Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sylvia Beach (1887-1962)

i made a pilgrimage recently to the grave of Sylvia Beach, founder of the famous Shakespeare & Co bookshop in Paris. Beach was the first publisher of Joyce’s Ulysses, and she’s the woman who introduced Ernest Hemingway to Gertrude Stein (she even managed to remain friends with all of these notoriously tempermental writers until their deaths). Some have argued that she made expat Modern literature possible in the City of Lights in the crazy 1920s. Beach wrote one heck of a memoir called (logically enough) Shakespeare & Co—pick yourself up a copy the next time you’re drifting by the shop of that name in Paris. Her sense of humour and appreciation for the bizarre flukes of life are as vivid today as when she wrote them.
She’s buried here in Princeton, in the family plot. And while it isn’t Paris, I like to think that Princeton is a sufficiently literary place that her ghost isn’t bored…

1 comment:

Negative Capability Brown said...

I stumbled across your photo of Sylvia Beach's grave, almost used it to annotate the map of the "Bloomsday Walk" I created (see blog entry). Beyond that, I know your Mtl family!