Box The Second

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Here we go again…. un-boxing the bounty from  my second trip to the box sales, which turned out to be no less fruitful than the first, but a lot more relaxed as it happened to be on a weekday.

First up, three more additions to my ‘armchair gardening’ reads.  I was most thrilled to find Anna Pavord’s The Curious Gardener after having read some good things about it. Though I have yet to read her other book that’s sitting on the shelves (The Naming of Names), something tells me that she’s my cup of tea and I won’t regret collecting her works.
Our Lives In Gardens by Joe Eck & Wayne Winterrowd is new to me but I love the title and what it suggests, and the same goes for Clyde Phillip Wachsberger’s Into The Garden With Charles: A Memoir.

The Mark Kulansky and A Card From Angela Carter were picked mainly due of their convenient size for filling up the odd spaces in the box, but it’s fair to say that they do seem to have something interesting to offer between those slim covers too.

The Irene Nemirovsky biography by French biographers Philipponnat and Lienhardt looks likely to be another promising read. “This book elegantly balances her life and the work, painting a portrait (if at some distance) of a spirited young asthmatic writer, daughter, wife, and mother.” I wonder if I should read Suite Francaise first before starting on this.

I was glad to be able to finally get my hands on The Joy of Eating: The Virago Book of Food, after finding a copy of The Joy of Shopping at the sales some years ago. “Beatrix Potter wove one of her most malicious tales around the roly-poly pudding. Colette counted the nuts she would pick before falling asleep in the French countryside. Dorothy Wordsworth noted her pie-making sessions in her diary and Anne Frank observed the eating habits of her companions in hiding. Food is a constant in our lives, and it has always been a basic ingredient of women’s writing—in household books, cookbooks, diaries, letters, and fiction. In this anthology concentrating on international food writing by women, indulge your appetite with such diverse writers as Edwidge Danticat, Barbara Pym, and J. K. Rowling.” Sounds fun!

Next, is a beautiful hardback copy of Marilynne Robinson’s Lila. I seem to be collecting Robinson’s work based on the strength of the good reviews I’ve read but have not actually read any of it for myself yet. Should really rectify that soon.

Witold Rybczynski’s City Life is completely unfamiliar to me but I am curious to find out more after reading the blurb. “Witold Rybczynski looks at what we want from cities, how they have evolved, and what accounts for their unique identities. In this vivid description of everything from the early colonial settlements to the advent of the skyscraper to the changes wrought by the automobile, the telephone, the airplane, and telecommuting, Rybczynski reveals how our urban spaces have been shaped by the landscapes and lifestyles of the New World.”

Thoreau is another writer I really want to get acquainted with. A person who can find such contentment and pleasure in solitude and quietness holds great appeal for me, and so finding a copy of the Penguin Nature Library edition of his Cape Cod was a much welcomed sight.

The slim volume of Trollope’s biography by Graham Handley was yet another good choice for acting as a box filler.

Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson makes for a great gift book. It’s filled with pages of beautiful photography of landscape, nature and animals combined with encouraging Biblical scriptures meant to be read as one prepares to wind down and retire for the night, reflecting on the day gone by with thankfulness.

The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink edited by Kevin Young.
Poetry is said to feed the soul, each poem a delicious morsel. When read aloud, the best poems provide a particular joy for the mouth. Poems about food make these satisfactions explicit and complete.” Some of the poets whose works can be found in this collection are Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, Seamus Heaney, Adrienne Rich, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath and W.B Yeats, among a host of others.

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Next comes the pile of architecture, food and design coffee table books. Finding Peter May’s beautifully photographed Hebrides, was a real bonus. The breathtaking landscapes that serve as the background to his Lewis Trilogy are a real visual treat.

A Table in The Tarn: Living, Eating and Cooking in Rural France by Orlando Murrin, a former journalist and cook who gave up his life in London to open a gourmet bed and breakfast with his partner in southwestern France. The premise for this has certainly whet my appetite for more.

And I had no idea that stone could be so interesting a subject until I came across Dan Snow’s Listening to Stone and In the Company of Stone: The Art of the Stone Wall. It’s an ancient skill–building with only what the earth provides. No mortar, no nails, nothing to hold his creations together except gravity, an invisible glue he can sense in the stones’ “conversations” of squeaks and rumbles. 

