Beach's love for her bookstore on the left bank in France, which was a magnet for the popular authors of the 1920s. A bit of a suffragette, Beach battled to find her place in society, "insisting that Americans seem interested only in sports and business," while she "has been cursed with a preference for books", a sentiment I think many of us could agree with. (Sidebar: does anyone enjoy Ulysses? I have never been able to get past the Riley Fitch indulges the reader with the stories behind Sylvia Beach's love for her bookstore on the left bank in France, which was a magnet for the popular authors of the 1920s. A bit of a suffragette, Beach battled to find her place in society, "insisting that Americans seem interested only in sports and business," while she "has been cursed with a preference for books", a sentiment I think many of us could agree with. (Sidebar: does anyone enjoy Ulysses? I have never been able to get past the first couple of chapters.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ce Ce

    Jules Verne wrote of a world 20,000 leagues under the sea. Noel Riley Fitch wrote of a lost generation...literary Paris between the wars. She tells the story of Sylvia Beach and her Nautilus...Shakespeare & Co. on the Rue de l'Odeon. A century ago...an extraordinary American woman in Paris...deeply committed. "'My loves were Adrienne Monnier and James Joyce and Shakespeare and Co, proclaims Sylvia Beach.' This book is the story of those three loves." Immersed in the universe of Sylvia's Nautilus. Jules Verne wrote of a world 20,000 leagues under the sea. Noel Riley Fitch wrote of a lost generation...literary Paris between the wars. She tells the story of Sylvia Beach and her Nautilus...Shakespeare & Co. on the Rue de l'Odeon. A century ago...an extraordinary American woman in Paris...deeply committed. "'My loves were Adrienne Monnier and James Joyce and Shakespeare and Co, proclaims Sylvia Beach.' This book is the story of those three loves." Immersed in the universe of Sylvia's Nautilus...the world journeyed to us. This morning I have the sense of wakening from an alternate universe. One that is so alive I cannot believe it has passed. Adrienne to Sylvia... I salute you my sister born beyond the seas! Behold my star has found your own... Adrienne Monnier, strongly rooted...and yet free spirited...fluid reader of tea leaves James Joyce, not an easy love with his tentacles...brilliant and fascinating...if potentially lethal. The universe of Sylvia's beloved Shakespeare and Co... Phiona Richards, Pearls Of Wisdom, created from a children’s encyclopedia There was one more love...Fitch's love for Sylvia. This book is the story of three loves plus one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    A scrupulously researched and elegantly written history of literary Paris between the wars. The finest favor Fitch does her readers is to introduce them to the redoubtable Sylvia Beach, a woman whose devotion to Joyce was both unbelievably unwavering (given his abject solipsism and blatant exploitativeness, which Fitch communicates with barely concealed annoyance, which was also fun). Beach founded and ran Shakespeare and Company, a bookshop and lending library for the American expats, French ar A scrupulously researched and elegantly written history of literary Paris between the wars. The finest favor Fitch does her readers is to introduce them to the redoubtable Sylvia Beach, a woman whose devotion to Joyce was both unbelievably unwavering (given his abject solipsism and blatant exploitativeness, which Fitch communicates with barely concealed annoyance, which was also fun). Beach founded and ran Shakespeare and Company, a bookshop and lending library for the American expats, French artists, and modernist luminaries whose contributions to literature and culture are remembered where Beach's services as publisher, promoter, and sometimes even personal secretary for Joyce are often forgotten. Sometimes the book loses momentum and interest because of the kind of gossipy inertia that plagues this kind of a history. Often, Fitch must list just too many patrons who dallied at Shakespeare and Co. and notable friends who spent time with Sylvia and her partner, French bookshop owner Adrienne Monnier. The proper nouns proliferate. Also, some of the "events" of the history are literary readings, all too often uninteresting in person and certainly not improved by scholarly reportage. Nonetheless, a handy and thorough resource about this period and these circles, and a touching and intelligent introduction to Sylvia Beach. (Beach's own book, Shakespeare and Company is more fun to read, but this history gives crucial background and context.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Gallup

