Paris’s Shakespeare Bookstore is no long at Rue Dupuytren where Sylvia Beach provided a unique gathering place for writers during the 1920s. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and scores of other authors and would-be authors looked upon the bookstore as their home away from home. In A Moveable Feast Hemingway tells about the time when he was too poor to pay the small fee Beach charged for book rentals, but, smart lady that she was, she allowed him to take out as many books as he wished and pay later.
Today’s Shakespeare and Company at 37 Rue de le Buchere has the same wonderfully quirky atmosphere as the original . It’s small rooms are filled with shelves loaded floor to ceiling with the world’s literature. The floors are uneven, the windows rattle and some of the shelves seem about to collapse under their burden. But the shop feels amazingly comfortable, with its odd corners providing seating for browsers.
In wandering through the maze of rooms, it’s easy to convince yourself that at any moment you’ll stumble across James Joyce hunched on a bench, near-sightedly peering into a copy of his Dubliners. Or perhaps that young man in worn jeans and the Old Navy t-shirt who’s scribbling away in a corner will be the next great writer. If you’re a writer, you feel what it’s like to be even a minuscule part of the literary world.