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In a voice as expressive as Annie Dillard’s and as informed as John McPhee’s, Snow demonstrates astonishing range as he touches on such subjects as geology, philosophy, and community. We learn that stone’s grace comes from its unique characteristics—its capacity to give, its surprising fluidity, its ability to demand respect, and its role as a steadying force in nature. In these fast-paced times, Snow’s life’s work offers an antidote: the luxury of patience, the bounty and quietude of nature, the satisfaction of sweat. “I work with stone,” he ultimately tells us, “because stone is so much work.”

The luxury of patience……. hmmm, I think we could definitely use some of that too when it comes to dealing with our never-ending, ever-growing stacks of unread books! :p

 

Bookish Goodness

Time for some long overdue bookish goodness to be shared on this little neglected blog of mine. While my reading may not have been all that ‘robust’ in the past few months, the book buying certainly seems ‘healthy’ enough. :p

Most of these came from a box sale, where I just had to pay for the box and I get to fill it up as best as I could. The average cost of each book came up to be around USD1 or less. Isn’t that a steal? 🙂

Am really interested in both the John Updike and Will Gompertz books on art criticism. Before this, I only knew of Updike and his Rabbit books which I never did pay much attention to. This book of essays on art seem far more appealing.

Robert D. Kaplan and Rosemary George are both unfamiliar names to me, but with titles such as these, Mediterranean Winter: The Pleasures of History & Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia and the Peloponnese and Treading Grapes: Walking Through The Vineyards of Tuscany, I think I wouldn’t mind getting better acquainted with them.

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I love the cover of this one. And in my favourite Penguin Classics edition too! 🙂

Another highlight from the stack was the McCullers. I was most excited with this find, The Mortgaged Heart. Although I have yet to read any of her works, I think I have heard enough of her high praises to be rightly so in anticipating a really good encounter with this one, a collection of her writings that were mostly written before she was nineteen. The fact that her masterpiece (The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter) was published just a few years later when she was only twenty three says much about the quality that can be expected from her teenage writing, I think. By the way, don’t you just love the cover of this one?

IMG_1750aOne can never have too many books about the love of books and the people who collect them. So, of course these two had to come home with me once they were spotted. I am still on the lookout for Basbanes’ classic, A Gentle Madness (love the title!) but for now, Patience & Fortitude will have to do.

IMG_1748aI never knew Sylvia Plath could draw, did you? Well, apparently she did and did quite well too.

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IMG_1898aI foresee many pleasurable hours ahead with this haul.

🙂

 

The Loot (part 1)

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So, the shutters have finally come down on the biggest book sale in the world, and after all the hustling and bustling (and trolley dragging) in the last 10 over days, here is the bounty that was gotten from the many hours of happy book hunting I had.

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The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 by Molly Peacock.
This book in itself is an object of beauty.  It is a treat just to hold the book and caress its pages while your eyes are being treated to the beautiful illustrations & inspiring story of Mary Delany, the artist who begins her life’s work at the ripe old age of 72, back in the 1770s. Guess there’s still hope for all of us then? :p

Christopher Lloyd’s In My Garden is a compilation of Lloyd’s garden prose collected from his weekly column in the “Country Life” since 1963. Although I am no gardener myself, and do not enjoy any form of physical gardening chores, somehow I seemed to have developed a fascination for reading about them. Strange, I know. Some sort of ‘armchair gardening’ perhaps?

Culinary Pleasures by Nicola Humble “takes a unique look at Britain’s culinary evolution – a journey expressed through the development of its cook books. This remarkably accessible book spans the diverse panorama of British cooking from Mrs. Beeton to nouvelle cuisine concluding with the rise of the celebrity chef and the emergence of cuisine in all its familiar modernity”. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Milan Kundera’s The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts is said to be a thought-provoking yet entertaining essay on the art of the novel. As yet, I have not read any of Kundera’s works and though I still feel a little intimidated, this one does seem like a not-too-bad place to start.