    Here’s a rewrite of my earlier review, since I’ve continued to think about the book. This history does for the Paris literary scene between the world wars what Mark Anderson's book does for Shakespeare's era. Both provide background material to well-known literature, which is fascinating despite the unavoidable fact that in both cases the relentless accumulation of detail can become dry. Fitch's book is more a distillation of letters, unpublished memoir drafts, and personal recollections than a n Here’s a rewrite of my earlier review, since I’ve continued to think about the book. This history does for the Paris literary scene between the world wars what Mark Anderson's book does for Shakespeare's era. Both provide background material to well-known literature, which is fascinating despite the unavoidable fact that in both cases the relentless accumulation of detail can become dry. Fitch's book is more a distillation of letters, unpublished memoir drafts, and personal recollections than a narrative, and as a result it requires patience. Yes, the tedium of names and places is relieved by frequent startling bits, such as James Joyce's fear (apparently genuine) that Ulysses was jinxed because the sum of the digits of the year of its publication, 1921, was unlucky 13. Joyce surely was a difficult character to know, since even his most steadfast admirer and supporter finally concluded that "He thinks, like Napoleon, that his fellow beings are only made to serve his ends." Others have their bad sides as well. Hemingway turned on his friend Fitzgerald simply because their respective personas (he-man vs ruined genius) required that of him. And although I started out knowing less about Gertrude Stein than any of the other big names appearing in these pages, I now feel that I don't want to know any more. The depiction of Stein made me think of Miss Piggy! Sylvia Beach, the energetic young American expatriate who made it possible for Ulysses to see the light of day, is portrayed favorably and sympathetically. Others in the gang are brought to life as vividly as is possible in a format like this. Again, the trouble is that for every Eliot and Williams and Pound and Beckett, there are scores of others who made no particular mark in history and are equally forgettable in this context. They, and the minute details of what everyone did, muddy the waters. I sense that, for most of this gang, life was stimulating and intense, and the flaw in this book is its inability to dramatize that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    1. I liked the introduction of Sylvia's life as her life in Paris was a logical progression from her childhood. 2. I liked how Shakespeare and Co was like a magnet. Even though the author detailed the struggles Sylvia experienced, ultimately, the bookstore was a great introduction for many readers and writers, whose works will last longer than the store. 3. I liked how the intrigue of the James Joyce/Sylvia Beach story was written, in particular regarding the publishing of Ulysses. The book made J 1. I liked the introduction of Sylvia's life as her life in Paris was a logical progression from her childhood. 2. I liked how Shakespeare and Co was like a magnet. Even though the author detailed the struggles Sylvia experienced, ultimately, the bookstore was a great introduction for many readers and writers, whose works will last longer than the store. 3. I liked how the intrigue of the James Joyce/Sylvia Beach story was written, in particular regarding the publishing of Ulysses. The book made Joyce out to be arrogant, and impulsive, and I don't want to read his books as a result. 4. I didn't like the back and forth in time; she would use a date or event to reference a point in one chapter, and then continue the book chronologically, only to be pointed back to the earlier event to illustrate a new point. 5. I don't think the author was comfortable with Sylvia as a lesbian; she didn't acknowledge Adrienne, her lover, as more than a friend, until one of the last pages of the book. 6. The impact of the Nazis on Paris was keenly felt.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    I jumped ship when Joyce took over the entire narrative—I can only take so much Jimmy (and his whole involvement here is just so damn depressing). Otherwise a fascinating account of a fascinating person.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elisha

