Well, I’m on my third walk with the company, Paris Walks, and this was another fun tour. I love the idea of being a writer, and imagining the 1920s in Paris as a writer, so I had to go on the Writers of the Left Bank tour. I appreciated seeing new and familiar sights, but with a different perspective. Our guide balanced knowledge with humor, which is always appreciated.
I’ve learned some very interesting facts that I will share on here, but I advise you to go on the tour if this is a topic that interests you because you will probably be able to remember much more information than I can. I hope you enjoy the photos. I had a great time taking and editing them.
Interesting Facts Learned:
-This one may be difficult for some people to swallow… The Shakespeare and Company we visit near Notre Dame is not the original. It is actually the third, and was never owned by Sylvia Beach. Hemingway and Joyce never frequented this spot. She opened one store from 1919-1921, but needed more space, so went to Rue l’Odeon for the shop that was open for around 20 years. This is the famous Shakespeare and Company that loaned books and money to famous writers. The current Shakespeare and Company name was purchased by Walt Whitman’s son, George, and is now run by Sylvia Beach Whitman. You can still appreciate the values set up by Sylvia’s original store.
-Many Jazz musicians from America came to Paris to avoid discrimination and play in clubs.
-Some authors from the beat generation didn’t bathe for over a week, or possibly longer if they stayed in the Beat Hotel.
-There is a theatre that has played the same two shows for over 50 years.
-Sylvia Beach met her companion while visiting the French woman’s bookstore. Syvlia’s hat blew away and the shop owner picked it up and looked at her. They were for over 30 years after that.
-During the second world war, a German soldier came to purchase the last copy of Finnegan’s Wake, but she refused to sell it to him. He replied with threats of shutting down her store and taking all of her books. She packed up her store in nearly four hours and never reopened after that. Fortunately her stock was saved, but she was not. She was sent to an internment camp shortly after. Hemingway “liberated” Shakespeare and Company, but it never reopened under her name. Supposedly he “liberated” the bookstore after “liberating” the Ritz Hotel for a drink.
-Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had a somewhat tragic life. Scott died at 44 from alcoholism, and Zelda died in a fire at a psychiatric hospital.
-Hemingway used to write about his struggles financially, but he married two fairly wealthy women who lived with him in Paris during different times in his life. If he was poor, it was probably because of drinking or gambling too much.
-Gertrude Stein was not the only Stein to purchase paintings and open her home to the public for viewing. Her brother and his wife did the same just down the block.
-And more randomly, Thomas Paine escaped death based on a fluke. Death came to those with a chalk mark outside their cell, and his cell was open, so the mark was made on the inside, and he escaped death.
*If you’d like to know more about the photos, please hover over them to read the captions.