Just by reading the title of Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana would have left me thinking that it’s a fantasy or sci-fi book and not something that would interest me. Who would have thought that it’s actually about a “sixtyish rare-book dealer who lives in Milan, has suffered a loss of memory- he can remember the plot of every book he has ever read, every line of poetry, but he no longer knows his own name, doesn’t recognize his wife or his daughters, and remembers nothing about his parents or his childhood. In an effort to retrieve his past, he withdraws to the family home somewhere in the hills between Milan and Turin.There, in the sprawling attic, he searches through boxes of old newspapers, comics, records, photo albums, and adolescent diaries. And so Yambo relives the story of his generation: Mussolini, Catholic education and guilt, Josephine Baker, Flash Gordon, Fred Astaire. His memories run wild, and the life racing before his eyes takes the form of a graphic novel. Yambo struggles through the frames to capture one simple, innocent image: that of his first love.” 
Now, I am definitely interested!

Henry James: The Matured Master by Sheldon M. Novick is described as the definitive biography of one of the world’s most gifted but least understood authors. Using hundreds of letters only recently made available and taking a fresh look at primary materials, Novick reveals a man utterly unlike the passive, repressed, and privileged observer painted by other biographers. Henry James is seen anew, as a passionate and engaged man of his times, driven to achieve greatness and fame, drawn to the company of other men, able to write with sensitivity about women as he shared their experiences of love and family responsibility.

The English Lakes: A History by Ian Thompson is a good one for doing some armchair travelling around England’s Lake District. So is The Paris Book: Highlights of A Fascinating City, in which every page is filled with breathtaking images capturing the essence of the city. This is one real treat that is bound to make every Francophile squeal with delight. 🙂

Carol Drinkwater’s Return To The Olive Farm is part of her series of memoirs recounting her adventures in running an organic farm in Provence, France. I have not read any of her other memoirs yet, though.

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Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand (illustrated by Edward Ardizzone) was added into the bag simply because I fell in love with the pretty little edition it came in. And having it illustrated by Edward Ardizzone was probably part of the reason why it looked so pretty.

Another little book on travel – IDEO Eyes Open: London, filled with fresh new inspiring images of the city.

The Queen’s Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England by John Cooper is ‘…. a story of secret agents, cryptic codes and ingenious plots, set in a turbulent period of England’s history. It is also the story of a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the threatened English state.’ I’m intrigued.

The Real Jane Austen: A Life In Small Things  by Paula Byrne.
I have another one of her biographies on Evelyn Waugh which I have yet to read (as usual) but somehow know that I will regret if I don’t pick this up as well. It was also the one and only copy I managed to come across in the entire sale. So I guess it’s meant to be.

Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle.
‘A new trend in biography is to profile the woman behind the man. In the case of the immensely talented and tragically infamous Oscar Wilde, that woman was the beautiful, intelligent, and forward-thinking Constance Lloyd Wilde.’ I have not heard of Constance Lloyd Wilde before, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to read her story. Has anyone here read this yet?

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A White’s Fine Edition of Sherlock Holmes: His Greatest Cases by Arthur Conan Doyle.
The reason for this purchase is mainly because it was ridiculously low priced. Only at RM8 (roughly at USD2.40?), the same price as all those other paperbacks I got from the sale. The acid-free pages also sounded very good, as it is rather hard trying to keep the pages of books from developing those dreaded yellow spots over time, due to the humid climate over here. I wonder if acid-free papers will help with that. I hope it does.

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H.G. Wells in Love: Postscript to An Experiment in Autobiography by H.G. Wells
I am not into futuristic, sci-fi books and so have never felt compelled to read any H.G. Wells so far. ‘I was never a great amorist,’ wrote H. G. Wells in his Experiment in Autobiography in 1934, ‘though I have loved several people very deeply.’ This, however, I am very interested to read.

Death and The Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart by Chris Skidmore.
I got interested in this one because I read a review saying that it reads like an Agatha Christie mystery. Chris Skidmore takes a fresh look at the familiar story of a queen with the stomach of a man, steadfastly refusing to marry for the sake of her realm, and reveals a very different picture: of a vulnerable young woman, in love with her suitor, Robert Dudley.

I have been collecting several of Jan Morris’s books on travel writing, so it only makes sense to add this one to the stacks as well – Coast to Coast: A Journey Across 1950s America.