    This is a very clever biography which strikes a wonderful balance between personal information and context. As the title suggests, this is a biography of Sylvia Beach - publisher, American expatriate in Paris, and founder of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop. However, as again suggested by the title, this is also a biography of the Lost Generation - a movement of artists and writers which Sylvia Beach wasn't part of per se. The clever thing about this biography is that Noel Riley Fitch This is a very clever biography which strikes a wonderful balance between personal information and context. As the title suggests, this is a biography of Sylvia Beach - publisher, American expatriate in Paris, and founder of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop. However, as again suggested by the title, this is also a biography of the Lost Generation - a movement of artists and writers which Sylvia Beach wasn't part of per se. The clever thing about this biography is that Noel Riley Fitch has identified the one single thread that binds all of the Lost Generation writers together, and that is Sylvia Beach. Even though she wasn't a writer or an artist herself, she knew virtually all of them, served most of them in her bookshop, and was a great friend to some of the most notable names of the period. She was at the very centre of this literary movement and, therefore, any biography of her does inevitably become a biography of the Lost Generation in general too. That makes this an utterly fascinating book to read - it has all the detail you'd expect in any other biography, but it manage to cover dozens of notable people through its primary focus on one. I can't say that I knew a whole lot about Sylvia Beach before I started reading this book. I knew of Shakespeare and Company, but I've never visited and I only knew bits and pieces of its history. I think that somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered that it had been Sylvia Beach who published Ulysses, but - having never read Ulysses, or any Joyce for that matter - I didn't recall that until I started reading. To be honest, my main motivation for picking up this book wasn't Sylvia Beach at all; it was the promise of a portrait of literary Paris in the twenties, as that is part of the focus of my dissertation, which I'm currently preparing for. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the sustained focus on Sylvia's life throughout this biography. She truly was a fascinating and pioneering woman, and I'm extremely glad to have learned so much about her through the process of reading this. Reading a biography of Sylvia also served as a lovely reminder that it isn't just writers who matter in the literary world - publishers, booksellers, translators, librarians, and critics are damn important too, even though they often get far, far less recognition for their hard work. To read a biography dedicated to even just one of those oft-neglected figures was so refreshing. In terms of the Lost Generation, the two writers who pop up by far the most in this biography are James Joyce (unsurprisingly) and Ernest Hemingway. Joyce and Sylvia's working relationship was one of the longest and by far the most significant of her life, so he truly is a major player in her life story. Hemingway, in contrast, was just a really good friend to Sylvia, and he visited more than most of the other writers. The detailed portraits of both were very interesting to me. I know a bit about Hemingway and am not entirely sure how I feel about him yet, but this book endeared him to me more than anything else I've read, which was nice. Joyce, on the other hand, I knew nothing at all about when I started this. He was certainly an... interesting character, if a bit of an asshole (but, really, what classic male author isn't?). Part of me feels more inclined to read one of his works having read this, but the rest of me feels even more intimidated by him than I was before. I suppose I'll just have to see how it goes. For now, though, it was nice to learn a little more about the man behind those oh-so-frightening books. Other major players in this book include Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Robert McAlmon, Bryher, and H.D.. I knew of all of them previously from reading works about F. Scott Fitzgerald in which they popped up, but this is by far the most information I've ever received about any of them. I have quite the fascination with poor Robert McAlmon after reading this; he was one of the brightest burning stars of this time period yet his work is barely remembered now. Bless him. Whilst these are the major players, there are plenty of other big names who come and go, including my beloved Fitzgerald, along with John Dos Passos, D.H. Lawrence, and Samuel Beckett to name a few. The more you think about it, the more amazing this group of writers becomes. Reading about their encounters and exploits together can never be anything but fascinating. I do think that this book dragged in places, as biographies are prone to do. I also had a bit of a problem with the way that the author presented lesbianism in this book. Sylvia Beach was in a relationship with Adrienne Monnier most of the time that she was in France, yet their love for each other is constantly downplayed and the two are regularly referred to as 'friends'. Details of Gertrude Stein's relationship with Alice B. Toklas are similarly muted, as is Bryher's relationship with H. D. The author tends to refer to them as 'life partners' and there's a sense of covertness about the whole thing. In a biography featuring so many lesbians, I find that a little troubling (particularly since Fitch dedicates a few pages to the scandal caused by the publication of The Well of Loneliness amidst all this). At least it was alluded to at all, though, I suppose. All in all, this was an engrossing and fascinating biography, filled with details I did know and stories I most definitely did not. If you like or are interested in any one of the writers that I've mentioned above, then I'd definitely recommend giving this a go. Some people inevitably feature more than others due to their varying prevalence in Sylvia's life, but even if your favourite's contributions are limited to a few pages this is still worthwhile as a contextual portrait of the era in which they were writing. I found plenty in here that was of use to me even though the role that Fitzgerald - my area of interest - played in it was limited at best. I've learned a great deal here, and I can't complain about that. I look forward to reading more biographies of this nature in future.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Fascinating literary biography by Noel Riley Fitch focusing on the 20 years during which Sylvia Beach's English bookstore in Paris and her lover Adrienne Monnier's French bookstore located directly across the street served as a cultural crossroads for French, American and English men and women of letters. Everybody is in here: Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Christopher Isherwood, W.H. Auden, T.S Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., Janet Flanner, and on and on. But the central literary relationship is be Fascinating literary biography by Noel Riley Fitch focusing on the 20 years during which Sylvia Beach's English bookstore in Paris and her lover Adrienne Monnier's French bookstore located directly across the street served as a cultural crossroads for French, American and English men and women of letters. Everybody is in here: Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Christopher Isherwood, W.H. Auden, T.S Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., Janet Flanner, and on and on. But the central literary relationship is between Sylvia Beach and James Joyce. I had known that Beach was the first publisher of Ulysses but never really quite understood what that meant, what she took on, the scale of the undertaking or its notoriety, nor her devotion to the author, to the book, to literature. What an extraordinary woman. Of course, it is all the more interesting to me since Sylvia Beach sold much of her "Joyceana" to my university and recently we have installed a new exhibit on the first floor of my library with some of the documents from that collection on display along with photographs of Joyce and Beach that have now become iconic images of their relationship. The Joyce Collection at UB is described at http://library.buffalo.edu/pl/collect... for those bibliophiles who may be interested!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Cooke

