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Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the…

av Noël Riley Fitch

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
469438,285 (3.86)14
Noel Riley Fitch has written a perfect book, full to the brim withliterary history, correct and whole-hearted both in statement and inimplication. She makes me feel and remember a good many things thathappened before and after my time. I'm glad to have lived long enoughto read it. --Glenway Wescott

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Nice overview that includes the whole cast of characters who were hanging out in Paris at the time. Makes one realize that the 20s were truly an amazing time when the arts were at a crossroad. A time when painting, music (jazz), and writing were all transforming themselves. We have not seen anything like except for maybe the 60s... ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Exhaustive almost to the point of tedium, Fitch’s work covers much of the same ground as Shari Benstock’s Women of the Left Bank and the documentary “Paris was a Woman.” Fitch’s approach, however, is the more banal one. Of course Sylvia Beach was dedicated to literature, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. That should go without saying (rather than saying it over 400 pages). What explains Beach’s work at that particular time and place is better covered by Benstock—women of the Left Bank were drawn to Paris by a freedom that allowed them to take the other women in their lives as their muse. In this case Beach’s muse, Adrienne Monnier, goes a long way toward explaining Shakespeare and Company. This is an aspect that is hastily glossed over by Fitch, who sums this up in one line by saying “Eros channeled into sorority yielded both personal and literary fruits.” “Fruits”…ha! Said with humor, that would be a pun almost worthy of Beach herself; unfortunately, Fitch uses it as a whitewash to cover the likes of Beach and Monnier, Stein and Toklas, Flanner and Solano, Barney and every woman on the face of the earth…take your pick.

If you’re interested in who borrowed what book from Shakespeare and Company on which particular day, and if you delight in hearing just how big of an ass James Joyce was, take a gander at this book. It is thoroughly researched on the day in and day out history of Shakespeare and Company. Direct all other inquiries to Benstock’s Women of the Left Bank and “Paris was a Woman.” (There is also Andrea Weiss’ Paris was a Woman: Portraits form the Left Bank, which I’m guessing, sight unseen, is probably dynamite.) ( )
1 rösta mambo_taxi | Nov 3, 2013 |

Earlier this year I read Sylvia Beach’s memoir of the 1920s and 1930s in Paris, [b:Shakespeare and Company|428456|Shakespeare and Company|Sylvia Beach|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328821013s/428456.jpg|417466], 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 [b:Ulysses|338798|Ulysses|James Joyce|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1346161221s/338798.jpg|2368224] 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.
( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
What a wonderful story about a fascinating woman. Sylvia Beach's selfless devotion to the works of Joyce and others is inspiring. I would have loved to looked through the window and listened at the door of Shakespeare and Company to see and hear the stories told in this book. The story itself deserves a 4 star rating but I can't rate the book a 4 star because the books writing seemed to me a bit disorganized. I'd still recommend the book though. Enjoyable read. ( )
1 rösta PapaDubs | Apr 28, 2010 |
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"My loves were Adrienne Monnier and James Joyce and Shakespeare and Company," proclaims Sylvia Beach. This book is the story of these three loves.
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Noel Riley Fitch has written a perfect book, full to the brim withliterary history, correct and whole-hearted both in statement and inimplication. She makes me feel and remember a good many things thathappened before and after my time. I'm glad to have lived long enoughto read it. --Glenway Wescott

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