Next is a slim volume of Monet (Life and Times) by Matthias Arnold, followed by a Vintage Classics edition of Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day. I have so far only read one complete novel of Woolf’s, which is Mrs Dalloway, but have been collecting quite a few of her other novels, essays, letters and diaries. This one is going to feel right at home with the rest of them, no worries. 

Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition edited by Hemingway’s grandson, Sean Hemingway, is an edition which claims to ‘present the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published.’ While some are of the opinion that the original version is better than this ‘restored’ edition, the real plus points for getting this restored edition would be the inclusion of new, previously unpublished chapters included after the main text, called “Additional Paris Sketches.”

Some time last year, I had listened to the audiobook of David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans In Parisand loved it. The story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work, is so skillfully told, and with such vivid details that the Paris of the 19th century, is brought to life within these pages. Many of the details and stories in the book have slipped me by, especially since I had only caught them by ear in the first instance, so acquiring a copy of this seemed like the only sensible thing to do. This is really one highly readable piece of history writing, and I can’t recommend it enough.

And with that, I think I should end the post for this first part of the loot. Too much of a good thing might end up being not so good a thing, although I don’t think this should apply to books. :p

Anyway, what I have just shared here are the books I picked up on the first three trips I made to the sale. I must say that the final two days of the sale were even more fun! So, stay tuned. 😉

A bookish interlude….

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Thought I’d take a break from my Italian photos indulgence streak and share something more bookish instead. Besides, I am really excited about this latest stash of bookish goodness that has just joined the stacks and just can’t wait to talk about them! 🙂 And just for the record…. I didn’t buy any books from my trip this time (how did that happen?!), so all these books here can probably be considered as quite, quite necessary in being part of the remedy for my ‘post holiday blues’. (There’s just no shortage of excuses for a book buying addict, is there?) :p

Anyway, my excitement for these books have more than overridden any guilt I may have for yet adding more to the numbers of TBR on my shelves and floors. So, here goes :

Memoirs of A Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir.
I have not read anything by de Beauvoir before and only knew that she was the author of an important book (The Second Sex) and that she was married to Jean-Paul Sartre. And I can’t even recall right now what it was that actually triggered my attention to this autobiography of hers, but having taken a look at it (by the way, I just love the black and white portrait on the cover, don’t you?) I am really looking forward to getting acquainted with this feisty French feminist.

Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi
I have read many good things about this one and have been keeping a lookout for it ever since.
“This alternately hilarious and melancholy classic of Hungarian literature plumbs the psyches of a husband and wife burdened with a homely daughter.”  After sending off their “… unintelligent, unimaginative, unattractive, unmarried and overbearing” daughter to some relatives for a week, the parents get to rekindle their joy in living by eating out at restaurants, reconnecting with old friends, attending the theater etc. etc. “Then, Skylark is back. Is there a world beyond the daily grind and life’s creeping disappointments? Kosztolányi’s crystalline prose, perfect comic timing, and profound human sympathy conjure up a tantalizing beauty that lies on the far side of the irredeemably ordinary. To that extent, Skylark is nothing less than a magical book.”

William by E.H. Young
This has also been sitting on my wishlist for a long time now. Again, it was through the number of good reviews I had come across around the blogs that made me keep an eye out for this. So I’m rather glad to have gotten a copy of this at last, and in one of those lovely green VMC covers (almost pristine, too!).

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And over here, three different books but with similar themes running through them – loneliness, solitude and grief. Books dealing with such themes have always had a special place in my heart. Somehow, I find myself rather drawn to such writings. Probably that has something to do with the fact that I have always considered myself a sort of loner by nature. So it kinda makes sense to want to read about how other loners (not necessarily by choice) deal with the same issues, I guess. I suppose that also helps to explain why I think I can appreciate Anita Brookner’s works, depressing as they may be. :p

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
It was the title that first caught my attention. I thought it was very unusual to see the words ‘lonely’ and ‘passion’ put together. I knew nothing about the author (although he was shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize), but the storyline did appeal much to me.
“Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. She has few skills and is full of the prejudices and pieties of her genteel Belfast upbringing. But Judith has a secret life. And she is just one heartbreak away from revealing it to the world.” There’s something about unmarried women of a certain age that makes for some rather interesting reading, don’t you think? Okay, maybe it’s just me who’s the pervert here.