    this book is not for everyone. i say that because i have given it to two of my most book-loving friends and they both have given it back to me, unfinished, with a withered look. but what's not to like? this is a book about sylvia beach, who owned 'shakespeare and company,' which was (and, in a shoddy replica is currently) a bookstore in paris. i've been there. because it's some sort of mecca. but it just makes me sad that i wasn't alive in paris in the 20s and 30s. but i digress. sylvia was frie this book is not for everyone. i say that because i have given it to two of my most book-loving friends and they both have given it back to me, unfinished, with a withered look. but what's not to like? this is a book about sylvia beach, who owned 'shakespeare and company,' which was (and, in a shoddy replica is currently) a bookstore in paris. i've been there. because it's some sort of mecca. but it just makes me sad that i wasn't alive in paris in the 20s and 30s. but i digress. sylvia was friends with people like hemingway, ezra pound, gertrude stein, james joyce, and lots of other writers hanging out in paris at that time. her bookstore was also a lending library. she also was pretty much responsible for 'ulysses' being published and distributed. this book is about those happenings. look, you're not going to like it, okay? but it's so good. actually, susan might like it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allyson

    It took me over a month to finish but I finally did! This was a huge book with so much information in it I couldn't just run through it. I took time with it and am glad I did. I know more about James Joyce than I ever thought I wanted to know. But I also know more about everything that was happening in Paris for 20 years, and I have always wanted to know that. I loved this book and am sure that if I turned around and started reading it all over again I would catch a million things I didn't catch It took me over a month to finish but I finally did! This was a huge book with so much information in it I couldn't just run through it. I took time with it and am glad I did. I know more about James Joyce than I ever thought I wanted to know. But I also know more about everything that was happening in Paris for 20 years, and I have always wanted to know that. I loved this book and am sure that if I turned around and started reading it all over again I would catch a million things I didn't catch the first time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    June

