The Hallowed Halls of Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company, the English language bookstore made famous by such patrons as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot, is just five minutes from our apartment, across Sully Pont. NLEH has never been there so we head there for a visit on this cloudy, book-buying day.

S&C has three small rooms on the ground floor with floor to ceiling books–a great offering of titles in a compressed space. The aisle is barely wide enough for one person and if the person in front of you stops, then you need to stop too—forget trying to pass. As a game, you can try to walk through the entire bookstore making a circle without knocking a book off the shelf or bumping into another person.

The chalkboard at Shakespeare and Company

I didn’t plan to buy any books but when I leave I’m carrying two bags of books! Many are gifts emblazoned with the famous S&C stamp—the clerk will stamp the inside of the cover with the S&C logo making it a great souvenir. Plus, today was an extraordinary day at S&C—the first new issue of Paris Magazine published by S&C arrived in boxes as I stand in line to pay for a copy of the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Copies are flying out the door and I snatch four—another fabulous souvenir for writer friends.

Two teenage boys with British accents are standing next to me discussing Sylvia Plath and wondering how she killed herself. “Head in the oven,” an American tourist replied to their ghoulish delight. “Ewwww, I knew it was something horrible,” on of the boys exclaimed.

If you love bookstores, (who doesn’t), making a trip to Shakespeare and Company feels like going to church. This month S&C hosts a three-day literary festival—I can’t imagine where they could fit all the people, they certainly wouldn’t fit in the store. “At the little park next door,” a clerk tells me. This is something I don’t’ want to miss.

1 comment to The Hallowed Halls of Shakespeare and Company

  • Shakespeare and Company sounds like an amazing bookstore, perfect for a literary-minded writer and her no-longer-ex. Your descriptions are priceless and I can almost feel how tight the space must be and how patiently you must have browsed to find two bags full of books! xo