The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
This is one that I am sure many of you are familiar with. I see quite a number of rave reviews about it on a good number of blogs around, and it is enough to convince me that this is a book I want to read. Reading this, helped too:”Recounting an epic battle of wills in the claustrophobic confines of the boarding house, Patrick Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude, with a delightfully improbable heroine, is one of the finest and funniest books ever written about the trials of a lonely heart.”
Besides, I rarely pass up on a book with ‘solitude’ in its title. Yeah, so now you know what’s the sure-fire way to sell me a book. 😉

Staying on Alone: Letters by Alice B. Toklas
“Gertrude died this afternoon. I am writing. Dearest love, Alice.”
That is the first letter collected in this volume of letters covering the two decades that Alice Toklas had lived on after the death of her lifelong companion, Gertrude Stein. It has been said that, if letter writing is a lost art, then this volume of letters is a measure of what has been lost. “On tissue thin paper in tiny, often undecipherable hand, Alice Toklas described her daily life in Paris in absorbing detail. Here are shrewd, witty observations on some of the most interesting artists, musicians, and writers of the twentieth century: Thornton Wilder, Carl Van Vechten, Edith Sitwell, Anita Loos, Cecil Beaton, Janet Flanner, Bennett Cerf, among others. There are stories about Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cocteau, and Sartre – all revealing a sharp eye that was as much a part of Alice as her devotion to Gertrude and her passion for recipes and gardening.”
Having just finished reading her short collection of essays “Murder In the Kitchen” , which I had rather enjoyed, I am looking forward to reading more of Toklas’ writing. I quite like her unassuming dry wit and humour which comes through in her straightforward style of writing (as can be seen from the letter above). I have also started reading her memoir “What is Remembered” and it is interesting to read her account of the great San Francisco fire after the 1906 earthquake, as well as her first meetings and walks together with Gertrude Stein in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. I have yet to re-attempt reading any of Stein’s works after having been completely stumped by a short story of hers relating to some cows or something. :p

IMG_0758aMoving on…. The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier“.
If the name Adrienne Monnier doesn’t seem to ring any bells, maybe it would help if I were to mention Sylvia Beach as well? Monnier’s bookstore and lending library in the Rue de l’Odeon in 1920s Paris, was the inspiration and model for Beach to start her own English & American literature bookstore, the Shakespeare & Company, in Paris.  “Adrienne Monnier had the modest goal of wanting to share her love of literature with the public. It was the first free-lending library in France, which enabled Monnier to reach people from all walks of life and turn them into readers. The small bookshop-library invited readers to browse through books spilling from the shelves propped against the walls, sit in one of the antique chairs scattered around a large wooden table, and study the many photographs and drawings that hung high and low.”

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And in the words of a reviewer of this volume of essays, letters & reviews: “Through the writings, one gets to know Adrienne Monnier and her friends. She is a gourmand, a bookseller, a denizen of Paris, an art lover, a theatre-goer, and a friend. She will provide you with a view of Paris between the World Wars unlike any other.”
I am really looking forward to dipping into this one! I think it truly promises some very “rich hours” of reading, indeed. 😉

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I had never heard of the term ‘miniaturist history’ before coming across Gillian Tindall’s works. And it was the cover of her The House by the Thames …. and the people who lived there” that made me pull out the book from the bargain shelves at a local bookstore a couple of years ago. Much later, I picked up another book “The Fields Beneath” because its contents interested me much, without realizing that it was by the same writer. At that time, Tindall’s name had yet to register in me (since I had not read the first book which I had bought mainly for its lovely cover). When I finally made the connection later and realised that this is the kind of genre (miniaturist history) which Tindall is a master of, it was then that I began to actively seek out her books. Never mind the fact that I still have yet to read any of the ones I already owned. Somehow, that has never stopped me from being sure that I have to collect everything else written by a particular writer because I am sure that when I finally get down to reading them, I am bound to love it! Am I the only one who feels this way? 🙂

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And so, the latest addition to join the collection is “The Man Who Drew London“. Isn’t that another one lovely cover?
“The seventeenth-century London Wenceslaus Hollar knew is now largely destroyed or buried. Yet its populous river, its timbered streets, fashionable ladies, old St Paul’s, the devestation of the Fire, the palace of Whitehall and the meadows of Islington live on for us in his etchings. Drawing on numerous sources, Gillian Tindall creates a montage of Hollar’s life and times and of the illustrious lives that touched his. It is a carefully researched factual account, but she has also employed her novelist’s skill to form an intricate whole – a life’s texture which is also an absorbing and occasionally tragic story.”