    I can't imagine the amount of research that must have gone into this book, but it kept me enthralled,despite the densely packed information and detail.How I would love to have been a fly on the wall at Shakespeare and Coin the time of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and so many others...The way of life of the period is completely gone..everyone seemed to get by on the financial kindness of friends and patrons,allowing them to get on with the business of creating without the sordid necessity of ear I can't imagine the amount of research that must have gone into this book, but it kept me enthralled,despite the densely packed information and detail.How I would love to have been a fly on the wall at Shakespeare and Coin the time of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and so many others...The way of life of the period is completely gone..everyone seemed to get by on the financial kindness of friends and patrons,allowing them to get on with the business of creating without the sordid necessity of earning a living.A unique time and place..

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Mchugh

    You have to admire the research. The writing, not so much. I'm sure Carlos Baker, Malcolm Cowley and Leon Edel (they all have blurbs on the back cover) enjoyed reading this 400+ page book. I did plow through it, and found it interesting and revealing in places. Having been a Joyce believer, and having lived in Paris in 1960-61, the subject was irresistible. I have a new respect for Sylvia Beach, and considerably less so for Joyce as a person. You have to admire the research. The writing, not so much. I'm sure Carlos Baker, Malcolm Cowley and Leon Edel (they all have blurbs on the back cover) enjoyed reading this 400+ page book. I did plow through it, and found it interesting and revealing in places. Having been a Joyce believer, and having lived in Paris in 1960-61, the subject was irresistible. I have a new respect for Sylvia Beach, and considerably less so for Joyce as a person.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Mccartney

    Still hooked on this topic. It started last summer with Paula McClain's The Paris wife and David McCullough's The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. This book was fascinating because it filled in the gaps and added wonderful background information about Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, James Joyce, Proust, Henry Miller, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and so many others. Still hooked on this topic. It started last summer with Paula McClain's The Paris wife and David McCullough's The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. This book was fascinating because it filled in the gaps and added wonderful background information about Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, James Joyce, Proust, Henry Miller, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and so many others.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

    Anyone interested in Paris literature in the twenties and thirties needs to read this book. I was totally hooked on so many of these writers who changed the course of English literature and yet lived the Bohemian life to see the artist struggle as a way of life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trina

    Lots of names and dates. Worthwhile as a reference or for those who want a reading list of modernist writers living in Paris in the early part of the century.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michele Cacano

    Having recently finished Sylvia Beach's memoirs on Shakespeare and Company, I was looking for more detail and perspective on the era. Detail, I got, in spades, but perspective was still lacking. I want to say that I am grateful to the author for documenting this period so thoroughly. It is amazing to think that many of these authors and others from the Left Bank that were there in the 1920s and '30s were actually still alive when this book was written. Noel Riley Fitch interviewed many of them. Having recently finished Sylvia Beach's memoirs on Shakespeare and Company, I was looking for more detail and perspective on the era. Detail, I got, in spades, but perspective was still lacking. I want to say that I am grateful to the author for documenting this period so thoroughly. It is amazing to think that many of these authors and others from the Left Bank that were there in the 1920s and '30s were actually still alive when this book was written. Noel Riley Fitch interviewed many of them. The detail is incredible - I felt like I was there, for sure, but I didn't always want to be. I really don't need to know all the ins and outs of the contract law at the time. What went into James Joyce's publishing deals, distribution rights, etc. are all here. Meanwhile, the boozy nights are glossed over in a wide swath of extravagance that only wears on me, the reader, years in, much like they did for Sylvia. The fact that intelligent, independent women like Sylvia and UK publisher Harriet Weaver supported Joyce's alcoholism and frivolous lifestyle is beyond me. Certainly, it was his talent as a writer, but perhaps also a personal charm? I will not learn that in this tome. This book took me much longer to read than I had expected. It is a week by week experience behind the scenes of Shakespeare and Company. I would have liked to have a more equal distribution of stories, but I do understand that Joyce was both a beloved friend and a time-consuming business proposition for Sylvia. I was glad to learn about some of Sylvia's family history, but much was left unsaid, as well. Her mother's death is not explored for the impact it had on Sylvia, or the resonance it cause when Adrienne Monnier was lost to her, as well. In fact, there seemed to be some sort of breakup that was handled very quickly by the author. It was not discussed at all. Yes, Ms. Beach may have been a private person who felt her own story was inconsequential, but this is not her memoirs. This is a biography, and I would expect a more thorough exploration of these close personal relationships and losses. What is to be made of the manipulation, abuse and cost of being in the small circle of Joyce's? What could have been an in-depth exploration of a woman ahead of her time and how she touched, connected, and inspired the lives of some of the most creative people of the twentieth century, was instead much more of a timeline of events and minutiae. Again, while I am glad this recorded history exists, I am uncertain for whom this is a necessary read. Part of me really enjoyed being there, as I felt I was, but sometimes the list of names added to the visitors and patrons of the shop (especially those of non-writers) was overwhelming. Definitely more on the academic side of biographies, this. I want to give it three and a half stars, but half-stars are not an option. Five stars for thoroughness, three stars for enjoyability,and we have a four-star review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dvora

    This book had the promise of something much better. It has all the ingredients of what from me would rate a 4 or a 5. The information was there, some of the engaging details were there, but there was far too much other stuff getting in the way to be able to concentrate on Sylvia Beach, an incredible woman who deserves a better biography. I was familiar with the author, Fitch, having read her book on Julia Child a few years ago. I went back and took a look at what I wrote about that book. I quote This book had the promise of something much better. It has all the ingredients of what from me would rate a 4 or a 5. The information was there, some of the engaging details were there, but there was far too much other stuff getting in the way to be able to concentrate on Sylvia Beach, an incredible woman who deserves a better biography. I was familiar with the author, Fitch, having read her book on Julia Child a few years ago. I went back and took a look at what I wrote about that book. I quote myself below so that I don't have to write the exact same thing again because the exact same thing applies here. "The problem with this book (Appetite for Life, the book about Julia Child) is not Julia's story. The problem is the poor writing (others say bad editing -- but it seems like poor writing to me). All the information is there, but nothing was left out and the information often just reads like a list. Paragraphs do not give you complete thoughts, in fact, sentences often don't follow one from the other so that you have to look back to figure out what the author was trying to say, and finally arrive at the conclusion that there is no way to know. But finding out about Julia made it all worthwhile. Her passion, her marriage, her friendships, her life, I enjoyed learning about it all." The same here in the book about Sylvia Beach -- the founder of the lending library and bookshop Shakespeare and Company in Paris; first publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses in English (the book was banned in the U.S. and in Britain); supporter of Joyce in every imaginable way for over a decade; hostess, supporter and good friend to innumerable writers, students, and intellectuals for over forty years; friend and lover of Adrienne Monnier for four decades; protector of German refugees from the French just before the war and Jews from the Germans during it; recipient of the French Legion of Honor -- she was almost lost in interminable lists of names, details that didn't add anything to the subject, sentences that made no sense, and paragraphs that went nowhere. Although much of the book reads like a list, if you are determined, you are rewarded with anecdotes and great stories and a good sense of what kind of person Beach was. I've added her to my very short list of women heroes. You also learn, in excruciating detail, what a son-of-a-bitch James Joyce was (although Sylvia never said a bad word about him but it does come out in all those details). I think it was worth reading, but, because the subject and information was great but the writing was poor, it didn't rate more than a 3.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike Violano