So, the question now is…. which Tindall should I ‘kindle’ first? 😉
Suggestions, anyone?

Anyway, this has been fun!
Talking about books is always fun. I really hope there was at least something from the stack that has managed to pique your interest too, in some way or another.
I like the fun to be mutual. 🙂 

And now if you don’t mind, it’ll be back to those Italian photos again…….

Friday Feature : Sylvia’s Shakespeare

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It was great fun getting my little shop ready for the book business. I took the advice of my friends the Wright-Worthings, who had the antique shop Aladdin’s Lamp in the rue des Saints Peres, and covered the rather damp walls with sackcloth. A humpbacked upholsterer did this for me, and was very proud of the fluting with which he finished off the corners. A carpenter put up shelves and made over the windows for the books to be displayed in, and a painter came to do the few feet of shop front. He called it the ‘facade’, and promised it would be as fine when he finished it as that of the Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville, his latest triumph. Then a “specialist” came and painted the name “Shakespeare and Company” across the front. That name came to me one night as I lay in bed. My ‘Partner Bill’ as my friend Penny O’Leary called him, was always, I felt, well disposed toward my undertaking; and besides, he was a best seller.

Charles Winzer, a Polish-English friend of Adrienne’s, made the signboard, a portrait of Shakespeare, to be hung outside. Adrienne didn’t approve of this idea, but I wanted it anyway. The signboard hung from a bar above the door. I took it down at night. Once, I forgot it, and it was stolen. Winzer made another, which also disappeared. Adrienne’s sister made a third one, a rather French-looking Shakespeare, which I  still have.

Now perhaps some people wouldn’t know what a ‘Bookshop’ is. Well, that’s what the specialist carefully spelled out above the window at the right, opposite the words ‘Lending Library’. I let ‘Bookshop’ remain for a while. It quite described Shakespeare and Company making its debut in bookselling.

The books in my lending library, except for the latest, came from the well-stocked English secondhand bookstores in Paris. They, too, were antiques, some of them far too valuable to be circulated; and if the members of my library hadn’t been so honest, many, instead of a few, of the volumes would soon have been missing from the shelves. The fascinating bookshop near the Bourse, Boiveau and Chevillet, which has disappeared now, was a field of discovery for excavators who were willing to go down into the cellar, holding a lighted candle provided by dear old Monsieur Chevillet himself – what a risk!- and dig up the treasures buried under layers of stuff.

[…..] I went over to London and bought back two trunks full of English books, mostly poetry. [….] On the way to the boat train, I stopped in Cork Street at the little bookshop of the publisher and bookseller Elkin Mathews to order my Yeats, Joyce and Pound. He was sitting in a sort of gallery , with books surging around and creeping up almost to his feet. We had a pleasant talk, and he was quite friendly. I mentioned seeing some drawings by William Blake – if only I could have something of Blake’s in my shop! Thereupon he produced two beautiful original drawings, which he sold to me for a sum that, according to Blake experts who saw them later, was absurdly small.

[….] Another pleasant memory of my time in London was my visit to the Oxford University Press, where Mr. Humphrey Milford himself showed me the largest Bible in the world, made for Queen Victoria. It wasn’t a book you could read in bed.

Sylvia Beach, ‘Shakespeare and Company: Setting Up Shop’

I didn’t know Shakespeare and Co. had started out as a lending library, did you? And I found it fascinating to read of how Ms. Beach had gone about setting up her shop and the kind of people she encountered while sourcing for her book supplies. Also rather interesting to know, that there must have been some really serious Shakespeare fans lurking in Paris at that time,  to want to steal those signboard heads of his, although they did leave his French-looking version alone! :p