    The beginning of Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation was so entertaining and signaled the promise of a early 20th century literary history filled with famous authors and a winning Parisian bookseller of English language books. The middle of the book is a bloated collection of facts, events and anecdotes with the recurring appearance of James Joyce who becomes more annoying, arrogant and tiresome with each page. Sylvia Beach is the heroine of this history but she deserves a tighter biography. The The beginning of Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation was so entertaining and signaled the promise of a early 20th century literary history filled with famous authors and a winning Parisian bookseller of English language books. The middle of the book is a bloated collection of facts, events and anecdotes with the recurring appearance of James Joyce who becomes more annoying, arrogant and tiresome with each page. Sylvia Beach is the heroine of this history but she deserves a tighter biography. There is much to enjoy in the early chapters from the tale of the bookstore as lending library, the prominence of literary magazines in the early 20th century, the profile of poet Ezra Pound and the initial publication of Joyce's Ulysses which was riddled with errors and revised reprints. Many great American authors visited Shakespeare and Company on the left bank of Paris including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot. The final chapters are also strong as Beach and the bookstore strive to survive the Depression years and is closed by the Germans when they occupy Paris during World War II. In the 1950s the store was reborn in a nearby location and is managed today by Sylvia Beach Whitman (no relation but named after the original owner). The English language bookstore continues the tradition of author readings and supporting aspiring writers. If in Paris it is a worthwhile place to visit.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Reiter

    Here I was ready to genuflect to one of the greatest of Irish authors only to find James Joyce as a lazy egomaniacal sponger. Granted I have read neither Ulyssses nor Finnegan's Wake but I had hopes for the author I met in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Dubliners. This is a filling description of the Period. All of the interactions among Beach, her family, friends, literary acquaintances and detractors are brought together in a superb example of research. The Reader feels a part o Here I was ready to genuflect to one of the greatest of Irish authors only to find James Joyce as a lazy egomaniacal sponger. Granted I have read neither Ulyssses nor Finnegan's Wake but I had hopes for the author I met in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Dubliners. This is a filling description of the Period. All of the interactions among Beach, her family, friends, literary acquaintances and detractors are brought together in a superb example of research. The Reader feels a part of the life journey of Ms Beach, her involvement in wars, publishing, bookselling and survival. She should be disinterred in Princeton and placed next to her mother in Paris. She belongs to France more than to America.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nick Anderson

    I FINALLY finished this book! While it is fascinating and packed with thoroughly-researched information, it is a long and slow read, with names constantly being introduced without much preface, and the writing and references can get very circular. I am a devout fan of this era, so I really enjoyed the book, myself. Ms. Beach was quite the amazing human, and I had no idea that James Joyce was the biggest freeloader in the history of literature. (Seriously.) Additionally, I purchased my copy of this I FINALLY finished this book! While it is fascinating and packed with thoroughly-researched information, it is a long and slow read, with names constantly being introduced without much preface, and the writing and references can get very circular. I am a devout fan of this era, so I really enjoyed the book, myself. Ms. Beach was quite the amazing human, and I had no idea that James Joyce was the biggest freeloader in the history of literature. (Seriously.) Additionally, I purchased my copy of this book at Shakespeare and Co., so it is one of my small treasures.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    After reading this book, I consider Sylvia Beach one of my literary heroes. What a phenomenal woman who helped so many artists! This book is an extremely detailed look at her life and that of her famous bookstore Shakespeare and Company. I will admit, most of the times I found all of the details overwhelming and it took me a few months to get through this book and I had to take a few breaks, but if you are interested in the Lost Generation writers, this book must be required reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Presschick

    Great read on Sylvia; too much on that megalomaniacal entitlement guy Joyce... well researched and well presented, I appreciated the authenticity and respect for the period and the players (still too much about Joyce, did I already complain about that?). I’m a huge fan of those brave literary and artistic pioneering women of the day. I’d have given it 5 stars but, really really too much Joyce. Ok he was a big part of her life but not ALL her life. Sheesh.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John

    Really 3.5 stars, but I give the author credit for her research and dedication to Sylvia Beach’s life. There was a bit too much day to day type detail, but I appreciate the effort. Don’t know how Sylvia put up with James Joyce for all that time. He seems like the effort would have been wasted to me.

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